Lean and Agile Buzz Words Debunked



What Does Lean And Agile Mean In Business?

Are you part of an organization that uses the terms lean, agile, or opportunistic for describing your business, or your processes and methodologies, but those seem more like a cover up for “business as usual”?  Are you a manager that see’s the theoretical value in the concepts of Lean and Agile, but are struggling to turn any of it into a reality for your teams?  Are you a marketing or sales executive that wishes that when he heard these terms thrown around the office that it meant that your people and products were more flexible and better tuned to allow you to pounce upon new opportunities, but you just aren’t seeing it happen?  Are you a CEO, CTO, or COO that wonders if your organization, products, or services really are agile or lean enough for the changes and challenges that you face ahead?  If the answer was yes to any of these questions then know that you’re not alone.  Lean and agile transformations too frequently start out as well positioned initiatives that will revolutionize an organization or team, instilling new energy and life, but end up as no more than “buzz words”.

Agile And Lean Are Synonymous With Improved Processes

Many organizations and managers fall victim to the adoption of a false persona of agility or leanness because that is how they want to operate, but the reality may be far from that.  Managers and executives can sometimes see Agile and Lean as a destination that must be achieved so that the banners can be hung and declarations can be made that “We are Agile!”, or “We are Lean!”.   These seemingly simple declarations can undermine the very culture and environment of opportunism that they are trying to create.  At the very heart of these methodologies resides the principle of process improvement.  Agile and Lean are principles that allow an organization to chart a course and roughly identify an amoebic destination based on the current data (market, customer, team, or otherwise), but then plan each ensuing way-point as they go, examining the most currently available information.  At each way-point, the team must gather and observe the current data and environment to first evaluate and measure the successes and failures of the previous increments, and then determine if the original amoebic destination is still valid.  Armed with this determination a heading is set for the next best way-point.  Agile and lean, therefor are not destinations, but process and product development methodologies that prescribe frequent checkpoints to measure an organization’s rate and degree of leanness or agility.

The bottom line is that process improvement is a continuum that demands dedication and vigilance, but the pay offs of an entrepreneurial and opportunistic culture that can result are tremendous; often leading to higher revenues, better customer satisfaction, lower costs, and organizational strength that can withstand the biggest of challenges.  So next time you hear one of these “buzz words” aboard your vessel try to remind yourself and others that these aren’t destinations, but an ongoing voyage that needs captains and shipmates with a simultaneous recognition of where they’ve been, where they’re at, and where they’re heading.

We Can Help!

For more information about how the IAG Unity BPM and BPMS tools can help support your crew and captain, visit us at www.iagunity.com