A conversation today reminded me of my musings about waste from a couple of months ago. The context being that Scrum is misunderstood more often than it's understood, the relatively broad statements of the Agile Manifesto are easily abused to claim whatever you're currently doing is "agile", and in any case the waters are muddied by people claiming what they're doing is Lean or some other variation on the theme that excuses them from certain specifics.

(We have such happy conversations sometimes!)

I think it's time to start building the "are you Agile/Lean/etc or not?" debate around just one simple question.

When you see an activity that's wasteful, do you immediately take corrective action?

Organisations that are agile, or lean, or whatever you want to call "not being utterly hidebound by process" can unequivocally answer "yes" to this question. This is not to say they always fix it on the spot, but they do something to make things better. By always doing something, no matter how small, they continuously improve until all of the big frustrations and blockers to productivity are fixed.

Organisations that are not agile/lean/etc are where you immediately descend into the land of the yeah-buts. "Yeah but we've always done it this way." Or, "yeah but we can't change that." Perhaps the old favourite, "yeah but we're different." Which is fine... so long as you accept there's no agile-but. This is a do-or-do-not proposition, and organisations who choose the not option are now cutting themselves off from not only efficient working practices but the best talent as well.