This paper was first published in the site. Its revision was presented for publication December 9 2018.
Published here February 2019

Introduction | 1. Building Trust Within Your Team 
2. Engaging Your Stakeholders to Get Them What They Really Need
3. Making Project Risk Management an Organic Exercise
4. Understanding the Environment | 5. Applying LEAN Principles | Understanding the Basics

5. Applying LEAN Principles

Figure 5
Figure 5

Top PMs know that the journey matters as much as the goal. At times, the project journey is made especially cumbersome by a process that defines how things should be done. This could take the form of unnecessarily heavy templates, pointless meetings, or distracting peripheral issues that hinder the journey. Nevertheless, it is your responsibility as PM to make sure these hindrances impact your team as little as possible.

Top PMs should identify more efficient and effective processes for the team, drawing from agile project management principles, well defined in LEAN methodology.

A popular misconception is that LEAN is suited only for manufacturing, which is simply not true. LEAN project management methods can enhance every project and every process. It is not just a cost reduction program, but rather a way of thinking and acting by your team.

a quote from the CEO of Toyota, Katsuaki Watanabe, summarizes well the benefits of applying LEAN principles. He says:

"Brilliant process management is our strategy. We get brilliant results from average people managing brilliant processes. We observe that our competitors often get average (or worse) results from brilliant people managing broken processes."

A Top PM with a bias for eliminating unnecessary project noise and work will naturally drive the process toward LEAN principles. A Top PM should work tightly with a Product Owner, their team and relevant stakeholders to help them streamline and specify their needs and the expected value as a response to those needs.

It is also useful to look beyond LEAN for borrowing the best PM practices for your project. For example, only PRINCE2 methodology includes an obligatory task of reviewing all the lessons learned from previous projects during a project's startup phase. This is obviously better than writing another document at the end of the project that will seldom get used by others when initiating a new one. It's always important not to be afraid of changing processes to eliminate any unnecessary steps. Instead, focus on the ones that add real value.

In fact, this is a good opportunity, to review and reshape processes, or to help the team pick the right ones from the start. These clear performance indicators should be shared transparently with all involved to define a clear guide towards project success.

Key takeaway: "Finding the right solutions is as important as having a correct streamlined process for delivering those solutions."

4. Understanding the Environment  4. Understanding the Environment

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