In this blog, we frequently touch on methodologies that are employed to make management practices more versatile and dynamic. And it’s no wonder: the issues that we cover here tend to focus on trends in technology, and we all know how fast that market is capable of changing. Therefore, these methods gain even more importance since they are used to help simplify your processes, making your company more responsive to any new demands that the market throws in your direction. One important method is the lean methodology, which prioritizes efficiency and employee integration. In today’s post, we’ll take a deeper look at what this methodology is all about.
What is the lean methodology?
Lean methodology seeks to use nothing more than the resources required to perform a particular job, task or process, thereby avoiding waste.
Considering that we are a technology firm, we can associate lean methodology with the Agile Manifesto, which also delineates a series of practices that are intended to streamline development processes.
Where did the term originate?
The concept of “lean manufacturing” began to be used in the 1980s. At the time, it was associated with the optimization of vehicle production in the Japanese automotive industry.
However, it was Professor James P. Womack of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who made lean culture known worldwide, when he published his book The Machine That Changed the World, in 1990 – which he wrote together with Daniel T. Jones and Daniel Roos. In that book, Womack elaborated on his study of the automobile industry, especially Toyota.
Have you heard about lean startups, too?
Lean startup is a concept that was derived from Womack’s findings. It is an expression created by the American businessman Eric Ries, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Ries coined and fleshed out the concept in his book, The Lean Startup, published in 2011, which sold over one million copies in thirty different languages. The book is based on the knowledge acquired by Ries, who developed a method to combine marketing, technology, management techniques with his experience in startups.
Mr. Ries’ objective was to create a universal methodology that could be implemented in any type of company – including large companies, where it could be used as a powerful tool for improving results.
A derivative of this methodology is lean marketing, which is the application of the concept lean to the processes in the sector – targeting the optimization of the use of financial, human and temporal resources. Here, in our blog, we’ve already discussed agile marketing in a previous post.
Therefore, talking about lean startup and lean marketing is also about lean methodology. Now let’s see how you can apply it to your management.
Putting lean methodology into practice
One of the significant merits of lean culture is that it can help your company launch new products on the market. In this article in the Harvard Business Review, Steve Blank, an associate professor at Stanford University, says the method is based on three key principles:
1 – Streamline your business model with Canvas
According to Professor Blank, you should understand that when it comes time to launch a product, no matter how much research and development has gone into your business plan, your product is based on a series of untested hypotheses. Hypotheses that will subsequently need to be proven.
So, the professor says that in lean culture, instead of engaging in months of research to elaborate a major business plan, companies should use a tool called a business model canvas to summarize their theories and hypotheses. Basically, this is a diagram that shows how a company creates value for itself and its customers.
2 – Test the possibilities with Customer Development
After structuring everything with the business model canvas, you should test your assumptions with an approach called customer development. For this you need to exchange information with potential users, buyers and partners to get an idea of their opinions on every element of your business model. Product features, pricing, distribution channels, and affordable customer acquisition strategies should all be included in the questioning.
3 – Adopt Agile Development
Finally, according to Steve Blank, lean methodology recommends that companies practice something called agile development. This step works hand in hand with customer development. Using this practice, there is no loss of time or resources because your product is developed iteratively and incrementally.
Here, on our blog, we’ve discussed a number of these practices, and many of them are simple to implement. Take Kanban, for example. In this method, people typically use sticky-notes on a whiteboard to facilitate the visualization of the progress of production flows in companies in an economical way (follow this link to learn more about Runnun.it’s intelligent kanban, the RR-Board®).
Growth hacking is another such practice. Growth hacking involves rapid experimentation in areas such as marketing, product development, sales, and others to identify the most efficient manner to develop a business. The concept, which has gone from being a buzzword to one of the today’s most celebrated marketing models, can make a difference when you are implementing the lean methodology.
A tool for streamlining your operations
Runrun.it can be an incredibly powerful tool for helping to implement the lean methodology. With it, you can set and organize priorities for each employee, thereby avoiding any excesses and confusion about who is supposed to be doing what.
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