In this post I want to step back from the details in the series on the underlying principles and why they are so important and instead take a quick look again at the ultimate goals and benefits of Lean initiatives. While this topic has been discussed many times in many forums, it’s always helpful to remind ourselves what the point is of adopting Lean. Well, in tribute to the retiring David Letterman, here are our top 10 benefits of Lean.
These benefits are listed in order in which they are usually realized. For example, after you have #1, then you get some of #2, and so on. In fact, they are all related and/or build upon each other.
A major component of Lean and visual work management is greater visibility -- greater visibility of the work in progress, who is doing the work, task priorities, the short and long term plan, risks and project status. Usually everyone, from team members to senior management get more of the information they want.
While there are times when ignorance is bliss, that doesn’t always hold true for seasoned product developers. Like driving with blindfolds on, a lack of visibility to the dangers ahead can be very stressful. Being in the know about where the project is with respect to the goals and objectives means the team understands where they fit and why their contribution matters.
Knowledge is power. With access to knowledge, the team can manage risks and resources effectively. Team members are ‘empowered’ by knowledge and can make better decisions, which results is a more responsive, more ‘agile’ development system
While we may not be happy about needing to take alternate routes, it’s better than being stuck in traffic, powerless to move, or worse - involved in an accident we couldn’t avoid because we didn’t have enough control to steer clear of it. When we are Lean, we have alternate routes to success and can choose the best path to get there.
With more control and more options, we are far more likely to meet our goals, which include the delivery of high value products to our customers and our business. When we know what the customer really wants and we have enough control over our development system, we deliver great products.
Are you sensing a trend here? When we deliver great products, and satisfy the real needs of our customers, everyone feels good. When we aren’t fighting fires ignited by poor quality or poor sales, spending our precious time redoing something we didn’t do well initially, but instead focusing on our customers’ next real need, it can even be fun.
With greater knowledge about our product development system, better decision-making capability, and less time spent fighting fires on the last project, we will complete the next project far more quickly.
Sense of accomplishment
One of the key goals of every product development project is to complete it before it is ‘too late’ – before we miss the market, or some competitor beats us to the punch, or we simply lose a lot of sales because it took too long to get there. Meeting the goals and just getting ‘done’ quickly, with a high quality, high value product, is very satisfying.
Time is Money – not only in the sense that Ben Franklin meant when he coined the phrase, but also in the very real sense that, every day we aren’t selling our product because it isn’t ready yet, is a day’s worth of profits we are not making. Meeting our customer’s needs quickly is hugely profitable.
Of course, when the company is making money, it is easier to acquire people to help carry the load, and there are more funds available for the software tools, test equipment, spare parts, and other things that help people perform their jobs well. This is yet again another way life is just better in a good, truly lean, organization.
Interested in understanding more Lean-Agile Principles? Check out our free Lean-Agile training on Playbook Academy such as Rolling-Wave Planning, Applying Agile to Hardware and Critical Chain Project Management.
Our goal at Playbook is to help engineers love their jobs. We believe Lean in its various forms holds many of the keys to a "grand unifying theory" that provides the means to eliminate the conflicts that often exist between team members and management, and to achieve happy people and high profits at the same time. We believe it because we’ve seen it – time and time again. And we want to share the good news.
Want to learn more about Lean project management? Check out our Guide to Lean Project Management and share the core principles of Lean with your team.
Lean project management
Lean project management methodology
Lean project management Kanban
Lean project management principles
Lean project management resource management
Lean project management Pull vs. push
Lean project management task management
Lean project management and shared project buffers
Lean project management and decentralized planning
Daily stand-up meetings
Guide to Lean Project Management
Guide to Kanban