01.25.19 | Chris Daily |
Kanban = Focus
It’s no secret that, as those of you who have worked with me in the past know, I sometimes have a hard time sticking to one thing. I often find myself drifting off to look at some new shiny object/topic that leads me down a rabbit hole. I call this “squirreling.”
So what’s the antidote? Does one exist? I have found over the years that time and time again, utilizing Kanban is powerful stuff.
I learned Kanban as part of my Agile journey and use it as a tool that improves productivity and the flow of work. It formalizes the concept of Visual Management by allowing a team to see the work that is in progress, as well as the relationships and risks that affect a team’s ability to deliver its work on time.
It has been widely used by IT service groups and software development teams.
Power in Transparency
Here’s a surprise: with its foundation in lean manufacturing, Kanban works for non-IT related work as well.
By adopting Kanban, anyone can see:
- Work in progress
- Impediments to completing work
- Improved communication among the team
- Improved engagement by the team due to better collaboration
- The priority of the work, and where it is at in the process
Make it yours – KANBAN YOUR WAY!
Trust Your Eyes: Visual Management
Why does a visual approach to work matter? Because we, as humans, are visual creatures. Research shows that the brain can process visual information over 50,000 times faster than text.
Let’s look at an example.
Here is some wording to warn you of something to be cautious about:
“While you are traveling down this road, there is a chance that one or more rocks of varying size may fall from the slopes on one or both sides of you. You should be aware of this before you travel this way so that you are cautious of this particular type of hazard.”
Here’s a visual version of the same thing.
What is quicker? Reading a little more than 50 words, or looking at the sign? If you were driving down the road, which warning would you prefer?
This is the power of Kanban.
You can quickly get a sense of what is happening at a glance. This is known as visual management.
Visual management is a way to visually communicate expectations, performance, standards or warnings in a way that requires little or no prior training to interpret. By being visual, Kanban boards allow you to see the status and find information about tasks without having to sort through your email and then reading through the email thread to find out whether the work is complete or not.
As a leader, you can just say, “Check out the board!”
Now Planning: Everywhere
At its simplest, a Kanban board consists of three columns:
- To Do
With some sticky notes and some blue painter’s tape, any setting with a flat surface (wall, whiteboard, tabletop) can become a Kanban board. It doesn’t have to get any more complicated than that. It’s entirely up to you. How involved do you want to make it? Make it yours.
Kanban has some rules and practices that are defined, yet many people customize their use to reflect better what they are trying to accomplish.
Here are a couple of sites that have excellent info on Kanban:
A Visual Plan for Results
Once you’ve created your Kanban board, the power of Kanban leaps out at you every time you take a look at the board. Things to look for include:
- Items stuck in the same state for long periods
- Amount of work in process at a given point
- Waste in the forms of handoffs and wait times
Using a Kanban board creates transparency while improving effectiveness by improving collaboration. Instead of status reporting, project managers can focus on other items that provide more value. What’s more, onsite and remote team members can see the status of a project in real time.
Kanban can be used to identify waste visually with a goal of improving efficiency.
Kanban also helps teams to visually identify log jams and identify opportunities for improving the process. Effectively managing the work improves focus and engagement, resulting in an improvement in morale.
Common sense tells us people are more efficient when they can focus on only a few tasks at once.
Kanban is one of the simplest, yet most powerful tools in the Agile Toolbox. It’s applicable across industries and is even relevant in your personal life. We’re happy to provide a dynamic, comprehensive one-day “crash course” to get you comfortable and empowered with Kanban. During The Framework Series: Kanban 101, you’ll discover how adopting this framework will help you process lightly: to be lean, adaptable, and Agile during any step of your project’s journey.
Thanks for stopping by.