Lean Software Development, An Agile Toolkit by Mary and Tom Poppendieck, ISBN 0-321-15078-3 .
This book models programming as an assembly line. Each piece on the line is a change request. The goal of software development is to treat the assembly line as a ValueStream, and minimize the time a request spends on the line. That requires distributing control to the workers, and mistake-proofing all aspects of the line.
The primary topics of the book are:
Decide as late as possible.
Deliver as fast as possible.
Empower the team.
Build integrity in.
See the whole.
Inventory, in software development, per the Poppendiecks, is partially done work. Partially done work (SoftwareInProcess) is an investment that has not yet yielded a return. And not even been deployed to where it could yield a return. Therefor minimize inventory by frequently delivering small complete units of working functionality to the customer.
-- Mark Delaney