I hear Lean attached to most everything now. Lean budgets, Lean inside Scrum, and more. I remember a few years ago a website with Lean in the url offering Scrum training with no mention of Lean on the site (I looked).
In the Scrum community, Lean has undergone Arthur Schopenhauer's “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
But just labeling it Lean doesn't make it so. At a first cut I'll suggest a quick guide for something to be lean. It must have all, or at least not contradict any, of the following concepts:
- be based on systems thinking
- incorporate just-in-time (thinking about removing delays)
- encourage small batches
- build quality in (e.g., test-first)
- shorten feedback cycles
- speed up delivery of value to the customer
- enhance learning
Things can be Agile, (e.g., something that encourages quick feedback) without being Lean. Most things I see with the Lean moniker are Agile at best, and misleading about Lean at worst.