The word "lean" is totally overloaded with meaning in the general business community. Confusion is unavoidable, especially becasue it has become a 'fashionable' word, and lots of people use it for ... almost anything. When used 'correctly', depending on the context, I find it commonly means:
I don't know what Lean Manufacturing 'stands opposed to'. Tongue in cheek answer, General Motors perhaps? OK, I'm sure there are several methodologies for manufacturing plants, but I don't know them.
The Lean Startup methodology mostly stands opposed to ... nothing. Before Lean Startup there really was no systematic body of theories and practices for building early-stage companies in an unknown market. That's why I think Lean Startup is so uniquely valuable, it affords a shared set of practices and KPI's to build a early-stage company by, where historically there has been only anecdotal evidence and guesses.
the opposite of "Agile" is "Waterfall." What's the opposite of "Lean?"Ehmn, "Waterfall" actually. AFAIK "Lean Manufacturing" and "Lean Startup" have only one essential element in common; they have an iterative element in them.
"Lean Manufacturing" stresses ongoing, incremental improvement in simplification and waste reduction. "Lean Startup" talks about iterations within each of its 4 phases -- not the same as sprints in SCRUM; but something very compatible with an Agile (SCRUM, XP) software development methodology.
But "Lean" should hopefully not become corporate-speak for "iterative". That would be a shame and quite confusing.
The US federal Government :-)
I think "Bloat" sums it up pretty good. Bloated process. Bloated management. Bloated bureaucracy. Bloated products.
As for the "Lean Startup", I think that's kind of an oxymoron. All startups need to be lean since burn rate is critical to manage in order to do a successful launch.
I suspect that it is the vilification and up-ending of the MBA-type organization. I don't really think it is anything new - just a new name on something some people have been doing. I don't know enough about Eric's position or the definition of "lean" in this context.
I doubt "lean" is going to make many inroads in fortune 500 companies, but effective small groups and organizations have always found ways to succeed in doing things efficiently.
Jason, given your penchant for the hot new buzzword - we can perhaps fairly say this is the "new paradigm". (Or the one that sells business books and seats at conferences anyway :-) )
To me, 'fat' is quite descriptive. :-)
As always, there are multiple paths one can choose to reach a destination.
Is a swim suit the opposite of a parka jacket? I'd say - Pick the one that best suits your environment.
I think one needs to understand what "lean" is before attempting to define what it isn't.
Here's a good NY Times article describing lean startups.
While a significant amount of research and progress has been made to streamline the application development process (Scrum, Crystal Clear, XP, Agle et al), very little has been done to research and evaluate the patterns used by startups to define product / customer development.
Lean startup advocates utilize agile development advances but approach "activities outside the building" - sales, marketing, business development - utilizing a similar iterative process. It calls this "Customer Development" vs "Product Development", since startups don't fail because they lack a product; they fail because they lack customers and a profitable business model.
The problem with "Product Development" planning lies in the fact that "old school" product development models were applicable to pre-existing companies doing product extensions to a known customer base -- completely out of tune with what startups experience.
A good series of articles to read can be found here.
I would sum up that the lean startup model "Attempts to combine software development and customer development as a collaborative, iterative process to allow organizations to quickly validate and align their efforts to maximize their profit potential."
Whatever it is, the rebellion will soon be crushed and young Skywalker will be one of us.
I think that making some examples of non-Lean start-ups could shed light on the dichotomy.
Does anyone have any examples?
Lean = measured, cautious, judicious, pragmatic, and maybe even pesimistic
Perhaps opposites include cavalier, extravagant, overkill, victim, optimistic (the flavor that says 'don't worry, it'll work out... (since everything is already provisionally complete).