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Power in Running Lean

May 15, 2016

Transforming Performance Through Agile Methodology

Business landscapes have changed significantly, with traditional management approaches yielding decreased productivity and innovation. Correcting the course in your own company could start with a Lean Transformation rooted in Agile methodologies like Six Sigma and Scrum.

A business approach driven by iterative, incremental cycles of product or service development, Agile was first shaped by software developers in answer to their need for liquidity and speed. Now, these principles have begun to evolve into general management practices across a myriad of industries. 

How Does it Work?

Agile calls for a rapid, trial-and-error series of processes, or sprints, that are repeated and adapted through every cycle of a project. With completely self-organized teams tackling projects together, it’s much like driving a football down the field—the team quickly makes a plan, tries it out, adjusts to what is learned, and repeats the process again and again. The end goal: a rapidly-developed working product or viable service. 

Why is it Effective?

Corporate success and thriving profit margins rely on more than the delivery of products and services. Agile cultivates other vital aspects such as innovation, productivity, job satisfaction, and client loyalty. Here’s how:

> Its fluidity offers opportunities to assess a project’s progress throughout its lifecycle and adapt the approach in real-time—reducing development costs and time to market. 

> Client input and collaboration create an atmosphere of empowerment and ownership.

> The short work cycle and ability to calibrate while in progress preserves the product’s relevance in the market. 

> The Agile team chooses its own management style and technical practices—resulting in collaboration, innovation, and high job satisfaction.

Getting Lean

Key questions as you start applying Agile principles:

> What’s the purpose of the product or service you’re developing? Involve clients in determining what challenge or need they have that you intend to solve.

> What work needs to be done? Determine what actions need to be taken and what processes improved or created. Address those, learn from them, and amend your process accordingly.  

> How are we building and supporting our capabilities? Provide necessary software, structure, and training (both hard and soft skills) that support the project.

> What is the nature of your existing culture? Ensure that lean principles of adaptability, collaboration, and iterative learning are driving the culture and each project it supports.