Forrester's Business Technology Forum Recap #BTF09

Scott Francis
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The BTF09 Event can be summarized in one word, literally:  LEAN. I have to hand it to Forrester, someone decided Lean was the message of the day, and they have delivered that message consistently.  You can find the feed on Twitter here.  To  make it easier, use this link instead to see the lean references along with #BTF09. A quick review of Sandy Kemsley’s write-ups of sessions yields the following topics that refer to Lean: There was even a UX design session where the presenter made the argument that UX design is “Lean”. Someone should have tweeted that all this tweeting isn’t very “Lean”…   And I guess no one had the discussion about whether attending a conference is “Lean”… Which is precisely why we shouldn’t try to apply the word “Lean” as Good and “not-Lean” as Bad.  Not everything we do that has value is “Lean” – something I am acutely aware of having had to read “Pigeon Wants a Puppy” to my daughter twice the other night.  It wasn’t Lean, but it had a lot of value! There is a sense from reading all the traffic on twitter and blog posts that Lean is good and Not-Lean is bad.  Honestly, I don’t care if “SalesForce” (insert favorite SaaS product) is Lean, but I do care if my “Sales Process” is Lean.  And even more than that, I care if it produces reliable revenue streams at reliable cost outlays. I don’t care if a COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) Software package is lean vs. custom-coding being lean – I want the solution that solves my business problem with minimal cost and maximum fit for purpose, and I care that the processes that require this software solution continue to operate “efficiently”.  More simply – whether my car was constructed in a Lean fashion or not, how I use a vehicle in my business may prove to be Lean (or not).  The car at the point that I care about it, is already a finished product and I take it or leave it largely as-is. To the extent that the point of Lean is to eliminate waste, you can almost characterize anything that eliminates waste as Lean – but that misses the point of using Lean as a process improvement method.  And Let’s not forget that you’ll still need other tools in your utility belt – six sigma for identifying and eliminating defects and variance, software for maintaining a good solution over time, and leadership to get your project over the finish line in challenging times. Taking a step back, we have to remember that Lean is a means to an end, not the End itself.