Agile / Lean / Waterfall in the same Project – Is that possible?

I was asked recently:

“Do you believe Agile and Lean methods can be used along side traditional waterfall in the same project ?”

I quickly answered,

“YES I do – and I’ve done it with amazing results”

Agile methodology evangelists often find it difficult to obtain management support.  

They are often seen as trying to implement dramatic changes.  Or trying to fix something that is not broken.   Agile requires that developers, managers and users alike must change the way they work and think – when I’ve found that people resist change – especially change that they don’t understand.

XP practices is an example of this:  where pair programming, test-first design, continuous integration, and an on-site customer can seem like almost impossible changes to implement.

So is there another way to become Agile?

When I kept hitting this resistance to change, I started leveraging Lean Practices and Principles along side traditional ones – and very quickly was able to show my clients how they could keep doing what they have been and make small changes that moved them in the direction of meeting their desired goal of delivering solutions (=value) to their customers more quickly.

IT infrastructure projects are great for levering this lean way of thinking.   Since IT projects are typically chraterized by a set of steps that must be taken to implement a solution.  And many times those steps are repeated over and over again to take an IT solution enterprise wide.  Why not take those steps and apply lean thinking to them?   We did.

Because lean principals and practices are so logical to doing projects

…most of the teams didn’t even see us as doing anything different from what they were used to doing.  We were applying lean thinking and making the delivery of the solution faster and more predictable (I’ll have to share those case study details another time) .

Management recognized the project teams were taking more of an initiative and a problem-solving attitude.  And acknowledged the teams were more productive and delivering value more predictably.  And the teams were proud to take the recognition.  And they were was getting all the results they wanted that the multitudes of process being added to the teams was not giving them.

A Project Manager can increase their value to their employers and clients by learning how to apply lean practices and principals

…and start incorporating them into their traditional projects.   You can even start by applying them to your personal life.  You’ll be amazed at how much more things you get done, and keep your focus on the most important stuff  !!!

To learn more about Lean / Kanban, check out the following FREE videos and recordings of teachings: