Agile is Lean for Software Development

December 10, 20081 min

I know – not the most profound insight or the most original.  I think I am finally beginning to understand the relationship between the two after studying all this Lean Six Sigma and Design Six Sigma stuff.  Agile is simply a co-evalent instance of the Lean concepts and principles applied to software development.   I don’t think there really is a “Lean software development” – it is just “Lean applied to software development”.

While I respect the Poppendiecks, and they have been thinking about this WAY longer than I have, I think Lean software development misses the mark.  IMO, they have tried too hard to build the bridge from Lean manufactoring to the software world.  It seems to me that some of the subtleties of Lean are lost with the Poppendiecks’s books, Lean Software Development and Implementing Lean Software Development.

OK, that is a serious charge to make against some of the most respected thoughtleaders on Lean software development by a guy who has, admittedly, not that much experience with Lean.   Now, it is very likely I am completely misundertanding their writings or what they are saying has evolved from their writings.   What is missing from their writings is much of the innovation the Lean Six Sigma and Design for Six Sigma world has brought to the table.  Alan Shalloway seems to be pushing the Lean envelope further than the Poppendiecks.  I think that he gets there is really no such this as Lean software development, but that it is all just Lean.