Enterprise Kanban Part 2

japaneseKanbans

If you haven’t already, you should probably read Enterprise Kanban Part 1, which brings us up to the end of the first week where we had enough to get started and had used a “rough Kanban” for a week. At the end of that week we ran a retrospective:

Kanban ImprovementsRemember, these guys had never done Scrum or Kanban before. They were self-confessed “standard process heads” who came in to this with open minds, probably as they knew that a standard waterfall approach would be meaningless in a 1 1/2 month context and probably fail miserably.

The insight shown here is great and they’re contributing well, which you can see by the fact that I happened to use a green pen and my teammates used black. Interestingly, two of the 3 improvements voted for are really reflections from them wanting to use the process more effectively. The thing this revealed to me about retrospectives, is they can give people an objective way to ask for help. Rather than say “I need to use the system better, can you please help me?”, they are able to say “We need to improve the system so it is used better”. This takes the ego out of the equation and introduces objectivity, probably reduces the violence of the dialogue and encourages working as a team rather than a set of isolated individuals who need to “buck up” and “get with the program”. We already had a “Daily Scrum” in the morning which included our PM and others (such as our CEO) if they wanted to attend as Chickens but the other improvement, “End of day catch up (internal)”, was a great piece of insight given the pace we were working at (fast!) and the fact that we couldn’t let mistakes (which would occur) stay around for long. It also gave us a chance to quietly reflect at the end of the day amongst only ourselves and set us up nicely for the next days Scrum.

Note: I didn’t tell them beforehand that we’d select the top 3 improvements, it’s just a coincidence that there were only 3.

Next, it was time to set up a new board based on what we’d learnt the previous week – ah… nothing like a nice shiny new board, ready to be populated :-)

Empty KanbanYou can see that the Project (with sticky notes) plan now has an official place, and we’ve distinguished between Waiting (as a lot of our work was information gathering, and in a large company, that means a lot of waiting) and Stalled, which is the conventional concept of something that can’t be done for a blocking reason (other than waiting). Finally, we have the Deadlines area as the others wanted a way to track these. I personally didn’t think this was necessary but knew better than to impose my view – people need trust and the freedom to learn and who knows? They could be right!

I was obviously really happy as we’d got through the first week, my other team members thought this was useful and even better, were immersed in the process and contributing deeply to it. This should not really be a surprise though, as they were both smart people with about the same amount of experience as me and were open enough to embrace something that was a bit different but would help them work more effectively.

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