Project Management

An Introduction To Lean

From the Manifesting Business Agility Blog
This blog concerns itself with organizations moving to business agility—the quick realization of value predictably and sustainably, and with high quality. It includes all aspects of this—from the business stakeholders through ops and support. Topics will be far-reaching but will mostly discuss FLEX, Flow, Lean-Thinking, Lean-Management, Theory of Constraints, Systems Thinking, Test-First and Agile.

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Asking Powerful Questions

There are many ways to look at Lean. Many people have taken the principles they've seen in Lean manufacturing and directly translate them into the product development arena. But manufacturing is not like product development. In manufacturing we're trying to limit variation and the only discovery is how to improve the repeatable process. In product development, we're trying to discover what is needed and how to create a physical manifestation of it if we're creating a product, a better process if we're if we're creating a new service or software if we're creating a software product. This process is considerably different than reducing waste in a manufacturing line. A metaphor can be in manufacturing we're cooking from a recipe, while in product development we're creating the recipe.

What we want to do is to look at the principles underneath Lean-Thinking. 

  • Take a systems thinking approach
    • Attend to the entire value stream
    • Align the organization around purpose
    • Think long term
  • Delight customers
    • Discover true value
    • Deliver incrementally to different customer segments
  • Invest in your people
    • Give them a sense of purpose
    • Provide them with a great working environment
    • Acknowledge them
  • Increase flow
    • Have efficient value streams
    • Avoid handbacks
    • Remove delays
    • Small batches
    • Speed, quality and low cost work together
    • Focus on flow efficiency, not resource efficiency
  • Build quality in 
    • don’t tolerate defects
    • test-first
    • common cadence and integration
    • look to the source of your challenges
  • Keep getting better
    • use the scientific method
    • look for emergent behavior
    • the role of management
    • Plan Do Study Act


Posted on: January 31, 2020 10:53 AM | Permalink

Comments (10)

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Good topic Al. Question.. Do you think Lean is mostly connected with Agile or Waterfall? Can Lean also be applied to the waterfall approach of managing a project?

Dear Al
Interesting perspective on the topic:
"An Introduction To Lean"

Thanks for sharing

Believes that the Toyota Product Development System exists and that the Lean Principles are applied in it?

To Arash: Thanks for the question.
Agile has been strongly influenced by Lean. There is overlap, but they are not the same. We've wrapped Agile within Lean, since it adds many useful concepts not generally in Agile (systems-thinking, flow, lean principles).

Lean and waterfall have very little to do with each other.

Here's an article that may be of interest.
Why Lean-Agile Should Be More Predictable Than Waterfall

Louis: Most Lean thought leaders I know (and I know quite a few) believe that Lean stands outside of Toyota. My keynote at Lean-Kanban Miami 2009 was about Lean beyond Toyota.

The TPS is like a grocery store of ideas for us now.
But to more directly answer your question, everything I've written here is consistent with the TPS.

Thanks, Al. Invest in people! Yay for that!

I think it is a very deep insight.
Thank you for an article that will always be helpful.

I think lean is an essential concept in the area of business that requires agility.
On the other hand, I think that it is difficult to pursue lean in creative business.

Because some people find value in waste.
People feel motivated and satisfied with the little services and experiences they don't need.

In that sense, Delight customers is a difficult task.

Good insights. Then you have to choose which customers you want to delight.

Good overview and refresher, Al, but I would suggest to one of the earlier comments made that lean thinking and principles could still be applied to a predictive lifecycle if that delivery approach is the "right" one for a given context.

In such cases, especially where there is a higher degree of repeatability and lower levels of uncertainty we might see greater application of traditional process-oriented lean thinking.

Lean can be applied everywhere. But then i'd look more at reducing delays, attempting to get smaller batches of work, creating visibility, using middle up down management.

great article thank you for sharing.

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