Written by Richie Harris
In the last few decades, “Agile” and “Lean” have become commonplace terms in the world of software development. Agile transformation, though by some deemed only a trend, has proven itself again and again. It’s undeniable, an Agile approach clearly aligns with the basic realities of a successful project.
The key to appreciating a Lean-Agile Mindset is first developing a thorough understanding of the history, prevalence, and characteristics of both Agile and Lean Thinking.
One wouldn’t likely peg the small town of Snowbird, Utah as the site of a software rebellion, but in 2001 a band of software insurgents united to transform the way software is envisioned, produced, and delivered. The Agile manifesto was born as a combative response to the prevailing “Waterfall” software development process. A practice that was neither timely nor responsive.
The principles and practices of Agile were used to rapidly develop working applications and bring them into the hands of end-users. Often described by its 17 founding thought leaders as a “lightweight” approach, the key features of the Agile movement turned out to be accelerated feedback and a willingness to adapt.
Today, the majority of organizations have embraced Agile. An HP study polling 600 IT and development professionals showed that two-thirds described their company as either “pure agile” or “leaning towards agile”.
In practice, the Agile methodology is characterized by a few key distinctions:
Believe it or not, the Lean management approach was introduced in the 20th century by the well known, Japanese motor company, Toyota. The company was experiencing product delivery issues and sought to rectify and streamline its operation.
The Lean methodology is a set of principles around a manufacturing process, used to reduce waste and inefficiency. “Lean” is not so much a process to follow as it is a set of principles for developing a process. It wasn’t until 2003 that “Lean” was applied to software development and adopted as an Agile methodology.
A Lean enterprise’s driving force is to eliminate waste and reduce the cost of production. With a foundation in leadership, the lean methodology leverages respect for people, culture, flow, innovation, and relentless improvement.
In practice, Lean can be characterized by a few additional distinctions:
Within healthy, innovative product development, teams adopt the two aspects of Lean-Agile mindset; thinking Lean and embracing Agility. Agile and Lean are like spaghetti sauce and tomato paste.
Agile is an application and result of Lean thinking, not a competitor. Both methodologies conjoin in their mutual pursuance of trust. They encourage team members to take ownership of their work.
Adopting a Lean-Agile mindset motivates teams to be self-organizing and self-healing, to work together and solve problems, and to build something that can be demonstrated to customers on a consistent basis.
Written by Richie Harris