busy kanban board

Over the past few years I’ve heard more and more talks at conferences mentioning Kanban boards and I’ve seen teams from a wider set of departments and industries adopting a visual work management process. I think it’s safe to say that visualizing your work isn’t just for software development anymore. While I’m excited about this progress, I see many people implementing visualization, getting some quick wins and then… nothing. I shouldn’t be surprised at this. I often tell people that when you improve one issue, the reward is being able to see the next one. The pattern is as true at this macro level as it is within individual value streams.

The Kanban Method guides us to start where we are now but the goal isn’t stasis. We aren’t supposed to put up a board and then sit back and revel in our sheer awesomeness. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. To achieve that elusive “full potential,” we must accept that we can always be better and learn to love the chase of the next improvement. If only we treated it like a video game where each time you make something better, you level up and geek out over the next level’s challenge!

The next step…

I’ve decided to take up the challenge of helping people see that the plateau is real and that they might even be on it. But, I also need to help them know what steps they can take to move forward.

My conference talks for 2017 share nine tips across the three major themes of systems thinking, flow and intact feedback loops. Make sure to subscribe to this blog via the form to the right and get notified as upcoming posts are published on each of these nine tips. I’ll post a link to each on this page as they are published so this will become an index of sorts.

Theme: Flow

Tip #1: Make your visualization about the work, not the worker

Kanban Simulation

I also created a new Kanban simulation that helps participants feel the pain of unconstrained push systems despite having a visualization. Then, pull and work-in-process limits are added to the visualization before a second run of the simulation that should help participants feel the positive impacts of a constrained pull system. I’ve posted this simulation on github so others can access it. Feel free to use it and let me know how it goes and your ideas for improvement! If you attended the inaugural run of this workshop at Agile Cambridge 2017, let me know what your team discussed and what your takeaways were?

Comment below if you’d like to share any tips or tricks that you’ve used or benefited from when moving off the plateau.