What is Lean3?
Part 1 of 5 : 3rd Generation Project Management
Lean3 is a new way of thinking about Project Management. It is a pathway to 3rd generation Project Management.
Inspired by modern manufacturing
Lean3 is inspired by the world of manufacturing. Lean Manufacturing was transformational, delivering huge increases in product quality and factory productivity.
If Lean transformed manufacturing, then Project Management needs the same transformation. Lean3 starts this transformation. It sets out a vision of a Project Factory, adding ideas from Lean into Project Management.
Three generations of Manufacturing
In the world of the factory, Lean was a major change, a generational change. From the 1950s onwards, Lean Manufacturing replaced Mass Production.
There were three generations of manufacturing:
- 1st Generation Manufacturing: Craft production (e.g. Weavers, Cabinet Makers, Smiths )
- 2nd Generation Manufacturing: Mass production (pioneered by Henry Ford in 1910)
- 3rd Generation Manufacturing: Lean Manufacturing (pioneered by Toyota in 1950s)
We need the same generational change in Project Management.
Two generations of Project Management
There have been two generations of Project Management. Lean3 introduces 3rd Generation Project Management
- 1st Generation Project Management: Based on craft know-how (e.g. Pyramids, Cathedrals, Canals)
- 2nd Generation Project Management: Monolithic Best Practice such as PMBoK and Prince2
- 3rd Generation Project Management: Shared libraries of reusable best practice
Methods like PMBoK and Prince2 were useful in their time. But success has brought complacency. They are no longer state of the art. We need change.
Agile is not the answer
Agile has been innovative. Agile was born out of a rejection of the old ways of working. But it is not 3rd generation Project Management, as Agile has never really been about Projects. It is about products not projects. The roots of Agile are in software development; how to develop and maintain a software product. It has not strayed too far from its roots.
Furthermore, Agile has sown considerable confusion in Project Management. Agile has been used to manage projects (rather than products), and has often disappointed. And Agile has spread both anti-project and anti-management sentiment.
Lean3 is about Projects and Project Management. Projects are a proven way to deliver change. Lean3 embraces Project Management, whereas many people in Agile reject Project Management.