Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Lean Tribe

The Agile Manifesto triggered the growth of "the so called until that moment lightweight methodologies". Scrum and XP became very popular and the tribes associated to them grew with them. However, not long after the Agile Manifesto was signed a new actor entered the scene with outreagous strength. His friends use to call him "Lean" :-)

So what is Lean? Lean has its roots in the Toyota Production System developed by Taichi Ohno. Its core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste.

Lean was brought into the Agile world by Mary and Tom Poppendieck who in their book "Lean Software Development: An Agile toolkit" translated 7 lean principles used in manufacturing to software development language.

Although Lean and Agile share many of the same values and principles as they both are people centric and empower people and they both try to adapt/improve the process continually, they also have some differences as well. The main one in my opinion is its main objective: Agile was developed mostly by software developers and therefore its main objetive is "to uncover better ways of developing software". Lean has in its essence a broader objective (and a broader target) as it seeks to improve the flow of value and this could only happen at an organizational level.

The Agile world was greatly modified by the entrance of Lean. So much that probably now it is an Agile/Lean world.

So who are the referents of this new Lean tribe. Where do they get together. Do they breed with Agile folks? :D I know I may be missing many of the referents of the manufacture industries but these are the ones I know:

- Mary and Tom Poppendieck
- Eli Goldratt (RIP)
- David Anderson
- Karl Scotland
- Alan Shalloway

These folks get together in conferences like "Lean Software and Systems" (in its website, you'll be able to find all the speakers that attended in 2011)

In the last few years, the Lean tribe grew incredibly fast. Particularly, a lean tool called Kanban has gained a great deal of attention and is becoming the new "Scrum" of the moment (or the new star of the moment).

How is the relationship between Agile and Lean? Well, I believe that although there have been some fights (or discussions should I say) because sometimes tribes defend their interests, the Agile community has a lot to learn from the Lean community. Although in the Agile world, Lean is new, it really is much older than Agile.

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