Lean vs Agile Management: Which one is for your business?


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Two of the most popular approaches to building software are Lean vs Agile Management. However, they are now not only applied to the programming field. Its thinking is widely used in corporate governance in general. In contrast, they share several similarities, quite a bit that sets them apart, which can benefit you when deciding between these methods in your organization or team environment.

The Lean vs Agile methodologies have been the subject of much debate recently. Some companies choose one over another, but which is better? We’re here to help you figure it out!

Lean vs Agile Management: Definition

What is Lean Management?


Lean principles were first developed in Japan over 50 years ago. In the 1950s, Taiichi Ohno, an engineer at Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan, noticed many ways to increase efficiency within the company. He implemented a system known as “The Production System,” inspired by grocery stores and their ability to efficiently manage inventory through visual signals when items are needed without wasting any unnecessary space or time. This helped reduce waste throughout each production process while optimizing it for maximum yield.

Lean is a methodology that eliminates non-value-adding tasks to focus on what matters. Along the way, Lean strives to prioritize human values like learning and people themselves while also ensuring they’re not putting anything before them.

The idea behind the lean methodology is that production should reflect demand, not supply. The theory goes like this: if you’re waiting to make products until someone requests them, there will always be a shortage since no one can predict what people might want or need at any given time! Instead, under these circumstances, producers are constantly seeking out customers’ needs by creating items per request – which would mean more flexibility in case something goes wrong with inventory levels. This system becomes far less risky for businesses due to their foreseen ability to potential problems before they arise.

One of the most critical principles in Lean is kaizen. This word translates to ‘change for better’ and signifies that tasks should always be optimized wherever possible.

The methodology requires that workers be responsible for determining how they work. Managers should trust those doing the job to know what needs to get done best, so there’s no a need for micromanagement or over-supervision of employees’ every move.

See more: What is Lean Management and How to Implement

What is Agile Management?


Agile was first established as an industry standard for software development. The Manifesto For Agile Software Development formalizes practices that have been derived from other frameworks like Scrum and Kanban into one document so they can quickly be adopted by any team using these techniques.

Agile has four defining guidelines, listed below:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Agile tries to remove as much of the burden from individual team members to do their best work. This means focusing more on outcomes than processes, which is why software development had become so process-centric in recent years, even though it started out very differently back when Lean methodologies were first introduced.

In addition, the manifesto holds 12 principles which can be surmised as the following priorities:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Welcoming changing requirements
  • Frequent delivery
  • Project collaboration amongst business people and developers
  • Having motivated individuals and a matching environment
  • Effective face-to-face conversation
  • Working software as a measure of progress
  • Sustainable development
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence
  • Simplicity
  • Self-organization
  • Regular reflection and adaptation

Agile development is all about the customer. The end goal of any project, regardless of whether there are contracts, should be to satisfy the client’s needs and expectations with their final product- which can only happen through collaboration between client and contractor.

Agile project management is all about communication and governance. This cannot be done without cooperation between different individuals involved with the project; it’s not just one person making decisions, but every member working together to create something great.

See more: What is Agile Business Process? How can achieve it?

Lean vs Agile: Similarities and Differences

Similarities of Lean vs Agile

Lean vs agile both share a dedication to optimizing the process. In Lean, this means focusing on “optimize-the whole,” whereas in Agile, it’s expanded into responding appropriately when changes occur – adapting over following plans or schedules.

If you are an experienced developer, then there is no reason why your methods should remain stagnant. Methodologies such as Lean vs Agile help teams improve their efficiency over time by adding new features or updating existing ones in unique ways; this keeps things fresh for everyone involved.

Lean vs agile organizations share a few things in common: their means of organizing. Call it self-organization or respecting people; either way, both types put the responsibility onto those who work there, which can only lead to success.

This means no micro-management and unwanted hierarchies. With this approach, developers are left to do it without any outside nuisances – as long they’re following the other principles of their respective methodologies.

To be successful, developers need not only technical skills but also those related to project management. This is because both Lean and Agile encourage continuous learning through the use of kaizen (sometimes called “improvements”). The main idea is that all the while developers work on a project to meet the client’s needs best, they should invest just as much time in learning new skills and trying new approaches.

Differences of Lean vs Agile


Approach to speed and iteration

The agile approach entails delivering the product’s working pieces as quickly and efficiently as possible. This allows teams ample opportunity for customer feedback, which can be utilized when making changes to upcoming work items.

The difference between the Lean principle of Deliver Fast and Agile is that in Lean Thinking, teams increase speed by managing flow (usually through limiting work-in-process). Agile principles emphasize small batch sizes to deliver quickly.

Method for putting customers first

The Agile approach focuses on communication between end-users or customers and developers. This is achieved by concentrating open feedback through iterations that encourage constant change, even in the late stages of development when requirements might have been finalized previously.

Lean teams put customers first by focusing on building and improving processes that allow them to do just what the name says; eliminate waste (by Lean definition). Waste can be anything from context switching, too much work in progress, or manual completion when automation could help. While lean also aims for voice-driven decision-making with equal emphasis on streamlining their own process.

Role of discipline

Agile project management is not as rigid or structured but is still more organized than the old-school systems of Lean. Other disciplines like disciplined processes ensure that this system works well together and allows for quick adaptations.

They rely on:

  • Defined roles
  • Structured meetings
  • Estimation techniques
  • Systematic reviews

Lean thinking relies on discipline as its main driving force. The idea behind this approach is that if your employees believe in what they’re doing from the ground up – their jobs will become more accessible because of how committed everyone becomes when working together towards one goal: success!

Respect for the customer, fellow employees, and your current state of the organization is at heart what makes lean principles easier to implement in theory but often more challenging across more prominent organizations.

Lean vs Agile Management: Which one is better?

It is a challenge to choose which methodology best suits your business. Lean vs Agile both have their advantages for the development process, but it all depends on what you’re looking for in an approach.

The development process will likely go faster by eliminating waste and maintaining quality. However, stressing collaboration will ensure the customer’s satisfaction with the final product.

Lean vs Agile are used interchangeably because businesses want to take advantage of both worlds. Now, that’s a stretch. Businesses are often seeking a compromise between the two approaches, but it is essential not only to choose one method over another; instead, they need an extract from each world that best suits their needs.

Lean vs Agile Management work well when combined to create a more efficient workplace. The key is finding the right balance between these two perspectives so that they can be applied effectively for your specific organization’s needs, rather than focusing on one approach exclusively.

Despite the popular idea that agile and lean management systems are only for “ticky-toe” companies, these approaches work well when applied correctly. In reality, Lean vs Agile have been successful across various environments with similar foundational objectives: delivering value efficiently while maintaining transparency in connecting strategy goals so employees can contribute to their full potential.

Lean management underscores people, learning & betterment while highlighting the same values as Agile. However, the collaborative nature of Agile makes this methodology stand out more than other approaches (particularly for large projects).

To get the most out of your project, you need a qualified and experienced team in software development. Contact us if you want to learn about Lean vs Agile Management.