While the Agile community is finally starting to embrace Lean it’s still behind the curve. The real target is flow via business agility – the quick realization of value sustainably, predictably and with high quality.
Even this is no longer cutting edge. Donald Reinertsen’s Principles of Product Development Flow is over a decade old. Agile’s recent adoption of Lean is good but it still is a bottom-up approach. Thinking in terms of flow creates a better context and will put you years ahead of current, common thinking.
Flow focuses on selecting those items that will provide the greatest value and then removing handoffs and delays in the process of manifesting them. Flow takes a systems thinking approach, suggests small batches, management queues and having short feedback cycles.
Lean-Thinking is a method to achieve flow. It attends to the system, focuses on creating an ecosystem within which people can work well, suggest Middle-Up-Down Management, and focuses on reducing delays while improving quality.
Flow is what we’re trying to achieve.
Lean is the way we’re managing the system to achieve it.
Agile relates to the teams in the process.
If you’re looking for the next wave in Agile, jump to Flow.