How having a Lean-Agile Mindset benefits agile teams?

The combination of the Lean thinking and the Agile Manifesto concepts creates the Lean-Agile Mindset. Lean and Agile complement each other to yield better results in the shortest sustainable time with the highest level of delivery. The Lean-Agile Mindset is adopted by leaders who have a clear understanding of the principles of Lean and Agile.

In order to develop the Lean-Agile Mindset, the fundamentals of Lean and Agile have to be understood.

Agile provides a set of principles that produce high-quality software in short increments by adapting to changing requirements with continuous delivery. Based on the Agile Manifesto, it was step up from the Waterfall model.

The Agile Manifesto states:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

The following are the traits involved in becoming Agile:

·         It encourages being adaptive and responsive to change.

·         It promotes increased collaboration and interaction among individuals.

·         Shorter planning of iteration results in creating tangible value.

·         Developing software faster in increments to get feedback in the shortest amount of time.

·         Agile has “sprints” to focus on agile delivery of customer-valued artifacts.

·         Aligns each person’s job to the customer value.

·         Sets the role and responsibilities of the people for the work they need to do and sets the boundary for the work done.

·         Agile is not a methodology rather an umbrella of values and principles.

·         SCRUM KANBAN or XP are the ways of becoming Agile.

Lean is centered on preserving value with less work. It is a long-term business strategy that focuses on manufacturing and production to maximize customer value while considering the expenditure of resources.

It takes into view the overall system beyond the development team focusing on how the organization is delivering its value. Lean principles are as follows:

1. Respect for People

·         Thoroughly understanding the customer’s values and to work at their speed to create products that satisfy their needs.

·         Do not make the customer wait and avoid delays.

·         Build relationships on trust.

·         Respect for people is essential for lean. The people in the upper level of management are involved with the individuals at the development level. Together they identify the problem, what is causing the problem, how to solve the problem and agreeing on a mutual solution to solve the problem.

·         Gives the team a purpose and a vision to work on.

2. Flow

·         Works on the PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT method of problem-solving and improvement.

·         The processes are organized, managed and measured around value streams.

·         Waste Elimination is recognizing and eliminating activities that have no value. These activities include partially done work, handoffs or switching tasks.

·         Limits the amount of work that has to be done. This helps in maintaining a continuous and sustainable workflow to build high-quality products.

·         Faster the products are built, lesser the costs.

3. Innovation

  • Provides ample room for creativity

4. Relentless improvement

  • The entire value stream has to be considered from its concept to its creation to improve quality and flow of value.
  • A retrospective of the activities done.

This is implemented by Lean-Agile Teams consisting of 5-10 members who are cross-functional, self-organizing and self-managing in nature. These teams are part of the Agile Release Train. The benefits of adopting the Lean-Agile mindset create effective leaders that empower every individual in their teams. These leaders ensure that every team member possesses the ability and the authority to define, build, test and deploy in every iteration. All the members share the common vision and contribute in every way to attain success. Innovation and creativity is supported and encouraged. Most importantly, it promotes building relationships based on trust. Trust amongst team members and maintaining trust with the customer in providing fast and high quality delivery of software.

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