Team Building

The Difference Between Lean & Agile

In this day and age, we are all about speed. We want our food quick; we want products that make our lives faster and easier, and we want our businesses to move quickly. Because, when everyone else is moving quick, you need to move quicker. In a world of quick, you need methods that promote quick in every step of the process; thus has come the lean and agile development movements to help us move, well, quick. So we want to move quick, but what is agile development and lean development? What do they promote? How are they different?

Agile development is a methodology built for software development, but can be used for many differing types of development. Introduced to mainstream business culture in 2001 by the Agile Manifesto, although it truly began in 1957 with incremental software development. The process promotes efficiency and flexibility through incremental building and testing. It promotes efficiency through self motivation, as well as team interaction over team reporting.

Here are the four main points from the Agile Manifesto:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Agile Principles (taken from the

  • Highest priority is customer satisfaction
  • Welcome changing requirements
  • Frequent delivery of software
  • Business people & developers cooperating daily
  • Build projects around motivated people
  • Face-to-face conversation is best
  • Progress measured by working software
  • Sustainable development pace
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence
  • Simplicity
  • Self-organizing teams
  • Regular reflection & adaptation



Like agile development, the 'Lean Movement' focuses on quick adaptation and iteration to promote efficiency. 'Lean' is a production process which began in manufacturing. Often associated with Toyota, Lean principles come from the Japanese manufacturing industry. The term was first by coined by John Krafcik in his 1988 article, "Triumph of the Lean Production System" (Wikipedia 'Lean Manufacturing').

Lean Principles (taken from the

  • Eliminate Waste
  • Build Quality In
  • Create Knowledge
  • Defer Commitment
  • Deliver Fast
  • Respect People
  • Optimize the Whole 

Overall, both methodologies focus on speed, efficiency and flexibility. Although, mainly used in software development, yup, we at Salespod[Now Repsly] use it; it can be applied to almost any development technique, whether it be operations, marketing, sales techniques, and beyond.

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Jenna Hannon

Jenna Hannon is a Canadian born technology marketer and writer living in Silicon Valley. She is currently Strategic Communications at Fanhattan, advisor at Treasure Data. Jenna is also an adrenaline junkie; as a kiteboarder, skateboarder, snowboarder and surfer.

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