I promised a post on my views of the “Lean Religion”, as I refer to it. Here it is. Don’t get me wrong; I agree with the intent, just not with the execution.
IMVU built a religion to market their product and the Cult of Lean did the footwork. The question is; how many subscribers of the lean religion actually use the product that IMVU is pushing? No one? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
They followed the tried and true method of getting as many eyeballs on them as possible. In a way you could say it worked, they are still in business after all. But with that many eyeballs on them, why are they not competitive with Zynga?
Because their product sucks. They focused so much on structuring their work that they forgot they need to feel it too. That’s the lean curse, and even they fell into that trap. Without feeling, you have a bland product and you can’t structure feeling. You need to just let it flow. If you have a brilliant idea, let it out. If you don’t, you can’t force it.
You think you are lean?
A third of your employees are managers? You are not lean. Cut the managers and get heads-down coding. Your coders don’t need babysitters, and if they do; fire them.
Regular brief meetings to determine direction and discuss targets? You are not lean. Dump your shit in a todo list. If it really needs to be fleshed out, just group chat between deploys.
Carefully structured release cycles? You are not lean. Release it when it works; not a moment sooner, nor later.
Screw your lean, screw your scrum, screw your kanban. To put it bluntly; just fucking do it. I do not subscribe to the lean religion, I just get shit done. A one man team can make a scalable service just as well as a hundred man team. The hundred man team just sounds more impressive.
Hack and slash, break and smash
If you find that your product requires more programmers than you have fingers, it is too complex. Break it up. Smash it to pieces. Spin off the pieces into totally separate projects, worked on by totally different teams.
If they need to interact regularly, you haven’t isolated the components well enough. Think of the platform. The platform rant that Steve Yegge posted on Google+ had it absolutely right; If your internal interfaces aren’t generic and boring, or are in any way different than public-facing interfaces, you are doing it wrong.
Do what works for you
I’ve seen many companies actually add complexity to fit within the lean paradigm. Few seem to recognize that the lean methodology are merely guidelines not rules. The lean approach is not a one-size-fits-all business model. Such a thing does not exist. Just do your work and the methods ideal to your specific situation will surface organically.