Lean strategy is an important part of building the overall business strategy in Agile organizations that develop their products.
Lean practices seem easy to the average user, but integrating Agile approaches in a real environment is difficult.
In this article, we describe a basic Lean strategy that you can use in your organization. If you use Scrum and modern project and product management practices, these Agile ideas will benefit you. Reference: https://ossalumni.org/kanban-scrum-and-lean-in-agile-projects/
Integration of Lean strategy in Agile organization
Efficiency, effectiveness, minimum cost, maximum revenue, increased added value, continuous improvement, sense of belonging, commitment, creativity, thought, and rigorous application approach – are things inherent in a successful organization.
For an organization to be successful, a precise strategy is also necessary, a good analysis of the situation ‘where’ the given organization is and ‘where’ it wants to go, what path it will draw, what stages it will include, and what resource it will cover to realize its development strategy. Reference: “Lean strategy with Kaizen for Agile organizations“, https://newia.info/lean-strategy-with-kaizen-for-agile-organizations/
For the organization to be successful in achieving all of the above, all of its employees (from top management to operations staff) must understand the importance of this success. Therefore, the Lean strategy should be implemented at every level in the given organization, to create good internal communication, leading to the resolution of problems and/or their preventive removal.
A lean strategy should focus and pay attention to:
Teams of employees to work effectively and efficiently, themselves professing this self-awareness, applying certain approaches to provoke self-awareness and thought in the right direction; Reference: “Lean Management strategy for development in software companies with Scrum and Kanban“, https://projectmanagement.news.blog/2021/01/24/lean-management-strategy-for-development-in-software-companies-with-scrum-and-kanban/
Team managers to demand an effective and efficient mode of work at all stages, carrying out the specified training and monitoring for this purpose, showing empathy, tolerance, participating at certain levels of the process, and sharing good practices;
The senior management should deal with the costs by relying on qualified personnel, reducing the time for work and, respectively, the financial resource for its implementation through the defined approaches and practices to achieve them;
Continuous improvement. By striving for continuous improvement and achieving continuous improvement, product/service development teams will add value, leading respectively to increased revenue, as quality will be high and the end customer will be satisfied; Staff training in how to ‘satisfy a customer’ and fully understand that this service takes place at all levels, from start to finish, and is a continuous process, a dynamic process that implies highly adaptive norms of behavior and performance;
To satisfy the client, the employee should also be satisfied – the management should ensure freedom of action, stimulate and navigate in the desired direction the belonging of the employees to the organization; their creativity and professionalism, to add value to themselves to create value in the realization of the projects. Source: “Lean integration in organizations – a real example“, https://mstsnl.net/lean-integration-in-organizations-example/
I believe that the Lean strategy and its implementation should start from the top down. When senior management shares this idea, middle management as well as operational staff will be properly attracted to it.
For senior management, the approach would be general. How will it help to address the challenges on the way to realizing the strategy? For teams, the approach should be detailed, and what needs to be done to realize the strategy, taking into account the basic principles of a successful organization.
Unwillingness/misunderstanding on the part of management to participate in any way in strategy development processes; Resolution: demonstrating good results, to convince which is the right way;
Time to educate/acquaint the teams with the main goals, setting direction; Resolution: creating trust and confidence in their capabilities; Reference: “Strategy for Lean Thinking and Learning in Organizations”, https://customessaysonline.net/strategy-for-lean-thinking/
Unity, togetherness in developing the products/services; If part of the team is not committed to the basic principles and idea, the whole process will break down; Solution: presentation of the negative result and side with a bad homogeneous operating environment;
Lack of motivation; Resolution: fine-tuning in hiring the right team; removal of waste;
Lean adds business value to the organization and projects
The goal of Lean thinking is to bring business value to the Agile organization. The following sample topics may be particularly relevant to your company. Consider these examples of added business value when creating your Lean strategy.
Organizational culture – I put organizational culture first because disruptions in a company’s hierarchy, structure, or values can make employees feel out of place. Therefore, people are not willing to go to work, are not motivated, and will want to leave the organization quickly.
Behavior, skills, and maturity of employees – all people in the company must treat each other with respect, understanding, and respect. There should be no gossip, back talking, or unpleasant insinuations because it disturbs the harmony and mood of the people, which again leads to demotivation. The emotional intelligence of everyone in the enterprise is of utmost importance to ensure a balanced, calm, and highly productive work environment.
Human relations – to increase work efficiency, everyone must know their duties and be responsible for the results obtained. Each team must work together and be ready to help. Everyone must discuss the activities with others to avoid mistakes, inaccuracies, or duplication of work. Communication comes first in human relationships.
Work processes – need to be in continuous synchronization and optimization to gain more time and not miss deadlines.
Usability, utility, and value of products
Before a product is manufactured, multi-level studies are conducted on how it will contribute to the market with its functionality, innovation, and features. The correlation between price and quality should also be considered to reach a larger number of customers and accordingly generate large profits, which is the goal of any business.
The more value the products provide to customers, the more our services will be in demand and the more profits will increase.
Connections between business and people
User and customer satisfaction
Time to market
Reduction of redundancies in the organization and among teams (time, money, labor)
Shortened production processes
The company hierarchy should not be complex and multi-level, to facilitate communication and everyone is aware of who they can turn to for help or with whom to discuss problems that have arisen.
Everyone knows who their manager is;
Managers, in turn, need to know their teams. To know how everyone works and also to be interested in the physical and mental health of their people. Employees must feel valued and know that they contribute to the development of the company. Only in this way will they stay motivated and give more and more of themselves. We are all human and we all need to be heard and our achievements recognized and rewarded. Original source: “Lean training and integration in organizations”, https://stc-montreal.org/lean-training-and-integration-in-organizations/
The organization’s business goals are clearly defined and everyone strives for them;
Lean through modernization and innovation:
A modern and interactive base where employees feel cozy, and special and enjoy the work process.
It is good that the base has separate rooms for conferences, small meetings, phone calls, a gym, a kitchen, and corners for socialization.
People in the organization show respect for each other and work productively:
This largely depends on the personal behavior, value system, and emotional intelligence of each of the participants;
To deal with such situations, every organization should have a company psychologist who knows the employees well and prevents the “wrong” behavior of the employees;
Company seminars for personal development and self-improvement would be helpful;
Reduce the number of people leaving the organization through Lean approaches
If the points listed above are implemented and the work of people is adequately rewarded, according to the achievements of each employee, the turnover of valuable personnel would be reduced to an absolute minimum.
Conflicts between employees
Here again, we have to ask the psychologists and people from the human resources department. If they cannot prevent conflict situations between employees, then it is necessary to part with the irritants and hire people who would fit into the company’s policy and ethics.
Lean thinking can increase the image of the organization:
The image (reputation) with which the company is famous is the set of qualified, motivated, and purposeful employees who remain loyal to the organization for years, as well as the success and quality of the manufactured products and the trust that is built with customers.
When all stakeholders are satisfied, the company’s image prospers.
Everyone in the organization constantly improves their personal and professional qualities:
When everyone is satisfied with what they get, they will have the desire and motivation to give of themselves.
Participation in training and seminars offered by the company is a great solution and incentive for people to want to develop.
Team members look for and remove obstacles without waiting for management to do so:
This can only be achieved when the management has shown that it has absolute confidence in the employees and has trained them to handle any situation.
Management and team members work together to optimize processes and accelerate development time:
It is achieved through weekly meetings where project stages, work that has been done, and future tasks are discussed;
Everyone must be familiar with customer requirements and always keep the information up to date to avoid mistakes;
The project budget is strictly defined and therefore care must be taken not to make mistakes in the project stages that will lead to new costs.
The tools and environment are constantly improving:
A flexible work system should be provided, such as the ability to work from home when necessary, so as not to lag behind the work process;
The working atmosphere should be suitable for everyone, it should be calm, quiet, sufficiently light, with a moderate room temperature
Computers and machines are in full working order and meet people’s needs;
Each employee is provided with a comfortable workplace;
Unnecessary documents, processes, and communications are avoided
There are meetings with the customers, with the different teams, and with the managers, which are held on specific days, where the necessary topics are discussed so that everyone is aware of what needs to be done. Reference: “Lean thinking and implementation of Agile management“, https://wikipedia-lab.org/lean-thinking-and-implementation-of-agile-management/
The root causes of problems, defects, and obstacles are analyzed, tracked, and eliminated:
Communication and experienced actions of managers play a big role;
Quality standards are followed and implemented without significant waste of time and resources:
It is necessary to carry out tests on the products to establish their quality (quality control);
Fatigue management through Lean management tools
Burnout is managed and teams don’t spend too much time on trivial tasks:
Everyone should have well-defined responsibilities and be able to handle them. If the tasks start piling up, then either the person fails to cope with time management or needs someone to help him.
There may be periods when employees have to stay longer than necessary to meet deadlines, but this should not be a permanent phenomenon, as it will lead to overwork and burnout.
Documentation and requirements are created and maintained in an easy and convenient style, so
so that everyone understands them easily and saves time from unnecessary discussions and misunderstandings:
It is recommended that everyone has access to the server with all project documentation, plans, and communications so that a quick response can be made if a colleague is absent;
Plans and documents must be accessible and comprehensible and created for everyone to navigate. It is good not to use many colors or different fonts because the data becomes difficult to read;
Everyone working on this project participates in the emails, so everyone is aware of what’s new;
Meetings and discussions do not waste time and always lead to desired results:
Meetings have a specific time;
Asking the right questions to get accurate and clear answers;
It is recommended that during the meetings, the information is recorded in a file, which is then sent by email to all interested parties;
Product development focuses on the most important goals and needs:
The set goals are clear to all and strive for them from the beginning to the end of the project;
A life cycle is drawn up, which will be worked on;
All results, concepts, and product versions are validated with real users, and the risk of the unwanted product is limited
Customer and user satisfaction is constantly increasing
When questions arise, we always ask customers and take into account their requirements;
When we meet deadlines or are even pre-prepared;
When we have met all the requirements for the project and the quality of the product is at a high level;
There are no irreplaceable employees
It is good that all project participants are well acquainted with the tasks performed by their colleagues. Only in this way will the project go smoothly, even if a colleague is absent;
In this way, every employee will have the right to leave when he needs it;
Evaluation of the organization by employees
Organizational leaders need feedback on what they are doing well and where they need improvement, so it would be great to run anonymous surveys twice a year about the work environment, wants and needs of employees;
Personal conversations with each employee, in the middle and at the end of the year, to discuss topics such as the working atmosphere in the company in general, as well as specifically for the team, will also be of great benefit. in which areas the employee feels confident and in which there are needs for improvement and additional knowledge, etc.