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Agile vs Lean

Vishwadeep Khatri

Message added by Mayank Gupta,

Agile is an iterative and incremental software development methodology where requirements, development and testing happens concurrently. Requirements and solutions are developed in collaboration with the customers / end users and cross functional teams which are then developed and ready for deployment at defined intervals of time.


Lean is an ever evolving philosophy based on proven principles and practices aimed at the elimination of waste (improving efficiency) with the objective of making every step, task, & activity create value for the customers. Lean is a continuing process of change involving everyone in the organization. Lean principles originated at Toyota.

An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Mohamed Asif on 25th Oct 2021.


Applause for all the respondents - Mohamed Asif, Amit Kumar, Manas Mohapatra, Johanan Collins.


Q 412. Agile seems to be inspired by Lean Management. What are the key differences between Agile and Lean? 


Note for website visitors - Two questions are asked every week on this platform. One on Tuesday and the other on Friday.

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Both Lean and Agile methodologies are flexible and focuses on continuous improvement and share common goals and principles, however the workflow is more iterative in agile


Key differences with regards to both the methodology is that, Lean focuses on maximizing the efficiencies whereas, agile is more of maximizing the effectiveness


Another paramount difference is flexibility. Lean is not that flexible when is comes to dynamic deliverable changes. However, dynamic requirement changes are effortless in Agile

Few difference in various toolkits used is listed below.

Lean Management - Daily Huddle meeting, VSM, RCPS, 5S, Visual Management

Agile - Daily Stand up, Backlog, Sprints


Lean methodology delivers Value; Agile delivers Working Product (wherein, small batch size is preferred to deliver rapidly)


Even though there are considerable difference between Lean and Agile, both methodologies complements each other in most of the working situations and some of the commonalities including Improving Quality, Amplifying learning, Continuously improving and empowering people makes both approach collaborative.  


Choosing one over other is not pivotal as exploring what principles better suits the working model in the organization and incorporating them in the software development process matters.  


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Lean: Lean originated from Toyota & focus mainly to deliver better customer value through continuous improvement with respect to products and processes both.


Agile- Agile is majorly used in Software development lifecycle. It aims to  build software as quickly as possible by dividing the total project in small parts & have daily governance around that. 


The major difference between Lean & Agile are listed below. 

Sl  Lean Agile
1 Lean Started in 1940 Agile started in 1990
2 Lean can be used in any industry Agile major use is in Software Development industry
3 Lean talks about the optimization of production process Agile methodology talks about the optimization of development process
4 Lean can be applied all cross process within a company Agile Applies within a team
5 Lean applies to repetitive processes to improve Agile focuses on making a new product in a better way


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Agile Vs LEAN:

Both Agile and Lean are flexible, quick and end-user-focused viewpoints which help teams to develop and produce high-quality products and services quickly maintaining the sustainability. Both the methods have the goal to provide customers a high-quality product rapidly, one iteration at a time.

Only having a better understanding of both Agile and Lean can ensure that teams adopt the principles and accompanying practices of their selected methodology fully to establish a concrete foundation for implementing a mature Agile or Lean model. This is possible once it is accomplished across teams. Organizations can consider a more advanced hybrid scaled Agile and Lean approach allow them to enjoy the sensible and cultural benefits of the two methodologies. Let’s understand the differences between them.

which will

1.      The first difference is that the Agile methodology focus on the optimization of a development process, the Lean method concerns the optimization of a production process.

2.      The Agile methodology is applied within a team. The Lean methodology is usually applied to enhance processes altogether organizations

3.      Agile is about helping companies build better products. Lean is about improving the production process to achieve the good quality of the product as the intended outcome.

4.      Agile focuses less on the process, and more on the process to make a better product. Lean is usually applied to a repetitive, predictable process, and aims to enhance

the method so as to form a far better product

5.      The Agile life cycle contains six phases, whereas the Lean life cycle includes seven principles


6.      Agile is all about individuals and interactions, Lean is all about eliminating the waste


7.      In Agile, dynamic requirement changes are effortless. Lean is not that much flexible for dynamic deliverable changes.


Example for point 7: In Agile, change management process is available and easy where in-between we can add the customer requirement where in Lean management process, once we are done with the process designing, adding the customer requirement is difficult.



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Difference between Agile and Lean
While Agile and Lean are sometimes thought of to be similar, they are different in their very approach.
Agile had got more to do with Project Management in an environment of quick change and technology. It is generally used in software development, due to the quick improvement in hardware technology such as processor speeds, storage, etc, the software improvements automatically piggyback on this change. Due to this change, the End Users' requirements and expectations change. Using erstwhile methods of project management have failed in this fast-changing environment. The Agile methodology of project management is better suited for quick change, chaos, and uncertainty. Agile is developed using frameworks like Scrum or Kanban.
Lean has got more to do with a process that may either be in the field of manufacturing or service. Lean looks at the removal of waste in the process and delivers increased value. Use of management principles and processes are used in Lean. Lean is used to improve the quality or the speed of delivery of the product. It has seven principles and aims at changing the flow of the process from batch to flow or also reducing the size of the batch.

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