Lead time matters

The difference between lead and cycle time, and how to tackle these metrics to maximize flow.

Lead time matters far more than cycle time most when you’re optimizing for flow across an organization.

If the difference between the two isn’t obvious to you, here’s a quick diagram that summarizes the most basic differences between these two concepts. 

Now, that’s an oversimplification since one person’s cycle time can be someone else's' lead time but at the end of the day lead and cycle times could be either value add or not. 

My point is that engineering and IT leaders should attack lead time with at least as much energy, if not more, in organizations where engineers, designers and product managers have a hard time getting into flow and solving problems creatively. 


Lead time stacks if you’re optimizing for maximizing flow  and minimization of value less work.

If you’re scared that your output will reduce by focusing on minimizing total WIP and optimizing for flow, I’d recommend exploring Lean Enterprise, Accelerate and Flow.