The Future of Work is Lean and Agile

Steve Pruneau

If there were 100 people in the lecture hall when we concluded in the previous post that all work roles need to be broken-down into short measurable tasks and objectives, then we can safely assume 99 exited muttering something like “NFW”. For the one curious soul still here, go ahead and move up to the front row.

If our company is to commit to cataloging and defining as many work tasks as possible, how would we do it? Don’t we have to invent a completely new way to work? Nope. Most of it is already developed. Of course ideas are still evolving quickly. But there are enough proven techniques that any company can start and gain efficiency almost immediately.

We borrow from Lean Manufacturing and Agile Software Development, both of which have been adapted for project management. What are we really talking about? Tasks. Lists of specific tasks. Or even better, a backlog of tasks, for each person over a short period of time.

English: This poster provides a good visual of...
This poster provides a good visual of the standard Agile Software Development methodology. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since there is huge inefficiency in the pay-for-time model of compensation, concepts developed in project management need to be applied to every day work. In short, we should all work from a list, always. Sounds like standard time management ideas right? Correct.

Day Timer
Franklin Covey
Getting Things Done

But most of us in traditional jobs, especially managers, are not working from a list. Instead, we require everyone to show up at the office 100% of the time.

When we work from a list, and do it in the manner of Agile principles or Lean, KanBan, the result will be a much stronger sense of direction and accomplishment for those delivering tasks on the list and it will be much more productive for the “client”, manager, or employer because value received for money spent will be more easily understood. When we have clear tasks and objectives, we know what work is completed and when, and we don’t need to oversee the process. Conversation will more focused on collaboration rather than management oversight.

This is the future of work and it already arrived. It just hasn’t been applied everywhere yet.

Lean KanBan North America (
The Agile Manifesto (
Google search: “Agile Project Management”.

Steve Pruneau leads executives and business owners to solve the gap between variable revenue and a fixed workforce. He is the first consultant at Free Agent Source. As a founder, Steve engages the broader community of corporate clients, entrepreneurs, startups and consultants. He manages company operations and lives in Los Angeles, CA.