Notes on the “Non-Linear Birds of a Feather” at LESS2011

November 4, 2011 — Posted by Al Shalloway

Note: This is not a normal blog from me, but really notes about a birds of a feature I organized at LESS 2011. There have been three blogs on it so far:

Jørn's seems to have gathered the most comments so far, but I'd definitely start out with Jurgen's.

My intention of having the session on this was that I have found power in explicitly stating one's workflow.  Unfortunately, workflow can be complex and it seemed that there might be some value in making board reflect it more accurately.  I am not sure I am correct here in my instincts - they are often wrong.  But I am usually correct in exploring them - as that's how I best learn.  

Anyway, we took some notes during the B of a F and thought I'd list, best as I can read my writing, here.This is mostly for those who attended the session but everyone is welcome to read.

One of the intents of the board was to be a representation of the value stream – to create visibility on the workflow.

Our initial notes were about the mechanics of the networked Kanban board. Some of the characteristics were as follows:

  • Workflow would have agreements on what it took to enter and exit a stage
  • We were doing this in order to manage mura (unevenness of work) better *
  • The board should help us manage (via better balance) our workflow

     

* Mura, not muda, is the real culprit, btw. Mura (unevenness of work) causes muri (overburdening of workers) which causes muda (waste).

There was also the idea that the value network map might better help us model what was going on. In other words, it might reflect:

  • Complexity of management
  • Bandwidth of communication between steps
  • Improve our clarity of purpose
  • Improve our risk mitigation

There was the intent that a visual representation could create tension from the current flow to a better flow. This might increase awareness of errors in our understanding – thereby improving flow. Hopefully it'd also help foster teamwork.

To do this it'd have to handle:

  • Handle different types of work
  • Handle different types of people (based on what skills/characteristics might constrain us)
  • Show proper reflection of capacity / constraints
    • Skills
    • Domain knowledge
    • Legacy knowledge
    • Design knowledge
    • Political

Finally, we looked at the some results we'd want to achieve with the board would be:

  • management and leaders can see what is happening
  • People better understand
  • People better collaborate
  • Synergy

A couple of final thoughts was that we didn't necessarily need a complex model even thought the situation was complex. We wanted as simple a board that would help us achieve some of these intentions. The above is more of a listing of forces present in the domain of representing our work to help make us more effective and efficient.

 

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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With 45 years of experience, Al is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, Scrum and agile design. He helps companies transition to Lean and Agile methods enterprise-wide as well teaches courses in these areas.



        

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