Being lean doesn’t mean being mean.
Or, working yourself down to skin and bone. It doesn't mean either to brute
force results or even to be brutally efficient.
What does it mean to be lean?
I have the good fortune of being part of a start-up consulting firm. To us, being lean means that we are focused on the same thing: We are building a firm that walks the walk and not just talks the talk of being lean and agile when it comes to Agile software development.
And, what makes us lean?
1. Focus on a clear goal. Lean doesn’t exist without a laser focus on a goal. That goal might be a product in the market place, it might be the hiring of the best people so they can drive us forward with their ability to set and achieve goals. But just saying we are “gonna grow”; that is not a goal. Now, saying: “We are going to build our way to having three engagements a quarter where we help companies implement or improve their ability to release software to production” – That is a goal that we can focus on.
2. Focus on the most valuable work at hand. Next – we don’t try to do everything all at once. We focus on the work at hand -- And the most valuable work at hand at that. We actually limit our work in process. We understand and have built simple tools to display amongst our leadership team what is not started, what is in progress, and what is We don’t add to work in progress until something is completed and we are very selective when determining what to do next - it has to generate the most value of the available items to start.
3. Focus on learning. Last but not least – getting paid does not mean you have sustainable success. In a lean start-up, learning is probably just as important as getting paid. Being rigorous in this learning is critical. Don’t just discover what customers want or need, develop plans that test and validate your understanding so that you can build a sustainable product.
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