Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lean is the new Agile

I'm happy to see more people everyday are interested in Agile methods, however I'm saddened by the misinterpretation and perceptions of Agile by people who have never experienced it.

I've discovered that when I mention Agile to a group of IT Professionals, there is an initial reaction of shock and defensive posturing.

"Agile isn't for us. We don't want the developers coding without any direction."


"If we're going to use XP, that's fine. I'll just find another team!"

It's hard enough to have people listen about the spirit of agility when they have already made their minds up...which leads me to the topic of this post.

Lean is the new Agile

Recently I've been hearing more and more about Lean software development. It's not new, but I believe the agile community is looking for another way to market agility outside the software industry. And it makes sense to use Lean Manufacturing as the model. Every business person in the world has heard about lean manufacturing. Not only have they heard the term, there is an engrained positive feeling about it. Lean sounds like it costs less with more quality. They associate lean with Toyota which they associate with quality...Oh what a feeling!

Agile, on the other hand, is associated with XP (Extreme Programming). Nobody in business wants anything to do with anything that is extreme. Extreme equates to Risk and the business world is all about reducing risks (or as we say, "mitigating risks").

So give it a shot. Next time someone is discussing your software development methodology, tell them you use a lean software development methodology based on the principles from the Toyota Production System and see how they react.

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