As a business owner, you need to stay one step ahead of your competition. To do that you need your team to work more efficiently and faster. So how can you increase productivity in your business?
A critical component to increasing your productivity is adopting the Lean Agile process. There’s a lot of hype around Lean Agile innovation these days because it keeps teams happy and they’re able to deliver their work faster than they could by using traditional processes.
Lean Agile offers organizations a way to cut some of the waste that comes when adopting Agile at scale. Teams who use it report being more satisfied with their work and faster, more efficient delivery of value to customers.
What is Lean Agile?
Lean Agile is a set of principles that helps teams deliver faster by reducing WIP and improving focus, reduce context switching, and remove waste. Lean Agile is a set of principles that help teams deliver faster through the reduction of work in process (WIP) and improvements in focus.
Agile and Lean are two different approaches to managing a business. Agile teams typically employ cross-functional teams that work together to deliver one iteration at a time. When you put the two together, “Agile” looks to improve the product itself; “Lean” looks to improve the process that delivers products.
Originally created for manufacturing, Lean has since been recognized as a valuable and applicable method for software development. When using Lean, the goal is to reduce waste while providing maximum value to the customer. In software development, lean project management means there will be fewer defects, features, revisions, and more. Agile promotes collaboration in an uncertain environment.
How Lean Agile began:
A large group of developers met in Snowbird, Utah in 2001. Among them was Jeff Sutherland, who later created the Scrum. This group included advocates of many competing approaches, such as agile software development (ASD), extreme programming (XP), dynamic systems development method (DSDM) and feature-driven development (FDD). These were known as “lightweight frameworks” since they gave developers simpler ways to adapt to rapidly changing environments.
The group arrived at the name “Agile” for their movement. They also developed 12 principles which they dubbed “Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto.”
As agile methods became popular, MIT researchers sought to discover the underlying principles that make Japanese manufacturing systems successful. They found that manufacturing processes like the Toyota production system were leading experts to use a term coined “lean” (which described lean methodology) to improve productivity by eliminating waste. Lean advocates focused more on customer-centric collaboration, but eventually, Lean Agile implementation came together as valid applications of Lean Agile principles and values.
How Lean Agile works:
Agile teams work quickly to transform ideas into working software and use the feedback from customers to guide their decisions. Rather than waiting until a task is complete, Agile teams deliver content in small batches with frequent deployments to receive customer feedback quickly and use it to influence upcoming work. This approach has the benefits of lean principles, where they can decide how much software they want to create upfront and then defer commitment until it’s absolutely necessary.
Lean’s goal is to improve focus and reduce context switching by managing the flow of work to limit WIP (work-in-progress). Agile teams use Lean strategies to manage flow, working as a cross-functional unit to deliver one repetition at a time. This strategy offers several benefits for Lean users, such as increased agility and the ability to make informed decisions with more current and relevant information.
When the feedback loop is short, it’s easy for teams to update their approach based on the latest business requirements. Daily cooperation between developers and stakeholders helps team members prioritise tasks based on company goals, ensuring value for customers.
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10 Lean Agile principles:
Businesses want to meet deadlines as fast as possible. The phase-gated approach is one of the key pillars on which the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is built. This process concentrates on deliverables in a specific phase and delivers them incrementally—which has been shown to increase productivity, time to market, employee engagement, and end solution quality for product development teams.
There are 10 chief underlying principles that help in the effective management of enterprises:
1. Take an economic view:
To achieve a strong economic view, do the following: – Deliver often and deliver early. – Apply the following framework:
- Operate within the budget
- Leverage supplier
- Understand the economic trade-off
- Sequence jobs to yield maximum benefits
2. Apply systems thinking:
The system has a holistic approach and can be used for developing solutions to problems. It will incorporate all aspects of the system, developing, and maintaining it.
Chief system aspects include:
- The system and solution are the same.
- The enterprise that develops the system is a system too.
- The value stream is required to be optimized.
3. Assume variability; preserve options:
Agile design practices give us the ability to adjust and changes to our products based on feedback from the market. In addition, it enables us to take advantage of new opportunities that present themselves. This will lead to more optimal economic outcomes for the company.
- Accept the current variability and analyze what change can be made to satisfy the requirement points in the future iterations.
- Use a set-based design approach and build a bigger cast from the beginning. This way, you can have alternate versions of scenes and choose which one works best.
- Depending on availability and how the economy is doing, use one option while preserving others to use later.
4. Build incrementally with fast, integrated learning cycles
The best way to reduce the risk of things going wrong is by allowing customers to look at incremental builds. Incremental building allows for a rapid learning cycle. Use these integration points for complex systems to ensure each system meets your requirements.
5. Base milestones on an objective evaluation of working systems
Lean Agile principles break down traditional methods by implementing set-based design. This allows integrated learning cycles to be created quickly and efficiently. Which is why milestones are encouraged at every point in the SDLC, which covers the entire process from testing requirements to create a value increment.
6. Visualize and limit WIP, reduce batch sizes, and manage queue lengths
Visualizing the workflow can help keep things organized and limits batches by lowering queue lengths. To maintain a continuous flow and make updates quickly, follow all three methods that are mentioned:
- Make WIP visible to all stakeholders
- Balance the WIP at the development capacity
- Limit WIP by lowering the work size
7. Apply cadence; synchronize with cross-domain planning
Cadence principles of flow:
- Prevent variance accumulation by using regular cadence.
- Enable small batch sizes with periodical cadence.
- Enable cadence by providing a sufficient capacity margin.
8. Unlock the intrinsic motivation of knowledge workers
Remember these guidelines to motivate skilled workers:
- Education about the compensation for a role is required in an enterprise.
- Provide independence that defines the mission and purpose.
- They must make decisions and understand economics.
- Create a mutually influential environment.
- They will feel motivated if they can operate on their own.
9. Decentralize decision-making
In order to reduce delays and improve development flow, we’d like to distribute the decision-making process. This will help further enable faster feedback with innovative solutions.
10. Organize around value
Establish a new value-based organization with the following steps:
- Rethink the organization.
- Understand the flow value.
- Realize value stream of agile teams and trains.
- Collect value streams, calling it portfolio.
- Reorganize based on values.
Getting started with implementation:
Certain organizations have trouble implementing Agile team practices because of siloed teams, which can lead to funding for non-strategic or redundant work. Without financial transparency across the enterprise, the cost of production errors is not contained within individual teams and reduces new projects while increasing budget variance. Teams often struggle with not having a single source of truth for all their essential information. This is because there are many different tools, but each separate system doesn’t always work together across organizational and team lines. Integration to financial planning is manual, slowing the process considerably and preventing team members from syncing fast enough.