I founded Oxzigen Lean IT consulting after 16 years of managing IT teams at some of the world’s largest financial institutions. I learned a great deal from these companies, but I also felt that they could be getting more value out of their IT organizations. Though they hired talented people and spent a great deal of money on IT, too often projects were delivered late, went over-budget, and/or did not meet customer expectations. It seemed there had to be a better way and I was determined to find the most effective methods for improving the performance of IT teams both large and small.
Not surprisingly, I did not discover a silver bullet that will solve every problem for every organization. What I have found, however, is that it’s possible for most teams to start substantially improving their productivity by making incremental adjustments to the way they already work. The Lean IT approach is unique in that does not require that you change what you are doing all at once. So why isn’t everybody already doing this? For one thing, this approach requires active participation from management. It is not something that can be imposed on “workers” from above. In addition, Lean IT focuses on “how” to change, not “what” to change. It’s simply not possible for anyone outside the organization to provide all the answers. In the long run, though, your organization will adapt better to ongoing change and will not have to look “outside” for answers.
What about agile? The agile movement brought with it some useful practices that were adopted by many IT organizations, but it was not the panacea they had hoped for. It did not, in fact, address many of the challenges of scaling IT to meet the needs of larger, more complex organizations. Today, innovative IT organizations are looking to Lean IT as the natural evolution of Lean practices that have been developed and refined by manufacturing and service organizations for decades. Many of these practices can be readily adapted to the needs of IT. And there’s no need to throw away agile since lean and agile work nicely together.