Understanding Lean Development Methodology

The Lean Development Methodology decreases costs, effort, and waste. It aims to reduce programming effort, budgeting, and defect rates by one third.

What is Lean Development Methodology

Lean methodology is not a new concept, but its modern application to business is constantly evolving.  Short iterations provide an opportunity to communicate small sets of plans upfront and allow the team to make decisions to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. Organizations that can complete fast, simple improvements in the shortest time frame gain powerful decision-making benefits. This approach is beneficial to an organization because agile iterations eliminate extensive pre-planned specifications.

Pillars of Lean Development

Continuous Improvement

Lean organizations are graceful, humble, and orderly. We encourage employees to foster a learning mindset, and more specifically, a testing mindset. We test ideas with our target market before we throw dollars at them. In this way, Lean methodology is as much of a path toward innovation as it is a form of risk management.

When some people think of Lean methodology, they equate it with the elimination of waste. While it is true that Lean organizations aim to eliminate waste, the goal is not elimination – it is value creation.

How do we learn what is valuable? We deliver quickly. When we provide fast, based on what we know about the customer, we can get feedback immediately. And whether what we provide is a failure or a success, we gain valuable insight into how to improve. This is how we achieve business agility; this is how we, through the process of creating value, eliminate waste.

Lightweight Leadership

Elevating the voice of the front line worker evolves the role of leadership. The purpose of the leader is to set the course of what to do, but also how and when. Lean leadership empowers employees with the autonomy to make decisions. The opportunity to master their craft and the purpose to understand the value of their efforts. The role of the leader is to define the goal at hand and then allow their talented employees to discover the most appropriate course of action toward that goal.

Likewise, removing any obstacles that could prevent their team from delivering value to the customer. Lean leadership is better defined by what it is not than what it is.  It is leading in the most real sense.

Respect for Front Line Workers

Often, the best ideas come from the people with their hands on the product. In most organizations, decisions are made at the top of the organization and trickled down to the front line. Lean thinking encourages allowing everyone, to have an equal voice, to ensure that the opinion of the customer, and those doing the work, is heard. This is the Lean concept of going to the gemba – going to the place where the work is done – to get ideas for improving practice and creating value. Lean thinking says that good people want to do their best work and are motivated to make decisions that optimize their time and talent to create the most value for the customer. Going to the gemba allows the organization to capture the best ideas and bring them to fruition.

In Conclusion

Many organizations have found the Lean methodology to be an excellent approach to software development because of its streamlining of the process and forcing the team to ruthlessly cut away any activity that does not directly affect the final product. But an organization must have an outstanding development team, and trust that team implicitly, for this approach to be successful.

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