Win the War Not the Battle a Pocket Guide to Lean

The title of this page comes from a note that I made during a recent lecture I attended by Allan Shalloway at the Puget Sound PMI.  The four main tenants of Lean Project Management, according to Shalloway are:

  1. Focus on Systems to reduce errors
  2. Work to the team capacity
  3. Limit work in progress
  4. Be concerned with Time and not resource utilisation

It is the fourth item in this list which has gotten me thinking.  The expansion of the bullet point goes on to explain that you should be concerned with the time for the whole process, not the time it takes to do individuals tasks.  The problems occur not within processes (work activities) but between, before, and after the activities – the ‘production’ line.

As a manager of projects I am often worried about whether my team is spending their time productively on their assigned tasks.  This notelet is a reminder to myself that I need to take more conscious time to evaluate the whole process from a wider perspective.

Paul Osborn


  1. While kaizen (at Toyota) usaluly delivers small improvements, the culture of continual aligned small improvements and standardization yields large results in the form of compound productivity improvement. This philosophy differs from the command and control improvement programs of the mid-twentieth century. Kaizen methodology includes making changes and monitoring results, then adjusting. Large-scale pre-planning and extensive project scheduling are replaced by smaller experiments, which can be rapidly adapted as new improvements are suggested.

  2. Paul Osborn Says: January 17, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Perhaps – though my experience of adopting agile actually has seemed to follow a pattern of large process revamp, then the teams do exponentially smaller improvements while we settle into the new way of working…until we realize that we’ve painted ourselves into another corner so we do another revamp – our ‘cycles are about 18 months!

    I wrote this post a while ago (four years!) and I now realize that all four points are very pertinent to the latest revamp we are currently undergoing! There truly is nothing new under the sun.

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