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Agile and Lean Six Sigma: Comparison and Alignment

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Agile and Lean Six Sigma: Comparison and Alignment

Agile and Lean Six Sigma have their differences but they are not entirely contradictory to each other. Explore the differences and similarities between the two.

· Agile Zone ·
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Agile works towards managing projects in an improved manner and Lean Six Sigma focuses on improving processes. If one follows both the methodologies to word, they may pull one in entirely different directions. However, once you dive deep into the two frameworks, you can find a significant level of alignment between the two.

Each of the two contributes significantly to business. Still, they might be combined to deliver even better results in terms of team collaboration, project speed-to-market, quality, and customer satisfaction.

Basics of Agile 

Agile found its inception in the software development spectrum, in an attempt to break from the traditional development models. The objective was to put more emphasis on speed and quality. The main idea behind Agile has been identified in the form of Agile manifesto:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software in place of comprehensive documents
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to changes over following a Plan

Basics of Lean Six Sigma 

Lean Six Sigma is a combination of Lean and Six Sigma. Lean pays emphasis on the identification and removal of wastes, and Six Sigma works towards reducing variations in a system. Born in the manufacturing sector, Lean Six Sigma found popularity in almost all the industries. While Lean Six Sigma includes many approaches, the most utilized one is DMAIC.

Major Differences 

agile vs lean image

Agile and Lean Six Sigma can easily be differentiated on the following grounds:

1. Alignment

While Lean Six Sigma is aligned to the idea of removal of wastes and variations, Agile is more aligned to providing value to the end-users.

2. Delivery

The end objective of Agile is to deliver working software. Lean Six Sigma aims at providing value. This means that it tries to eliminate any step in a process that does not add value.

3. Challenges 

The significant challenge for agile comes when practitioners start using “Agile-as-religion.” This is a condition when practitioners refuse to implement agile in a partial format. The main idea of agile is to become flexible in the whole process of project management and, at times, may require making changes to the designated agile methods. If the practitioners fail to do so, they might not derive utility out of Agile.

Lean faces challenges when the principles are applied without considering if the principle is yielding results or taking a toll on the overall experience.

Collaboration

lean and agile, two hands shaking

While the two frameworks have their differences, they can be combined to complement each other. For example, Agile permits teams to deliver high-quality work quickly. However, they do lack a bird’s eye view of the entire situation. This is where Lean Six Sigma strategies can help. LSS can assist in solving critical problems by using tools and phases based on the bird's eye’s view of the situation.

That is not all. On closer inspection, one would identify that lean is a significant base for Agile. Both share the idea of removing unnecessary entities while providing value. Lean, by removing variations and Agile by giving importance to delivering working products aim at providing product or service faster. Agile also makes use of Lean principles like iterative development approach, and short feedback loop.

Organizations often fail because they tend to find answers to all their problems with a single framework. Organizations that do find success combine various frameworks. They are never limited to just one framework and pay attention to the principles behind the framework rather than practices. Such organizations often identify these frameworks as tools to supplement business rather than recognizing them as programs that are imposed on their business.

There is no denying the fact that what organizations need to do is to compliment various frameworks like Agile and Lean Six Sigma, and scores of organizations are doing it already. Such organizations are always on a lookout for professionals who are experts in these frameworks. You can make use of this situation by getting established as an expert in either of the domains.

Topics:
six sigma

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