A popular Scrum project management tool, lean helps organizations reduce product development cycles while enhancing their efficiency by actively eliminating waste. The principles of lean ultimately help businesses increase their value, profitability, and competitiveness.

What is Lean?

Lean is a methodology in Scrum project management that aims to eliminate waste - unnecessary parts of a process that do not add value. A process must go through lean multiple times to ensure no remaining waste is left behind. If done right, lean can significantly increase productivity and effectiveness while reducing cost, which is advantageous to the organization in the long run.

What are the 5 Lean Principles?

During Scrum project management, Lean seeks to reduce waste while maximizing value. In their book "The Machine That Changed the World," Womack and Jones outline the five principles of Lean manufacturing. These principles serve as a guide for improving workplace efficiency. They are:

1. Define Value

The monetary worth that a customer is willing to pay for something is called value. Understanding the needs of the customer is important to define the value. Organizations can conduct surveys, interviews, and more to uncover what their customers find valuable, the best way to deliver their products or services, and what is an affordable price point. 

2. Map the Value Stream

Businesses can create a map of the company's workflow from start to finish and evaluate the activities to determine whether they add value. Activities that do not add any value are considered waste. The waste can then be categorized as either necessary or unnecessary. Eliminating unnecessary waste and minimizing necessary waste will help businesses meet customer needs more efficiently while also reducing costs.

3. Create Flow 

The third principle of Lean is to establish a smooth flow while avoiding bottlenecks. Several strategies can be employed to ensure a seamless flow, such as establishing cross-functional departments, balancing the workload, breaking down steps, training employees to be multi-skilled, and more.

4. Establish Pull

During Scrum project management, a pull-based system aims to reduce inventory while ensuring the availability of necessary materials for a smooth workflow. The ultimate goal is to create products exactly when they are needed, in the required quantity, and delivered 'just in time.' It optimizes resource capacity and helps organizations ensure that the products they create will satisfy customers' needs while also reducing waste.

5. Pursue Perfection

It is the most important step that helps the team incorporate continuous process improvement and lean thinking as a crucial part of the organization's culture. It helps the business strive for perfection and get better day by day. 

How to Prepare Your Team for the Change

During Scrum project management, managers need to prepare the team for change before applying lean principles. It can be done by

  • Setting Clear Goals

Determine the end goal and communicate it to the rest of the team. A clearly defined goal helps motivate the team, develop the best method to achieve it and eliminate roadblocks that arise while striving for perfection.  

  • Adopting a Lean Mindset

After defining the desired goal, the next step is establishing a lean mindset within the Scrum project management team. Although convincing everyone can be a challenge, you can start by explaining the concept of Lean and the benefits of adopting it. 

The Lean process is all about producing good customer value by removing waste and creating a culture of shared leadership where team members have more responsibilities and seek continuous improvement. Once team members understand this, they will be more likely to embrace the change. 

  • Finding a Change Agent

A great approach is to find a change agent, starting with a team member and then moving on to establishing Lean practices among departments and ultimately turning the entire business into a lean organization. 

When working in a large organization, creating a pilot group comprising various members from different teams can be helpful. These people can act as change agents when they return to their original teams. 

To ensure that they are effective change agents, choose influential individuals from teams, such as senior members or informal leaders. Once the group is formed, introduce them to the 5 principles of Lean and provide a strong foundation for implementing Lean practices during Scrum project management.


1. What are the benefits of lean project management? 

Lean organizations steadily increase their profitability and efficiency since they have decreased overall costs, higher customer satisfaction, reduced lead times, higher quality products, and lowered inventory waste and storage costs.

2. What are the three types of waste in Lean manufacturing?

The three types of waste in lean manufacturing are:

  • Muda: These are activities that provide no additional value yet consume resources.  
  • Muri: It is the overburdening of employees and resources. 
  • Mura: It is the 'irregularity' in operation that ultimately decreases the productivity and efficiency of the organization in the long run. 

Lean in Scrum project management strives to reduce and eliminate these three Ms from the project process.  

3. What is the main purpose of Lean?

Scrum project management uses Lean to create value for the client by establishing a steady workflow through optimized resources that are ready to produce based on customer demand. Lean aims to reduce waste by evaluating project processes and eliminating and reducing steps and activities that do not add value. Doing so helps reduce the waste of time, money, and resources for the organization. 


If you want to learn more about how you can implement Lean in your organization to improve workflow, the Green Belt Certification Training Course will provide an in-depth understanding of Lean Six Sigma and enable you to lead projects by interpreting data strategically. 

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