Lean Pilots: An Innovative Framework for Solving Enterprise-Level Challenges

Dr. Mariya Breyter, Director of Agile and Lean Practices and Misbah Chaudhry, Sr. Lean Project Manager, Dun & Bradstreet, Morganville, NJ, USA

Co-Speaker: Misbah Chaudhry, Sr. Lean Project Manager, Dun & Bradstreet, NJ, USA

Keywords:  Innovation, Lean Six Sigma, Agile
Industry: All

Level: Advanced

ABSTRACT

Lean Pilots is a new framework for solving enterprise-level cross-functional challenges by combining Agile/Scrum and Lean Six Sigma toolset. In the first year of inventing this framework, we ran seven pilots and four of those were able to address major challenges based on iterative way they worked, cross-functional teams that ran them, and introducing Scrum thinking to the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC methodology. The goal of this presentation is to share our case studies and enable attendees to start immediately applying it to the most complex business challenges in their organizations. 

This framework was organically invented by lean and agile enthusiasts at Dun & Bradstreet and is bringing Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques, Scrum practices and team-based culture to business teams across the organization. In the first year of inventing this framework, we ran seven pilots and four of those were able to address major challenges based on iterative way they worked, cross-functional teams that ran them, and introducing Scrum thinking to the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC methodology. Lean Pilots combine Scrum for Business equipped with Lean Six Sigma toolset and lean implementation methods. The goal of this presentation is to share case studies, basics of this new framework, and enable attendees to take it and start immediately applying to the most complex business challenges in their organizations. 

The Journey: We invented Lean Pilots to address multiple common misalignment and delivery common pain points: technology and business are not aligned, implementation cycle too slow, product launch strategy is not taken into account, and multiple others. We developed this framework through innovation, learning, and retrospection via “build-measure-learn” loop. In this framework, we use multiple aspects of agile and lean, which are governed by customer value. I am going to share how we came up with this idea, how it got modified through multiple iterations, what the challenges were along the way, and what is the business benefit of this approach. 

We have three principles: 1. Build a cross-functional team across business and technology and empower decision making at the team level 2. Use lean methodology to prioritize work and address 20% of improvement opportunities that will bring 80% of results 3. Deliver using Scrum framework so that iterative milestones are defined by the team and the value is delivered at regular intervals with complete transparency. In this way, we do not produce working software – we produce working and validated product, whether it is a process improvement initiative, or marketing effort, or it is a human resource innovation – there is no limit to scope of our cross-functional lean pilots. In our first year of implementing this approach, our 7 pilots up to date were able to resolve 4 of major business challenges, by combining “lean startup” with scrum and creating a lean enterprise approach, which we reference as “lean pilots”. We used “lean pilots” to analyze and automate business processes, to meet government regulations, to address IT security needs, and to organize our sales assets – in each case, the framework was useful and the approach worked, though we learned a lot along the way and are still improving – I will share the current state and the journey. 

The example that I will use as a case study is our “contract automation” initiative. I will share the problem we addressed, lean toolbox that we utilized, our metrics every sprint, learnings, and business impact throughout six 3-week sprints of “lean piloting”. It is an inspirational story full of learning – for our 175-year old business, for our customers, and for us as agile and lean practitioners. This is an example of using Agile outside of software development and of implementing lean practices (DMAIC methodology, root cause analysis, statistical validation, PICK prioritization method, and many others) to solve major business challenges. 

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