The State is running Lean initiatives now and it reminded me that I never got around to posting what I learned from my Lean Agile development course from BMGI. I was well read on Agile and had managed developers that had worked in Agile shops, but I knew I wasn’t strictly following all the ceremonies. I refer to that time as my “Guerilla Agile” phase. Fellow start-up peeps know what I mean!
The key for me was the teacher’s comparison of Lean, Six Sigma and Agile. Each is loosely considered a business transformation philosophy. It was enlightening to have an expert put them into context. Credit for the table below goes to Jorge Alberto Garcia Gonzalez, Senior Client Partner and teacher at BMGI.
Jorge explained that Six Sigma and Agile are more technical in their application. Six Sigma has manufacturing roots and is very operations oriented. Agile has software development roots and is very release oriented.
By contrast, Lean is more strategic. It’s what gives rise to the phrases “Lean Six Sigma” and “Lean Agile.” There’s a natural fit because a strategic philosophy is complementing a technical one. I believe it’s the reason the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is largely based on Lean.
The value proposition of the course was much clearer after seeing this table. Lean principles enhance and refine the Agile process. More specifically, the flexibility and collaborative nature of Agile is more valuable when combined with Lean principles such as reducing errors and eliminating waste. From BMGI’s course description:
Lean Agile teams produce working software in shorter periods of time with fewer errors and waste. They manage the development cycle in a collaborative environment with customers, developers, testers and business leaders.
So you can go Lean, or you can go Agile, but why do that when you can go Lean Agile?!