Agile as a way to profitable growth

Not only should Agile or Lean concepts be adopted for projects, but it should also be harnessed at an organizational level to be more competitive.

By focusing more on the bottom line and ignoring the human capital it was one of the reasons What Killed GM:

General Motors managers became very numbers obsessed and bottom-line driven – to the detriment of innovation, creativity and ultimately the product itself.

While GM was obsessing over the bottom-line, it missed the boat on creating automobiles that more people would buy – and love.

And it goes further to say

Lean means more than simply cutting costs or streamlining. Lean, as successfully applied to manufacturing, means doing things “simpler, faster, better, cheaper”.  Notice that the last item on the list is cheaper. If you adopt a systems perspective into every business process. You find where the waste is and you drive it out, focusing on doing things faster and with higher quality, cost will naturally be driven out of the system.

In lean IT, the focus is on collaborative teamwork—represented by all parts of the business—to deliberatively and systematically tackle problems. Right now, IT is forced to fight fires every day. The focus of lean IT is to put forth “a set of principles that says you are going to slow down in order to speed up”.

In a recent article, SOA, Agile and Cloud will pave the way to Lean IT, states that:

in fact, cost-cutting itself, the prime mission of every C-level executive these days, essentially becomes a secondary consideration of the lean approach. As organizations adopt lean methodologies and practices, streamlined costs become a natural byproduct of the process.

In the wreckage of a 24 month ERP/ CMS/ Web project delivery at Lonely Planet (so waterfall the program reviews were known as the ‘Nuremberg Trials’), the seeds of an Agile IT organization, coupled with an ITIL focused operations team were adopted to bring Lonely Planet back from the brink of IT. In this case, Agile was adopted not for strategic purposes but for bare necessity and survival.  Now under BBC ownership, Agile is a well ingrained habit, with new ventures into book product development using Agile and Scrum – a great example how Scrum can be used for non-IT related business process.

There is a lot of benefit for being an Agile and Lean organization.

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