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22 lean software engineering pros to follow on Twitter

Matthew Heusser Managing Consultant, Excelon Development
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Donald Trump isn't the only one who can tweet up a storm: Lean software development experts have grown into a vibrant community on Twitter, where software engineers, stakeholders, and other IT practitioners can ask questions and learn.

The original proponents of lean, an approach to eliminating waste in the manufacturing process, emerged in Japan with the building of automobiles, culminating with the introduction of the Toyota Production System in 1980. It wasn't until 2003 that those ideas began to be applied to the building of software. Mary and Tom Poppendieck's 2003 publication of Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit started the discussion.

Some people focus on removing waste, others on flow; some work from the top down and others from the bottom up. In many cases, the ideas they present conflict, or at least have a healthy tension. One way to learn is to follow them all on Twitter and decide if what they are saying makes sense for you. Here, then, are 23 lean experts you should follow on Twitter. I've divided them up into groups—visionaries, practitioners, consultants, and coaches—so that you can zoom in on the type of expertise you need.

The visionaries

Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry

@ourfounder  and @Sprezzatura

Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry, principals of the training and consulting firm Modus Cooperandi, are authors of the book Personal Kanban, which won the Shingo Prize, one of the highest honors for lean publications. Their style in the book, and on Twitter, is entertaining and razor-edge accurate.

Don Reinertsen


Don Reinertsen is president of Reinertsen & Associates. In his book Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development, Reinertsen did the spade work to explain new ways of thinking about speed on software projects. He also coined the aphorism, "If you must measure one thing, measure cost of delay!"

Troy Magennis


Troy Magennis is the founder of Focused Objective. His "Software Moneyball" presentation at the 2014 Agile Conference offered up meaningful metrics for software development. A former vice president of software engineering at SABRE, Magennis gives away free simulations on his website and has applied his ideas in many large organizations.

Eric Reis


Eric Reis, CEO of The Long-Term Stock Exchange, is best known for writing The Lean Startup. The best-selling book, which offers a company and product development strategy that relies on small experiments, has developed a cultlike following. Reis proposed turning the way people develop products inside out, suggesting ways to validate a product before it exists.

The practitioners

Julie Wester


Julie Wester, an improvement coach at LeanKit, blogs regularly at and posts on Twitter, where she covers a broad range of lean topics. Her insights are often actionable and align with lean principles.

Tobbe Gyllebring


It was Tobbe Gyllebring, chief technology officer at Nepa, who made the first tweet-sized observation that removing waste trumps pursuing resource efficiency, that flow trumps removing waste, and that customer value trumps flow.

Chris McDermott


Lean agile coach Chris McDermott is co-organizer of Lean Agile Scotland (Lascot), arguably the leading event of its kind in the world. It's the only event that consistently draws the people on this list as speakers.

Larry Maccherone


Larry Maccherone, director of analytics and research at AgileCraft, tweets on lean/agile metrics, project management, and visualization.

Marc Burgauer


UK-based lean coach Marc Burgauer is best known for his presentation The Eupsychian Manager. His Twitter feed includes selected retweets and management advice, with a bit of European politics thrown in the mix.

Trent Hone


Agile coach and scholar Trent Hone posts about systems thinking with a naval- and military-science feel. His military examples, in his blog and on Twitter, deal with complexity, time pressure, and tough decisions in the face of uncertainty, with an actual, real, physical opponent. 

Steve Holt


Steve Hold is an associate technical fellow at Boeing and a board member of the Theory of Constraints International Certification Organization (TOCICO). Given that, it should come as no surprise that he tweets on systems thinking, the theory of constraints, Cynefin, and John Boyd, the Air Force officer who coined the Orient, Observe, Decide, Act (OODA) loop.

Klaus Leopold


The author of Kanban Change Leadership and a systems thinker and managing partner at LEANability GmbH, Klaus Leopold's Twitter stream includes maxims about lean, a little German, a little comedy, and some travel writing.

Troy Tuttle


Lean agile practitioner and coach Troy Tuttle focuses on systems thinking and complexity theory. He has a warm, kind, approachable spirit that is the opposite of the classic "lean process weenie." Like Leopold's, Tuttle's Twitter stream includes a great deal of curating, retweeting excellent content from all over the web, as well as the occasional comment on American football.

The consultants

Adam Yuret


Adam Yuret, lean consultant at Context Driven Agility, is perhaps best known for his remarkable talk Productivity Is Killing Us. He takes complex ideas, such as the Cynefin framework, and makes them approachable and meaningful to technical workers and management.

Melissa Perri


Most lean consultants focus on the process—the "how." Melissa Perri, who focuses on product management, user experience, and agile, tweets and blogs on how to help teams get the "what" right, with specific product management advice.

Clarke Ching


The author of Rolling Rocks Downhill, Clarke Ching works with programs and projects to make delivery predictable. His tweets are full of thoughtful musings, sometimes collections of them, plus a few life-status updates. 

Mary Poppendieck


The author of the original lean software book, Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit, as well as several sequels, Mary Poppendieck has extensive experience working at IBM and several other large organizations. 

The coaches

Dominica Degrandis


Dominica Degrandis is director of training and coaching at LeanKit, which offers tools and services to help organizations implement lean principles and practices. Follow her to keep up with the latest trends in this area.

Matt Barcomb 


Matt Barcomb is vice president of lean-agile organizational design at LeanDog. His tweets are funny and irreverent, and he has a broad set of interests around product development and knowledge work. Barcomb has internalized lean thinking, and it shows.

Jabe Bloom


PraxisFlow cofounder and CEO Bloom is known for mixing lean approaches and design thinking. Follow him for new ideas, old ideas re-represented, and occasional pictures of coffee.

Hakan Forss


Lean/agile coach, public speaker, and author Hakan Forss teaches lean concepts with Legos. Why follow him? No one will listen to your idea unless it's fun, and he makes it fun.

Karl Scotland


UK-based lean-agile consultant Karl Scotland applies Kanban by visualizing the flow of work, and limiting work in progress at large, enterprise customers that have complex programs. He's a good one to follow if you are in a large enterprise that's struggling with alignment or limiting work in progress.

Now start a lean conversation

There's a great deal to lean, from removing waste to improving flow, adding value, and continuously improving. From 5S to A3, Gemba, and Kanban, there are more acronyms and new terms surrounding lean than can be covered here. Learning about each, understanding what each one adds, and deciding whether you should consider it is probably best done through conversations. Twitter is a great place to do that. So start following, reach out, and engage!

That's my list of lean experts, but you may know others. Who did I miss? Feel free to add names you respect, along with why others should follow them, in the comments below.

Image credit: Flickr

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