The Principles of Lean Management

The Principles of Lean Management

Our previous post described the first principle of lean management in as much detail as possible: "Eliminate waste." It's all about making the system "lean" and flexible, ready for adapting to an ever-changing environment.

Now we will talk about all the other six principles designed to keep companies agile:

  • Amplify learning
  • Decide as late as possible
  • Deliver as fast as possible
  • Empower the team
  • Build integrity in
  • Optimize the whole

Amplify learning

Classic management often fails to see the importance of learning. The time spent learning is considered wasted, as it could have been used better by working. We all know this is not entirely true. Learning benefits us not only in the long run, but it's also necessary for solving problems in the near future. This is why we should always dedicate sufficient time to research, spiking, and refinement, especially in bigger initiatives.

A piece of useful advice could be to prioritize tasks that you can learn the most from. This way, you could kill two birds with one stone - move forward with your projects while squeezing out knowledge from them and minimizing future waste.

Decide as late as possible

This principle confuses many, as they believe it's about delaying a decision. The point is not to make final decisions a year ahead or even a week ahead if they're not blocking our current affairs. So, the goal isn't avoiding decisions at all, but making enough room for research and observing how the circumstances change. The scope is to make the best decision possible, as late as possible, but not too late. Sounds easy, but knowing when is the final responsible moment to commit to a choice isn't a piece of cake at all.

However, once this principle's implementation is perfected, we'll witness fewer wrong decisions (consequently less unfinished features) and more refined choices. These better-refined decisions will be more in sync with other company activities and enriched with useful details.

Deliver as fast as possible

This principle may seem contradictory to the previous one. In essence, it tells us about creating such a system (team, process, and awareness of slicing tasks) that once a decision has been made, new value can be delivered to the user as soon as possible. The choice would be between delivering to our users the "whole" value (feature, in our case) in a month or its "quarter" every week. This principle tells us we should choose the latter. We could let our customers enjoy valuable parts of the newest feature already within a week by slicing up the feature.

Empower the team

Everyone needs a powerful team. And knowledge diversity can be vital. When team members complete each other with their skills, a lot more can be achieved. If they're equipped with the right tools as well, the sky's the limit. When each member is playing their part correctly, the entire team benefits from it, and the product improves more quickly.

We try hard to empower our teams by giving them enough freedom and independence when making technical decisions. Their self-initiative is encouraged, and we discuss everyone's suggestions. We make sure items enter the development process well-prepared and understood (clarity of scope and acceptance criteria).

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A strong team is required for the previous principle, "Deliver as fast as possible." Here's why: if a team has to continually ask for check-ups, explanations, and approvals of items they're trying to develop, they're losing the ability to deliver features fast enough. However, if the company trusts the teams and their decisions, everyone will do their job responsibly. Decision-makers, teams, and individuals should be available to one another for communication and collaboration, which will lead to clean handoffs with minimum waste.

Build integrity in

This principle has a lot to do with eliminating waste and listening to our customers' feedback. We should highlight that gathering information on how our users feel about the app is not something we do once a month or year. It's an ongoing activity which we take very seriously.

User experience is a great part of that process. As we keep adding features, we have to make sure the app is not getting too heavy and frustrating to use. This is why we revise the code, improve it where necessary, and reduce defects (a type of waste).

Optimize the whole

Looking at the big picture is important, so we never stop being aware of all the dimensions a product has, the value it gives to different types of users, its potential, and the ways it could be further developed. Too much focus on specific issues could lead to not seeing the forest for the trees. We might forget why we even started dealing with a particular feature.

Instead, we should always know what we're trying to achieve on a strategic level rather than just on a tactical level. The same goes for all the individuals within teams. For instance, a designer working on a certain part of the app shouldn't lose sight of the entire feature consisting of its various components. Additionally, they should also think about how that feature fits into the whole platform from time to time.

That's all, folks!

We hope these two posts helped to create a clearer picture of lean management! It's true most principles focus on the software industry, but their concept can be implemented successfully in almost all businesses. Read even more on project management and team culture and collaboration on our blog! 

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