The Scrum Guide now claims Scrum is based on empiricism and Lean-Thinking. I first stated that Scrum could be thought of as a partial implementation of Lean in 2007. The creators of Scrum flatly denied this at the time. While Scrum does use a few semi-Lean practices, it is not based on Lean-Thinking. This is important to understand since thinking it is based on Lean-Thinking obscures what Lean is. Lean can be used to both improve Scrum and go beyond it, but only if you look to learn. 

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” Epictetus

Unfortunately, many people in the Agile community think they understand Lean by having read a book or two. It’s worth considering where you get your information from. There are three levels of understanding lean:

  1. Lean is based on the Toyota Production System (TPS) and is about manufacturing.
  2. Lean can be understood by looking at the TPS and directly translating it into knowledge work.
  3. One must look at the universal principles underlying the TPS and use them for your situation.

Many people talk about Lean from the first two perspectives. While there is some value there, that is not genuinely Lean thinking.  One of the best books to start with is Lean-Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, by Womack and Jones. 

I have been studying Deming and Lean since the late 80s. It is not a simple topic. My understanding continues to evolve. I have collected several blogs I have written over the last three years on Lean and Scrum. The purpose for collecting these is threefold:

  1. It’s important not to accept the misstatement that Scrum is based on Lean-Thinking because that will obscure the value of Lean
  2. Learn Lean-Thinking to improve Scrum
  3. Learn Lean-Thinking to go beyond Scrum

 Blogs on the topic – most recent ones on top:

Go to Amplio@Teams: The Path to Effective Lean-Agile Teams


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