Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

The title of this piece is, of course, a well-worn quote that has been re-used in various contexts for almost a thousand years. It certainly counts for Lean IT, where we stand on the shoulders of people like Taiichi Ohno, Shigeo Shingo and J. Edwards Deming. When we started the Lean IT Association, our aim was to bring together people who wish to improve the value of IT to its customers. Creating a common ‘body of knowledge’ is about making a standard that forms the baseline for further improvement.

Since we started using Lean principles within IT, I have on many occasions been asked what the difference is between Lean IT and other types of Lean. Over the years, this has resulted in discussions about principles, tools, ways of working and other such aspects of working with Lean. Each time the commonalities were emphasized leading to the question: why do we need Lean IT at all?

Over the past decade, it has become clear to me that the context in which Lean principles are applied has a substantial impact on the way in which people work with Lean. We have seen the emergence of Lean Healthcare and Lean Services, and what was generically called Lean is now specified as Lean Manufacturing.

What makes Lean different within IT? IT has its own contextual characteristics. It is an – almost – invisible supporter of primary business processes, to the extent that it has in many cases become the primary business process. As a result, an IT organization has a very wide range of customers all requiring different types of value. It is a business within a business, often having its own dedicated finance, sourcing and human resources on top of the specific nature of the IT ‘production’. Regarding production, we see that the average IT associate is confronted with a multitude of units of work, incidents, problems, standard changes, non-standard changes, advice, operational activities on a daily basis. On top of this, these units of work are just the tip of the iceberg of the language of IT.

To navigate this minefield and to ensure the Lean IT body of knowledge develops in a way that helps IT professionals and organizations to apply Lean principles within IT, the Lean IT Association has assembled an international team of ‘giants’ in the field of Lean IT. Mike Orzen, Reni Friis, Troy DuMoulin and Jon Terry are highly experienced professionals, authors, presenters and practitioners of Lean IT. Our aim, as the LITA Content Board, is to guide the development of the Lean IT body of knowledge.

To do this, we particularly look to you – the Lean IT community – for inspiration, ideas, suggestions, recommendations and experiences to help improve the standard. On behalf of my fellow members of the LITA Content Board, do not hesitate to contact us to share your thoughts.

About Niels Loader, Content Board Lead, Lean IT Association

Niels Loader, Partner and Principal Consultant at Quint Wellington Redwood.
Niels has been working in the world of IT for the best of 25 years. He has helped many, many IT organizations of all sizes to improve. Starting as an ITSM process consultant, Niels focused on improving the performance of IT organizations. He has been closely involved with the development of Lean IT. He is also a key member of the DASA advisory board and is a member of the team creating the DASA competence model and curriculum.

Quint Wellington Redwood on Lean IT Leadership

Lean IT Leadership is a principle-based approach to ensure that IT people, IT processes and information technology work in harmony to create long-term value for the users of IT services. In this paper, we want to show how the development of Lean IT Leadership contributes to the successful application of Lean IT principles and techniques. We will describe the four steps that need to be taken to develop into a Lean leader and we will discuss the four most important tools that can be used in this transformation.

Here’s an interesting White Paper on Lean Leadership