Lean vs Agile Marketing: What is the difference?

A lot of marketers believed and claimed that Lean Marketing is Agile Marketing.

In fact, this is often not the case.

Certainly, Lean and Agile has their own similarities, but they are not under the same category.

Don’t get me wrong, this has been a misunderstanding in the software development world.

Even till now, everyone are talking about using Lean and Agile together to solve certain problems!  Scrumban is a great example of hybrid framework that combines lean and agile together.

Anyway, in this article, I have summarised into 3 main points to explain the difference between lean and agile marketing.

Push vs. Pull System

The difference between push and pull system is very important since it impacts how a marketing team works together and an organisation’s business model. Therefore, it really depends on the situations and may not work perfectly well at all times.

The main reason that Scrum is considered as a “pull” system because it has a sprint planning meeting. During the meeting, team members will gather up and put items into the sprint backlog by adhering two main factors:

  • Story items based on business priority
  • Estimated capacity of a team

At the end of the meeting, the team will conclude with a fixed backlog item which consists of user stories. This is considered as a “pull” action since we pull the work into a product backlog and before a sprint starts.

On the other hand, Kanban is a “push” system since it does not require any planning at all. Work items (e.g. user stories) are pushed down the pipeline based on the emergent business needs. WIP limit is used to control the maximum number of work items in different stages of the workflow.

The main benefit of it is to avoid bottlenecks in team workflow and enable the team to focus on the work they are doing.

Process focus vs. People-oriented

The lean methodology was first found by the Toyota production system, it was originally used in manufacturing purposes. It is focused heavily on creating values through processes and systems. Lean often focus on eliminating wastes and reducing costs through continuous learning and improvements.

If you look closely with the tools provided by 32 tools provided by Lean Manufacturing, most of them are focused on improving the systems and processes. 

No doubt, Lean methodology still applies and fits well in certain situations.

Agile is definitely designed for people in the first place. Let’s have a look at the 12 principles defined in agile software development (Yes, let’s go back to the origin).

  1. Customer satisfaction by early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even in late development.
  3. Deliver working software frequently (weeks rather than months)
  4. Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers
  5. Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
  6. A face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress
  8. Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
  10. Simplicity—the art of maximising the amount of work not done—is essential
  11. Best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from organising teams
  12. Regularly, the team reflects on how to become more effective and adjusts accordingly

Have a quick guess, how many points are actually referring to people?

The answer is, point 1, 4, 5, 6, 8, 11, and 12.

I have also highlighted a few keywords that are actually referring to people.

Hope that makes sense!

Final Thoughts

Although agile and lean are very popular in software development, and even in marketing world now. It is always important to identify which methodology works better at different context or situations.

In summary, here are the key items I have discussed in this article:

  1. Push vs. Pull System – What is your business model or management style?
  2. Process vs. People Oriented – What is your company culture?
  3. Certainty vs. Uncertainty – How type of projects or work you are doing?

I hope you enjoy reading it.

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