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:
- Lean is based on the Toyota Production System (TPS) and is about manufacturing.
- Lean can be understood by looking at the TPS and directly translating it into knowledge work.
- 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:
- It’s important not to accept the misstatement that Scrum is based on Lean-Thinking because that will obscure the value of Lean
- Learn Lean-Thinking to improve Scrum
- Learn Lean-Thinking to go beyond Scrum
Blogs on the topic – most recent ones on top:
- If you’re taking a CSM workshop because you’ve heard Scrum is based on Lean-Thinking, make sure the following is covered
- Why I say Scrum Is Not Based on Lean Thinking as claimed in the Scrum guide
- How well does Scrum follow flow and Lean principles?
- Explaining Lean By Showing How To Make Scrum Truly Incorporate Lean-Thinking
- How a little Lean theory can help those doing Scrum
- What Scrum 20 would look like if Scrum really put Lean in
- Improving Scrum by Attending to Flow, not Merely Using It
- The Difference Between Inspect and Adapt and Plan do Study Act (PDSA)
- Is it really Lean?
- Why you need science as well as empiricism to enroll management in Agile
- Why Lean and Flow Thinking Make Things Simpler
- The Difference Between Scrum and Lean
- The New Scrum Game – Article.
- Putting Lean-Kanban practices into Scrum is not the same as being Lean
- Improve Your Scrum By Using Flow Thinking