Theory Behind Incorporating Lean & Kanban in Product Lifecycle Management

February 4th, 2020 by inflectra

In the following post Sriram Rajagopalan - Inflectra's Enterprise Agile Champion discusses the theory of leadership in product management and the use of lean approaches for acceleration of organizational growth

This blog complements Inflectra's January 23 webinar on the same topic, with the webinar recording available inside.

State of Product Leadership

Today’s world is exploding with speed to market. Competition is soaring across the globe. Organizations require everyone to come up to speed fast. This means we are rushing and are rushed more than we should be. As a result, we get eventually stuck in product development. We need to understand the product management a little more than quickly jumping to choosing something that worked in the past and jump straight ahead. A calculated pause is necessary. This is where the principles of lean come to our rescue.

According to the State of Product Leadership study (2019) by Pendo, product managers report to several departments. But, one of the most telling statistics here is that about 77% of these product managers do not report to the product department group. When we take a deeper dive, the position most product managers held last portrays a different picture. A good majority comes from Marketing, Project Management, Engineering and UX/Design. How much can these positions contribute to being the voice of the customer and voice of business? Particularly, business analysts don’t evolve to become product managers.

Product Management: Deeper Dive

Granted that this study is about one organization. Shifting our focus then to the roles and responsibilities, there is a lot more confusion with an increasing focus on agile. The tug-of-war on roles and responsibilities between the product manager and product owner continues despite attempts to reconcile the two (Rajagopalan, 2014). So, ignoring whether the title is a product owner or product manager, let us look at what product management needs to do.

From a product lifecycle perspective, it is important to emphasize that the product manager understands why, where, and how the product fits or aligns with the corporate business strategy. If not, the product manager may spend precious resources - time, investment, labor -  on a product that should be retired or ignore the opportunity cost of working on a product that the market may actually need.

How should we adopt lean principles in the product lifecycle?

In my experience, organizations should understand the lean philosophy and empower product management. No organization has an infinite capacity,  unlimited resources or limitless investment. These constraints will always have to be factored in. Lean emphasizes the principle of delivering value as soon as possible while delaying decision-making as late as possible on opportunities whose value can’t be clearly and convincingly articulated. Consequently, the lean principle enforces:

  • product strategy alignment with business strategy
  • sustainable development through the elimination of waste and by maintaining the flow,
  • a culture of learning by channeling lessons learned about process improvements throughout the organizational structure.

As a result, product lifecycle management benefits because people become competent with cross-functional skills (and are reporting higher levels of customer engagement and retention). More product managers are shedding the mantle of task-oriented custodians and are instead seeing themselves as visionaries with social orientation. They are building relationships across other units and aligning their products with marketing, UX, and customer success beyond engineering. Their expertise and competencies with multiple frameworks and tools help them integrate the best of frameworks, processes, and tools.

What are the things that they should do to incorporate lean in product lifecycle management? Check out this webinar to get a deeper insights.



Rajagopalan, S. (2014). Mapping the Product Manager Role to the Product Owner Role. Scrum Alliance. Retrieved Jan 8, 2020, from

Theory Incorporating Lean & Kanban in Product Lifecycle Management webinar recap

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