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Aces Up Sleeves, Fixed Dice and Wonky Tables: But, Is There A Cheat For Lean?

Do you have that friend who is unbelievably good at every game you play; maybe they’re a whizz at maths, and can gather, using probability that everyone else at the table, probably has yellow cards left during Uno, because that suit has been played the least. Or, maybe they have paid extensions on their games to have better stats in online fighting games. Maybe they’re just fiercely competitive and practice Mario Kart on the daily.

Or, alternatively, they’re a big fat cheater. After all, how do they always win Monopoly?

Maybe your friend is a whizz, but if they are a rotten cheat, or you’re a sore loser, there are some things you can do outside of gaming that don’t have the room for cheaters to worm their way in. A prime example of this is lean practice.

During a November 2020 interview with Mark Graban’s podcast, Lean Blog Interviews, husband and wife duo, Mary and Tom Poppendieck discussed the nature of lean through the lens of software development.

During the podcast, when the pair were asked to explain the nature of lean practice, Mary had the following to say: “Lean is never about “this is how you have to do things”, lean is about respecting front-line people, teaching them how to solve problems, focussing on end-to-end customer solution as fast as you can, that’s lean”, meaning lean relates moreso to the idea of creative problem solving. And, no, I don’t mean like holding several £100s under the Monopoly board. Creative problem solving does not equate to cheating. Although, hiding several £100s under the Monopoly board is certainly my method of choice.

No, lean project management is, as Mary Poppendieck explained”about respecting front-line people” and, “teaching them how to solve problems”. This means that, instead of neglecting to listen to the voices of your colleagues because they are beneath you, you have to make the effort to give them the time of day. You never know what ideas they may be withholding out of fear of the consequences of speaking up.

Quick turnarounds are essential in business, but, quality product production is significantly better. Listening to the employees working on the front lines, directly in creating the newest innovation in your company name, means that you have to acknowledge that in this realm of the corporate world, their experience has weight, and ought to be appreciated as if they were executives above you. You must value the thoughts and insights of those who create products, lest something go wrong, especially if it was to be preventable.

Many will have seen the viral video of the dancing fairy doll on Christmas morning that was propelled into the air, and flew around the living room, only to land directly in the fireplace and act as kindling, to the horror of the little girl and her family who had been enjoying it. Funny as this video may be in hindsight, this was likely a perceived problem with the doll in production, to the point it was likely on the packaging. Something along the lines of “do not use near an open flame”.

And, I am sure many in the toy field, made a note to inform managers that similar toys in production would require the same warning.

Teaching people to be aware, to explore and analyse the world around them and how it may relate to a product or service is no side-quest. This is the point of playing the game that is business management. Lean practice, although it is not a cheat code, is certainly something that can help your business level-up.

Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (, is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.

He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.

The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.

To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address:

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