Design thinking, lean (six sigma), lean startup and scrum

More and more companies are using proven methods to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their business operations. Four methods that are regularly used are design thinking, lean (six sigma), lean startup and scrum. Anniek Neyt, operational excellence expert at HillFive, takes us through the four methods and explains how they can be applied.

The methods design thinking, lean (six sigma), lean start-up and scrum are all aimed at performance improvement in a company’s organization and processes.

Lean is about minimizing waste and has its origins in the industrial sector. Scrum is a method within the agile world, which originates from the software domain, but is today used in all segments. Design thinking has become big in the innovation world within product engineering and is used today in all kinds of innovations.

Each of the four methods has a different scope:

design thinking:
Design thinking is the best method to solve complex problems in a user-friendly way and to find new innovative ideas from a different perspective.

Lean (six sigma):
Lean six sigma is a way to reduce waste in the process and is the best method for optimizing existing processes.

Lean startup:
With the lean start-up method, the goal is to develop valid business models by testing hypotheses and ideas.

Agile is a framework that ensures rapid development of new products and functions. Agile is best used for continuous product development.

When do you use which method?

Any method solves problems, but the question is: what kind of problem is it? If it is a quality/process-driven problem, then lean is particularly suitable. If it is a development/efficiency driven problem, then agile is a good framework to improve this.

If it is a user problem, or if you want to solve the problem innovatively, then design thinking is the method. If you want to introduce a new concept, you use lean startup to prevent the concept from failing.

When do you use what

Here are a few examples to get a better idea:

If customer demand is to reduce the amount of failed production, lean can be used to optimize the process. Can a customer often not achieve their project goals because there are many different projects in progress and there is no overview? Then we introduce an agile way of working.

If a customer encounters a complex problem where lean has already been used and there is a good agile working method, then design thinking is a suitable way to find the actual problem and come up with solutions.

After all, there may be an underlying problem that the users/practitioners in the process run into. If there is a new concept, but the customer does not know how to succeed, the lean start-up business model canvas can be used.

Which method fits into a process?

Another way to explain the differences in the methods is to look at the development and thus the maturity of a product. Industries create products. Before entering the market, they go through a process – from concept and business model, to a product that is produced in a process.

In general, you can specify per phase which method is most suitable. To develop a concept, you want to solve the right problem. To be able to do this, you must have knowledge of the user (design thinking).

Different methods

In addition, by thinking outside the box as much as possible, you will develop ideas for products to solve this problem (design thinking). To make this concept concrete, you can use a business model canvas design (lean startup tool).

The chosen idea will then be developed – starting from a ‘minimum viable product’ to a ‘final product’ (agile). This final product is implemented and a process is set up. Lean is used to make this process as efficient as possible.

In summary, all methods have a different focus. One method need not exclude the other. In fact, they can complement and complement each other very well.

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