Lean and Agile 101


Here at VSE Inc, our goal is to create valuable, quality products as quickly as possible with minimal resources.

Minimal resources doesn’t mean that our work is handled with little effort or care; on the contrary, we throw ourselves into tasks with such enthusiasm that we need a way to make sure everything we build is actually used instead of being tossed aside when conditions for projects inevitably change.

Basically, we don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

That’s where Lean and Agile methodologies come in!

What is Lean? What is Agile?

Let’s break it down:


According to the Lean experts, “the ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste.”

Simply, it’s eliminating anything that doesn’t add value.

We ignore everything except for what we absolutely need to work on in order to create value right now. This helps us avoid wasting time, energy, and capital on future-think.

Think about it! How often have we built something that, at the time, we knew we would need in the future. But then there’s a shift in our understanding, which makes the work we just did counterproductive — the plans change, everything we created needs to be revisited, and sometimes our initial efforts end up unused altogether.

Because we are always learning and our products are changing, we need to get past the future-think mentality and focus on what’s necessary and on the people building quality into the work.

Essentially, Lean says we need “to respect that the people doing the work are the ones that best know how to do it. Give them what they need to be effective and then trust them to do it.”


Agile thinking goes hand-in-hand with a Lean strategy, because it also addresses the fact that we should be continuously learning.

The Agile Manifesto values are:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

Tackling complex projects with an Agile approach means that we deliver valuable work frequently (through small, manageable tasks), we repeatedly evaluate our objectives, we regularly confirm satisfaction with what we have built and what we will build next, and we improve by inspecting and adapting.

Simply put, we constantly check in to make sure we’re on track, and if we’re not we adjust as needed.

We do this by using the Scrum framework. Scrum is “the leading agile development methodology” and provides our self-organizing teams with continual feedback and a clear structure of projects from start to finish. Scrum gives us focus by determining what we need to accomplish during each sprint and making sure nothing gets in the way of the work.

At VSE Inc, we work in highly collaborative teams. We work with agility, knowing that everything changes. We reassess (Is what we’re building still valuable? Does the customer still want it? What have we learned?). We adapt.

We don’t have to have everything figured out in order to start a project — just a vision for the direction we’re headed and the most important thing we need now in order to create value.

Give us just enough to get started, and then we hit the ground running.

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