By Valerie Muravitsky
Lately Lean and Agile terms started appearing interchangeably, as in "lean agile methodology". Although these methodologies are merging and many organizations employ a hybrid of Lean and Agile development methods, they started as separate practices. The two do go together and there are elements of Lean that we utilize more and more in Agile, but it is important to understand the distinction and avoid confusion.
Lean Principles (come from Toyota Production System / Kanban - meaning "billboard") focus on elimination of waste (just in time production, replenishment triggered by demand), no iterations, switch tasking is minimized by setting work limits. Production is driven directly by customer demand -- close interaction with customers. Anything that does not generate immediate customer value is not being worked on. The goal is to improve by amplifying learning, eliminate constrains, empower the team while making decisions as late as possible.
Agile is a framework for various methodologies: scrum, xp, pair. The Agile Manifesto (2001) was drafted by 17 software developers who got together at a Utah ski resort and agreed on the governing principles.
It is important to understand that Agile is a style of working, a mentality. We are not doing agile, but rather we are being agile.
The focus is on iterative, time boxed activity cycles and planning. No task limits are stated but rather team capacity measurements dictate the burn rate and productivity potential. Agile values people over process or tools and promotes co-location (business/customer and developers sit together), self organized teams, trusting the team, continuous integration, sustainability and adaptability (response to change) to build discipline. Team roles are also an important component of this practice. All this creates a cultural transition.
Lean Startup Concept is Eric Ries' philosophy that focuses on creating a minimum viable product (unfinished product). It has nothing to do with funding or raising capital! To achieve this startups must eliminate waste (no lengthy business plans but rather a prototype or pitch) and focus on customer value using key performance indicators and a continuous deployment process.
How have these methodologies helped shape your startup?
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