Choose The Right Approach

There are so many methodologies to consider when trying to transform your organization.
·       Lean
·       Agile/Scrum
·       Service Design / Design Thinking
·       Six Sigma
·       ITIL
·       Lean Startup

Where to begin?

In our experience, organizational issues do not always fit cozily into these categories.  Making organizations work better requires more of a toolbox than a single tool.  In our practice, we adapt the discipline that is best suited to each specific challenge.

The following tool is designed to help you understand the strengths of different improvement methodologies, so that you can use the right tool for the job.

  • Lean

    Philosophy, methodology, routines and improvement tools to flow value to client; a management system to lead/manage an organization.

    Business Process Re-engineering

    A business strategy - large-scale redesign of processes, often involving IT systems.

    Six Sigma

    A project-based process improvement methodology to reduce defects, variation to deliver more consistently.

    Agile/Scrum

    A philosophy (Agile), project methodology, and set of practices/routines (Scrum) to develop products.

    Service Design

    A set of skills that help organizations provide services that meet user needs in a cost-effective way.

    Design Thinking

    A method or approach for designing/improving new products or services.

    Customer Experience (CX)

    A framework for understanding/ managing the entire lifecycle of client relationship with the organization.

    Lean Startup

    A methodology for developing new businesses and products.

    ITIL 4
    (Info Technology Infrastructure Library)

    Framework to deliver IT services through prescribed processes, procedures, tasks, and checklists.

  • Lean

    Maximize client value while minimizing waste (of human and other resources, time, etc.) through breakthrough and continuous improvement. Create flow across functional islands, make the work visible, create routines of learning/improvement.

    Business Process Re-engineering

    Business process reengineering (BPR) is the practice of rethinking and redesigning the way work is done to better support an organization's mission and reduce costs.

    Six Sigma

    Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects and reducing variation in any process.

    Agile/Scrum

    Approach to develop products (often software) in chaotic, uncertain environments. Solutions evolve through collaborative self-organizing, cross-functional teams and clients.

    Service Design

    Identifies service failure root causes, seeks evidence to make informed improvements to meet user needs in a cost-effective way via influencing design of technology, processes and organization culture.

    Design Thinking

    Cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts (proposals for new products, buildings, machines, etc.) are developed.

    Customer Experience (CX)

    The cumulative impacts of all interactions (“touchpoints”) between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship.

    Lean Startup

    Measures-driven method of iterative product development to increase speed of learning about the true market demand and commercial viability of a product.

    ITIL 4
    (Info Technology Infrastructure Library)

    A set of detailed practices, tasks, checklists for IT service management (ITSM) focusing on aligning IT services with the needs of business, and improving delivery on these needs.

  • Lean

    Focuses on delivery of client value and involving all employees in problem solving and continuous improvement.  Very people-centric.  Focused on process and also routines/habits and visual systems of management. Creates “North Star” focused organization strategy and execution.

    Business Process Re-engineering

    Usually relies heavily on enterprise resource planning software (ERPS) to redesign business processes.

    Six Sigma

    Project-based with an emphasis on empirical, statistical analysis, Six-Sigma strives to identify and eliminate defects in a process while minimizing variation.

    Agile/Scrum

    Adaptive planning, iterative development, early delivery of value, and continual improvement.  Rapid and flexible responses to change over more traditional, plan-based approaches.

    Service Design

    Helps improve services from start to finish, from the back office to user-facing touchpoints, across all channels.

    Design Thinking


    Uses creativity and industrial design techniques in the development of highly people-centric/user-centric products and services.

    Customer Experience (CX)

    Goes beyond transactional model - considers the emotional connections clients experience with a brand/organization over time, also client journey/experience of using the product/service — to create client flow, not friction.

    Lean Startup

    Adapts selected elements of Lean/Agile methods to startup businesses and their products.

    ITIL 4
    (Info Technology Infrastructure Library)

    Detailed, prescribed approach to create standard IT processes, procedures, governance, strategy development; While prescribed, it does leave room for “how” to improve.

  • Lean

    Engages all employees and leaders in freeing up capacity and improving speed, quality and/or cost of producing/delivering a product or service.  Creates greater focus, alignment, visibility and sustained ongoing improvement.

    Business Process Re-engineering

    Defines a company’s strategy and mission and then aligns processes to them, often by eliminating processes completely and then rebuilding them from the ground up.

    Six Sigma

    Uses a technical, expert-driven approach to improve speed, quality and/or cost of producing/delivering a product or service to a customer.

    Agile/Scrum

    Delivers working product faster to customers with less effort.  Especially useful when requirements change often and there is uncertainty about what customers/markets want.

    Service Design

    Most useful when dealing with uncertainty surrounding problems with services running within complex ecosystems, with many factors influencing the quality and cost of a service.

    Design Thinking

    Useful for new product development and solving complex problems that cannot be solved by technical expertise alone.  Design for usability.

    Customer Experience (CX)

    Integrating all aspects of the organization's relationship with client, building loyalty over time, increasing smoothness of the experience and reduction in frustration.

    Lean Startup

    Shortens product development cycles and tests business model viability. Reduces risk of spending money and time on unviable products.

    ITIL 4
    (Info Technology Infrastructure Library)

    Standardizes and sets up for improvement of IT services so that they are more aligned and better support the organization’s businesses.

  • Lean

    • Customer Focus
    • Continuous Improvement
    • Employee Engagement
    • Accelerated Lead Times
    • High Quality

    Business Process Re-engineering

    • Breakthrough Innovation
    • Technological Automation
    • Cost Reduction

    Six Sigma

    • Continuous Improvement
    • High Quality
    • Cost Reduction
    • More consistent delivery
    • Elimination of variation

    Agile/Scrum

    • Customer Focus
    • Continuous Improvement
    • Employee Engagement
    • Accelerated Lead Times

    Service Design

    • User needs
    • Failure demand
    • Organization goals
    • Improve culture, process and technology

    Design Thinking

    • Customer Focus, Empathy, Usability
    • Breakthrough Innovation

    Customer Experience (CX)

    • Customer Focus and Empathy
    • Continuous Improvement
    • High Quality

    Lean Startup

    • Customer Focus
    • Continuous Improvement
    • Breakthrough Innovation

    ITIL 4
    (Info Technology Infrastructure Library)

    • Focus on value
    • Progress in iterations
    • Collaboration and visibility
    • Think and work end-to-end
    • Optimize and automate
  • Lean

    “Lean” is the term American academics used to describe the Toyota Production System in the late 1980’s.  Subsequently adapted to knowledge work and services.

    Business Process Re-engineering

    Became popular in 1990s to improve competitiveness and the tendency for IT to automate existing processes rather than rethinking and redesigning.

    Six Sigma

    First introduced by an engineer at Motorola in the 1980s and was popularized by Jack Welch at General Electric in the 1990s.

    Agile/Scrum

    2001: “Agile” popularized by a manifesto written by 17 software developers.  Practices like Scrum, XP and others came to be known as agile methods.

    Service Design

    G. Lynn Shostack: created service blueprints for banks in 1982. London design agencies started selling it in 2000, it went global from 2008 onwards, and in-house from around 2012.

    Design Thinking

    Gained popularity outside industrial design world in early 2000s due to the success of IDEO, Stanford’s D-School, and many popular books.

    Customer Experience (CX)

    Emerged from marketing research in the early 21st century.  Gained increased attention to manage and improve digital relationships with customers.

    Lean Startup

    Eric Ries used ideas from lean, agile/scrum, and entrepreneurship to improve the odds of a new business succeeding.

    ITIL 4
    (Info Technology Infrastructure Library)

    1980’s UK government created ITIL to create common  practices of delivering IT services. Evolved to incorporate principles of Lean/Agile, etc.

  • Lean

    • Define Value
    • Map Value Stream
    • Create Flow
    • Establish Pull
    • Seek Perfection

    Business Process Re-engineering

    • Identify Processes
    • Review/Update/Analyze “As Is” State
    • Design “To Be” State
    • Test and Implement “To Be”

    Six Sigma

    • Define
    • Measure
    • Analyze
    • Improve
    • Control

    Agile/Scrum

    • Create Product Backlog
    • Plan Sprint
    • Develop Iteratively and - - Deliver Incremental Value
    • Refine Product Backlog
    • Review and Reflect

    Service Design

    • Understand the service, users, needs and context
    • Test prototypes looking to improve the service
    • Scale the solutions that test well
    • Iterate. Then iterate again

    Design Thinking

    • Understand Customer
    • Define and Frame Problem
    • Generate Ideas and Solutions
    • Create Rapid Prototypes
    • Test and Evaluate

    Customer Experience (CX)

    • Design the customer experience
    • Deliver the customer experience
    • Develop culture of CX to deliver consistently

    Lean Startup

    • Build
    • Measure
    • Learn

    ITIL 4
    (Info Technology Infrastructure Library)

    • Plan, Improve, Engage, Design and Transition, Obtain/Build, Delvier/Support
  • Lean

    Incompatible with command-and control cultures; lack of leaders understanding their role; stalls when “tool”-focused and people/behavior-side underestimated.

    Business Process Re-engineering

    Has been used as a pretext for downsizing. Technology over people engagement, culture and change management focus.

    Six Sigma

    Often presented as technical and statistical, frightening non-technical people.  Can be used in a too tools-focused way.

    Agile/Scrum

    Some cultures struggle with allowing development teams to self-organize; unclear on role of leadership; can be challenging to scale-out.

    Service Design

    When service design only informs strategy, too far away from delivery, the blueprints never get implemented.

    Design Thinking

    Formulas can be applied too mechanically to create breakthroughs.  Low trust and command-and-control undermine it.

    Customer Experience (CX)

    Don’t truly listen to true client needs.  Lack of ownership. Silos take priority over clients.  Lack of measurement to guide improvement.

    Lean Startup

    Organization may short-circuit its experiments, or not truly learn from them, instead using the exercise to confirm their existing ideas.

    ITIL 4
    (Info Technology Infrastructure Library)

    Treating ITIL as the end point, not a means to the end; not adapting ITIL to own needs/reality; cultural resistance; major effort to deploy, so abandoned.

  • Lean

    Manufacturing, healthcare, government, many other industries

    Business Process Re-engineering

    Many major industries

    Six Sigma

    Precision/volume industries where defects are critical.

    Agile/Scrum

    Primarily in software/complex product development

    Service Design

    Service sector, across all of the private and public sector

    Design Thinking

    All major industries, especially facing clients/users

    Customer Experience (CX)

    Primarily in retail and services

    Lean Startup

    Startups, also US government programs

    ITIL 4
    (Info Technology Infrastructure Library)

    Government, universities, large corporations

  • Lean

    Toyota, Intel, ThedaCare

    Business Process Re-engineering

    Porsche, CIGNA

    Six Sigma

    Motorola, General Electric

    Agile/Scrum

    Google, Facebook, CNN, IBM

    Service Design

    Government Digital Service UK

    Design Thinking

    IDEO

    Customer Experience (CX)

    DHL, Eurostar

    Lean Startup

    Zappos, IMVU

    ITIL 4
    (Info Technology Infrastructure Library)

    UK Government, Boeing, Target, Disney

  • Customer Experience (CX)

    Six Disciplines of CX

    ITIL 4
    (Info Technology Infrastructure Library)

    ALEXOS