You Say Swarming, I Say Agile

Pat Waara, Software Design for Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt

Social media, millennials, and analysts are examining the changing nature of work and how organizations will need to adapt. Recently, Gartner predicted the 10 changes for the work world by 2020. Some of these predictions may not happen for some time or may never happen at all, but others sound similar to currently used Lean Six Sigma methodologies. One example, cited by Gartner as a tactic on the rise, is a practice known as swarming – a work style characterized by a flurry of collaboration by all workers available  that add value to a situation.

This is much like Agile methods, which rely on transparency, inspection, and adaption and encourages teams to collaborate in real-time. The methods attempt to provide many opportunities to assess the direction of a project throughout its development lifecycle by being adaptive rather than predictive. Agile methods also assert that the role of a process is to support the development team in their work by being people-oriented rather than process-oriented.

Xerox leveraged the Agile Scrum process – a light-weight project management methodology – during the recent development and launch of the WorkCentre® 7545 and WorkCentre 7556. By utilizing Scrum’s iterative planning and retrospective events, the WorkCentre team was able to:

  • Identify and obtain all resources necessary to launch the product on time.
  • Balance the workload of team members who were juggling other projects.
  • Enable problem solving success in a team of people who had never worked together before.

Whether you call it swarming or Agile, Xerox is achieving its goals by implementing this seemingly futuristic form of real-time collaboration. As the practice becomes more sophisticated and builds on ability to create competitive advantages for companies, it just may do exactly what Gartner predicts and become one of the top business practices by 2020.

Take a look at the full list of Gartner’s predictions. Do any other tactics sound similar to those already used within the Lean Six Sigma community? Could it be that Lean Six Sigma is paving the way for the latest trends in business practices? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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One Comment

  1. Paul Godley August 13, 2011 - Reply

    Nice read! Thanks

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