Jan 19, 2009

Lean, Six-Sigma, and so forth

I recently began training to become a Six Sigma Black Belt. The training also includes Lean topics ala Lean-Sigma. I'm pretty impressed with the potential here - though there's nothing really new to speak of.

The greatest benefit of Lean is that it draws attention to a common problem with process improvement initiatives, especially those driven by models such as CMMI and ISO 9000: the creation of onerous overhead that often offsets the gains. Lean looks for waste - and is severe in its definition - forcing careful consideration of everything that's done.

In fact, Lean captures some of the essence of Agile methods, inasmuch as these are an attempt to cut through the red tape and quickly produce a quality product. One could legitimately claim that Agile Methodology is a result of Lean thinking, whether or not the formal methods of Lean were used to derive it.

It's no paradox that the phrase "Lean and Agile" escapes the tongue with such ease, because the physical attributes represented by these metaphorical terms are naturally connected.