Team Motivation in Lean
If you are a software developer, or a manager of a software development company, you probably know that motivation of your employees is a significant part of your work. The types of this motivation often depend on the methodology you use and the structure of your team. In this article we will tell you about team motivation in Lean. But before doing that, we have to give the proper definition of Lean methodology and describe the structure of its teams.
Lean originated in the 1950s in Japan. At that time the famous Japanese motor corporation Toyota had large problems with delivery of its production. The managers of the company invented a new manufacturing methodology that was called Toyota production system. Its name changed after it became popular all over the world. Now it is famous under the name Lean manufacturing. The main idea of Lean is to improve the terms of product delivery through waste elimination. The methodology has its own definition of wastes that may look quite weird for many software developers. In Lean any action that does not add new functionality to the final product is considered a waste. In 2003, after Tom and Mary Poppendieck published their first book “Lean Software Development”, the methodology was applied to software engineering industry. It became one of the Agile methodologies, because it shares all Agile principles including iterative structure of projects, strong customer involvement, and constant communication between the team members.
Lean teams are also organized according to Agile principles. They are small and usually include less than 15 people. Lean developers are high qualified specialists, because each of them has to perform a few roles. That can be explained by the fact that Lean teams include only the most necessary roles. They don’t have project managers, analysts, or testers. One more important thing about Lean teams is that they are self-managing. It means that the team is always responsible for the result of its work as a whole. Such structure of Lean teams allows their members to achieve great results while realizing their projects.
Now, as we know the main principles of Lean methodology and the structure of its teams, we can talk about their motivation.
The first thing we must mention is that Lean teams don’t have strict hierarchical structure. It means that there are no strict orders in them. In other software development methodologies, like the traditional Waterfall, orders and strict instructions are an important part of team motivation. However, Lean teams do not use them. They are self-managing. The only means of Lean team motivation is mutual respect. It is even declared as one of the main principles of this methodology. As already mentioned above, Lean teams consist of experienced and high qualified developers. You must respect them and create the best conditions for their work. If they work in a good office and get compatible salaries, the effectiveness of their work is very high and you don’t have to worry about the quality of the final product.