We sometimes think that Lean & Agile is all about scaling back, in a context of removing “stuff” or unnecessary processes. However using Lean and Agile can help us grow. The leaner we are, the faster we can react to the market place, not just in terms of change, but in terms of growth. Industries such as digital tech, online food retail, takeaways, insurance, banking have increased significantly during the recent crisis.
This period of reflection has given us all the huge opportunity to re-assess our businesses. From my own perspective, I have reappraised some of my digital processes, marketing software in a way that let’s me do more for less. The clear benefit means being able to reach out to more and varying customers. Mine is just one small business, but if we consider that the UK is made up 0f 80% SME’s. If every business in this category is improving their processes and agility, by just 10%, this is going to have a huge positive impact on the economy and GDP growth at a time, when the GDP growth fell by 20% in April due to the pandemic. The old adage “Invest in a Downturn” holds true. My forward thinking clients are looking at capital investment for equipment where required and means of leaning out their manufacturing processes. This is being driven not just by reducing inventory and fixed cost, but being more agile as a means of growth. As businesses start to “Pivot”, change platforms, move over to digital and explore different areas, then agility becomes more critical.
So in this context, what does agile actually mean? For scaling, agile means having internal processes and systems that allow you react quickly as a means of doing more meaningful work in less time. I follow the mantra of “Your customer only wants to pay for the tangible pieces of work or products that actually deliver them value” As an example a farmer won’t be interested in the manufacturing process or packaging for a tractor oil filter, just the price, quality and longevity of the filter. One way of helping leaders adopt this mantra is to critically analyze the time spent on VA (Value Adding) activity vs. NVA (Non Value Adding) activity. By eliminating the NVA you can release internal capacity, enabling scope for growth. One way of having some deeper understanding of this approach is to download our DILO tool for VA. Other processes that can be considered as NVA are any paperwork or admin process that are too long, unnecessarily complex or repetitive. Digitizing these processes will also have a huge impact. Businesses that will do well coming out of the crisis are changing their processes, and pivoting their business models by being both lean and agile. Lean and agile maybe considered as two different concepts, but they are symbiotic. They act as both enablers and accelerators.