Updated: This topic has been expanded with a broader focus from Lean IA to Lean UX. The full essay version of the topic can be found on Smashing Magazine while the most recent presentation deck version can be found on Slideshare.
Traditionally Information Architecture (and its siblings Interaction Design, UX Design, et al) has been a deliverables practice. Wireframes, sitemaps, flow diagrams, content inventories, taxonomies etc defined the practice. While this work has helped define what an IA does and the value the discipline brings to an organization, it has also put IA’s in the deliverables business – measured and compensated for the depth and breadth of their deliverables (instead of the quality and success of the experiences they design). In addition this has forced niche specialization into our practice that has limited the success and growth of IA’s outside of the large organizations that can support these niches. People have become documentation subject matter experts focusing on (and being rewarded for) the quality of the document they’re creating as opposed to the end-state experience that document describes.
Enter Lean IA.