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Lean Delivery Mechanisms – Programme and Product Management

This post is written to compare and contrast how most companies have been set up. Lean has a new way of thinking and is making very large inroads into the software industry.

You should read this if:

  • If your competitors are releasing products that their customers want faster than you and therefore your business is at risk
  • If you want to stop wasting money on products your customers don’t want
  • If you want to understand staff performance in your company
  • If you want to set your company up to be product and not project focused

Traditional Approach – Delivery Structure

Here we see a standard company set up for delivering projects (simplified):


Traditional Approach – Project Focus


Lean Approach – Product Focus


Traditional Approach – Typical Value Stream


Here is an example of the number of steps, between each of these there is a delay

  • This can be a Scrum based organisation
  • Activities before project delivery taking excessive time
  • Project delivery team put under pressure to deliver quickly
  • Mean time to project failure is around 10 months!
  • Large scale investment wasted

All delays and steps will depend on the actual organisation

Lean Approach –  Ideal Value Stream


In this case we generate ideas as experiments

  • Teams are not created based on large projects and programmes
  • Small features allow the assignment of the next most important thing to do
  • Experimental feature may be a prototype and not a fully built solution

This is an example only, feature size and set up may vary

Lean Approach –  Build Measure Learn


  • Fail at a scale you can afford
  • Treat all change as a learning
  • Speed up feedback loops – fail fast

Traditional Approach – Improvements

Delivery improved at a local level

  • Project manager improves project processes
  • Development Manager improves development processes
  • Operations manager improves operations processes
  • Scrum teams improve at a local level
  • Organisational culture rewards people on component parts

Lean Approach – Improvements

Delivery improved at a system level

  • Holistic view of the system taken by all
  • Strategic improvements aimed at the system
  • Component parts understand their role in the whole
  • Reduce hand-off of information
  • Benefits realisation targeted and rewarded
  • Learning and adaptation targeted and rewarded

Systemic Approach to Failure – Demming

“I should estimate that in my experience most troubles and most possibilities for improvement add up to the proportions something like this:

  • 94% belongs to the system (responsibility of management)
  • 6% special”



Systemic Approach to Success

In this same model we see testers rewarded for their successful defect discovery rates (not that they’re doing a bad job!)



Dev Ops Culture Example


Faster feedback loops:

  • Release faster
  • Identify failure faster
  • Simplifies error correction if less has changed

“But it’s just a flexible framework!”

  • You see frameworks claiming they have solved how to deliver and effectively managed risk
  • Core principles of learning and systemic thinking are missing or a minor part of their definitions
  • This drives poor behaviour and can cripple a company
  • Agile and Lean work from principles
    • Working software over documentation – Agile example
    • Identify waste – Lean example
  • Good practice should be applied rather than enforcing “best” practice for complex problem domains

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