Book Club

Why It’s Time to Experiment with Lean Enterprise

Share this post:

Book Club Banner

By Jez Humble, Joanne Molesky and Barry O’Reilly

The use of software and digital services has exploded. It is now possible to build, evolve, and scale new products and services rapidly with little capital investment using technology and software. Startups target lucrative high-margin services, slowly eroding the profits of large enterprises that are unable to keep pace with the rate of change demanded by customers. This is driving established enterprises to re-examine their relationship and interactions with their customers and how they manage their people, products and processes so they can stay relevant and in business. Their search for continuous improvement has lead the market leaders to Lean.

Simply put, Lean means creating more value for customers using fewer resources[1]. It focuses on the concepts of scientific experimentation, rapid learning cycles and adjustments that were pioneered by Toyota on their manufacturing floor. Today, more enterprises are using it in the context of information technology. Some have managed to improve value delivered through technology by applying the principles and concepts of Agile and Continuous Delivery. However, we find that there is still a gap in thinking about how to use technology as a strategic capability that prevents them from maximizing that value.

Too often we find IT is still viewed as an order-taking function or cost center to the business with no knowledge or relationship with the rest of the organization or customers. This lack of cross-functional collaboration and end-to-end thinking of processes and decision-making becomes a recipe for failure.

We’re all in the technology business today. Even if our main business is tied to physical assets and people, it is technology the enables the delivery of our services to customers. Business leaders must have a good understanding of the capabilities of technology and create an environment that fosters learning and innovation to stay in the game. This requires fundamental changes in the way we manage and direct knowledge workers throughout our organization.

The most successful enterprises are those whose leaders focus on meeting customer needs by clarifying goals, shortening feedback cycles and measuring performance based on outcomes, rather than outputs. Failure to take an end-to-end view of business processes and how they affect all parties along the value stream results in an inability to adjust to customer needs in a timely manner, no matter how well your IT department performs. Rigid processes and structures designed to optimize functional silos such as finance, risk and compliance inhibit the ability of all teams to experiment and learn or prevent them from taking responsibility and accountability for the outcome of their work.

Lean thinking is a proven strategy that allows businesses to thrive in uncertainty by embracing change in a scientific and deliberate manner. The very heart of Lean thinking is to allow people to experiment to solve problems within the organization and improve the value delivered to customers. Set the direction you aim to go. Understand where you are and define a target condition to get to. We create an experiment to move towards that target condition. Finally, take the knowledge you learn to update your vision and inform your next step. It is an ongoing feedback loop and never stops, because change is always constant … as should be our evolution.

[1] http://www.lean.org/WhatsLean

More Book Club stories

Sametime Limited Use 10.0: What You Need to Know

June 14, 2019 | Collaborat​ion

Sametime Limited Use 10.0 is live!   Sametime Limited Use is essentially a “chat-only” version of Sametime for entitled Notes/Domino customers. It includes Sametime Community Server/Sametime Proxy Server / All 3 clients: rich, web, and mobile.   Kathleen Brady Jackson and Pat Galvin hosted a webcast in May to go through the new value it ...read more


Important changes for customers using the IBM Connections Chat app for Android

May 10, 2019 | Collaborat​ion

On May 29, 2019, Google will disable the Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) server and client APIs. Android apps on GCM will need to be migrated to the Google Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) server to ensure that mobile service notifications continue to operate after May 29, 2019. Additionally, the audio and video (A/V) functionality in the ...read more


Domino V10 Wins Hearts of Admins and Developers

May 8, 2019 | Collaborat​ion

In March, there were several events focusing on Domino, Sametime and Connections in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (D-A-CH). These were two special events for extremely dedicated audiences that I attended, and share the highlights from these here. Each event attracted close to 200 attendees! The strong attendance and engagement are excellent indicators of the growing ...read more