University of Minnesota
Software Engineering Center

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Mary Poppendieck

Photo of Mary Poppendieck
Mary Poppendieck's first job was programming the #2 Electronic Switching System at Bell Labs in 1967. She has worked on systems that control roll-goods processes, interpret digitized images, and support statistical process control. She spearheaded the implementation of a Just-in-Time production system and led new product development teams, commercializing products ranging from digital controllers to lighting systems. Mary is a popular writer and speaker, and coauthor of the book Lean Software Development: an Agile Toolkit, which was awarded the Software Development Productivity Award in 2004. A sequel, Implementing Lean Software Development: from Concept to Cash was published in 2006. A third book, Leading Lean Software Development: Results are Not the Point was published in November 2009, and a fourth book, The Lean Mindset: Ask the Right Questions was published in 2013. [Currently Mary is trying to be retired, but it's not working very well.]

Recent Presentations

Fifty Years of Observability

Over the past 50 years (!), I have watched our tools become increasingly sophisticated, but the complexity of our systems has stayed more or less the same - just out of reach of our ability to comprehend what's going on. We've progressed from wanting to know why airplanes crash to figuring out why servers freeze; but any time there's a complex system involved, bad stuff happens and we don't know why. In order to keep using complex systems, we need to figure out what triggers problems and keep these things from happening again.