Mary Poppendieck

Owner at Poppendieck.LLC


Reliability Engineering: One of the Best Jobs in Software Engineering
Friday 15:50 - 16:35
Chaos Engineering
High Paid Jobs

Your rating:

The days of trying to prevent failures are gone. In today’s high-volume, cloud-based systems, anything that can go wrong will eventually go wrong. It is far better to spend our time engineering fault tolerance than pursuing the impossible goal of fault prevention. Not only is reliability engineering one of the highest paying jobs in software engineering today, it is also a job full of unique challenges that demand creative thinking and problem solving. 

This talk is about the multiple aspects of reliability engineering that have become critically important as our world has become increasingly dependent on software systems.

Check the slides

Customer Journey
Flow Efficiency
Responsible Engineer
Sync and Stabilize
Organizational Structure
Your rating:

You work with great software engineers. They work on autonomous product teams that deliver frequently. The products are doing well. But -- there is always a But. Things could be better. Something is frustrating team members or disappointing customers or slowing things down. What is it?

Friction. No matter how well things are going, there will always be friction. Consumers experience friction when using your product. Friction delays a team's response to a product request. Friction makes the code difficult to change. Differing expectations create friction among team members. Competing goals create friction between teams.

The purpose of this workshop is for attendees to identify the largest source of friction-- the biggest thing that keeps them from doing their best work -- and come up with a plan for reducing that source of friction.

This workshop assumes that people attending the lab are familiar with lean principles and agile practices, and have worked to implement them. In the lab, attendees learn a pattern for identifying and reducing friction that they can use again and again to improve the way their work works.

You will Learn:

  • Why friction is a good measure of a system's performance
  • How to map your customer's journey / your development process
  • Typical points of friction and how others have confronted them
    • The three greatest causes of friction in the customer journey
    • When flow efficiency is much more efficient than resource efficiency
    • What's wrong with proxies
    • How architecture impacts organizational structure
    • The benefits of having a Responsible Engineer
    • Why Sync and Stabilize promotes organizational alignment
  • A reference process for modern digital systems
  • How to attack friction as a part of regular activities


Mary Poppendieck started her career as a process control programmer, moved on to manage the IT department of a manufacturing plant, and then ended up in product development, where she was both a product champion and department manager.

Mary considered retirement 1998, but instead found herself managing a government software project where she first encountered the word "waterfall." When Mary compared her experience in successful software and product development to the prevailing opinions about how to manage software projects, she decided the time had come for a new paradigm. She wrote the award-winning book Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit in 2003 to explain how the lean principles from manufacturing offer a better approach to software development.

Over the past several years, Mary has found retirement elusive as she lectures and teaches classes with her husband Tom. Based on their on-going learning, they wrote a second book, Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash in 2006, a third, Leading Lean Software Development: Results are Not the Point in 2009, and a fourth book, The Lean Mindset: Ask the Right Questions in 2013. A popular writer and speaker, Mary continues to bring fresh perspectives to the world of software development.