Understand motivation for change

One piece of feedback I’ve received a few times on step 1 of STATIK (and therefore on chapter 18 of my book Kanban from the Inside also) is that “Understand sources of dissatisfaction” sounds rather negative. What about sources of satisfaction, pride, strength, and so on? Are those unimportant?

It’s a very valid comment, and with David at this week’s Train-the-Trainer class in Cascais, Portugal, we renamed this step “Understand motivation for change”. Ironically, this name existed already as the title for the accompanying class exercise!

We made the change to the Foundations deck right there in front of the class. Other decks and my book will be updated as soon as is practically possible.

As it happens, I am very interested in the positive (the naming of my blog is no accident). My favourite retrospective format—a format that would work well in the context of a STATIK workshop—is the Stanford d.school’s “I like / I wish / I wonder” (“IL/IW/IW”) or “I like / wish / What if” (“IL/IW/WI”) which sometimes I abbreviate to “+/-/?”. In one simple exercise, we find out both what we’d like to change, what we’re keen to preserve, and what needs digging into further.

STATIK requires us to do this from two perspectives, internal and external. As my friend Markus Andrezak puts it, we need both self-awareness and empathy. Let’s strike the right balance between the positive and the negative also. It’s not all bad!

Source: Markus Andrezak

STATIK, Kanban’s Hidden Gem (my #lkce14 talk)

[Updated – see end of article]

The 2014 autumn conference season closes with Lean Kanban Central Europe 2014, one of my favourite events of the year. My talk expands on the STATIK part of last week’s keynote.

It starts with the underpants gnomes, who (like many) might implement Kanban thus:

  1. ???
  2. Put up a board
  3. ???
  4. Profit!

It finishes with purpose:

Know what you’re delivering, to whom, and why

For at least one audience member, the key slides are in the middle, slides 33-34. I described as “a little old fashioned” the idea that we deliver incrementally in order to get feedback. As per last week’s keynote, we need to be validating relentlessly right through the process; only then can we hope to anticipate customer needs. The change to “hypothesis driven development” isn’t just a change of jargon!

Update: This sketchnote captures slide 50 beautifully:

Sketchnote

I wish I could do that!

Notes on my #lkuk14 keynote – Inside Lean Kanban

Here’s the deck for my keynote yesterday, with which I opened Lean Kanban United Kingdom 2014 (#lkuk14):

A few notes on key slides:

  • Slides 9-10 show to a card inserted into each delegate’s welcome pack. The reverse side (slide 10) aided audience participation in later slides
  • Slides 30-42 illustrates resonances between three highly condensed heuristics from Dave Snowden – finer-grained objects; disintermediation; distributed cognition – and six of the Kanban values. Indirectly, all of the Kanban Method’s core practices are represented (I neglected to mention that in my narration)
  • Slide 44 – repeated at the end in slide 73 – is I think the key takeaway. It’s one way to describe the essence of Kanban: operate kanban systems; increase understanding; pull change through the system
  • The intervening slides describe Reverse STATIK
  • Slide 72 is my attempt at a Kanban “big picture”. If you have better drawing skills than mine (most people do) and would like to make it more presentable, get in touch!

Book-related roundup

In chronological order:

In the background are discussions on translating Kanban from the Inside into other languages. I’ll announce them here as soon as agreements are in place.

I should mention also that Lean Kanban UK 2014 takes place the week after next. My opening keynote is called “Inside Lean Kanban”. An echo, not a plug!

Kanban from the Inside is now available on Kindle

In addition to the existing paperback, my book Kanban from the Inside is now available on Kindle via amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.de and amazon.fr and (no doubt) other amazons also. A PDF e-book is also available via the djaa.com store.

In a two-sentence summary: understand the Kanban Method, connect it with familiar models such as Lean, Agile, and Theory of Constraints, and learn how to implement it step-by-step in your organization. Learn practical techniques to apply the Kanban Method, always considering the context of your situation and the people involved.

Read it, then leave a review!

A process of knowledge discovery

Creative knowledge work is a process of knowledge discovery. You might say that this statement goes a long way to define creative knowledge work and let the rest be left the imagination, but there is still plenty to be said about the process of knowledge discovery.

In Kanban from the Inside I make 16 mentions of “knowledge discovery” – clearly it’s an important term! They are concentrated in these chapters:

  • 4. Customer Focus, about the value
  • 10. Patterns and Agendas, which introduces the Kanban Lens
  • 20., 22., and 23., which take us through the STATIK implementation steps Model the Workflow (aka Model the Knowledge Discovery Process), Design Kanban Systems, and Rollout respectively

The presence here of the customer focus value is a clue that I leave precise technical definitions to others. Instead, I describe the coming together of attitude and actual practice, which (in general) values encapsulate superbly. My conclusions could be summarised as follows:

  • Aim not merely to take orders or to satisfy requirements, but instead to anticipate and meet needs at the right time
  • Be humble about how little you really know; proceed accordingly
  • Be humble about how inadequately your process uncovers needs; help it to adapt
  • Even after delivery, expect to learn more about how needs are being met; validate!

In short—and with apologies to Stephen Covey—begin humbly with the undiscovered need in mind.

I use the word “humbling” every time I retell the story of my first introduction of an explicit post-delivery validation step. Tired of seeing my teams deliver against unneeded requirements, I insisted on it out of pure frustration and with a “that will teach them” kind of negativity, aimed mainly but not exclusively at our customers. The effect on the whole process was however nothing short of profound; the end result being real collaboration at every stage of the process!

Nowadays, and with the advent of the likes of Lean Startup and Lean UX in which validation is formalized, we know that a commitment to validation is a highly repeatable way to catalyze a shift from requirements-driven to hypothesis-driven development. The Kanban Method doesn’t make this commitment explicit, but it is a widely recognized practice fully in keeping with the customer focus value and the core practices of “Manage flow” and “Implement feedback loops”. And for me personally, there’s no going back.

 

Did I mention that I have a book out?

Thrilled that I can move Kanban from the Inside to the “Published” column now! Complete with an awesome foreword by Luke Hohmann, It’s available in paperback on Amazon (I checked .com, .co.uk, .de and .fr) and a Kindle version will be available very soon. Reviews should start to arrive in the next few days.

[Update: As of September 29th the Kindle edition is now available, and a PDF e-book is also available via the djaa.com store.]

It has been quite a long haul, but I don’t regret a minute of it. It all started right here 20 months ago with a humble blog post Introducing Kanban through its values, but that title describes just 9 of the 23 chapters. There’s also all the “models”—Systems Thinking, Lean, Agile, Theory of Constraints and so on—and the implementation approach, STATIK. Serious work on the book started in July last year when I presented an outline to Janice and David; writing took a little less than a year after that, but then there’s all the other stuff…

I should mention that we can handle bulk orders and can produce corporate branded versions with your logo on the cover and your message on an inside page. Enquiries to sales@djaa.com. You can enquire after my own availability there also. In the immediate term given current workload, single days in the UK or an evening’s hop away.

Announcing Featureban

I have two speaking engagements in September, a Lean conference in Belfast organised by the regional development agency Invest Northern Ireland titled “Driving Competitiveness through Continuous Improvement” on the 9th, and a return to Lean Agile Scotland in Edinburgh on the 11th and 12th. At both events I have extended workshop sessions which allow me to give what will be the third and fourth outings to a new Kanban simulation game, Featureban (I launched it at this year’s Kanban Leadership Retreat and used it again with minor modifications at a recent Train-the-Trainer).

Featureban is a fun way for small groups to try out some basic visual management (visualisation + feedback loops), and then experience the dramatic effect of adding work-in-progress limits to create working kanban systems. It’s also possible to add in metrics (there are instructions included for that already) or to connect multiple systems together (sorry, you’re on your own there). It should be easy to add other elements too; I would recommend that you introduce those in later rounds of the game.

For the second round, a WIP limit of 3 works well for teams of 5-6. If there are 4 or more items in the third column you could increase the limit for larger teams, but I wouldn’t go higher than 4. Use your judgement, and of course the same applies to smaller teams (set the limit too low, and blockers will dominate).

When time is limited, turn the metrics round into an exercise of the imagination. Have some outputs pre-prepared.

blah

30 sheets of 300gsm A3, pens and stickies

In terms of materials, it requires a simple four-column board and a good supply of suitably-sized sticky notes. I’m taking with me to Belfast and Edinburgh some boards ready-printed on A3 card (but a hand-drawn flipchart works fine too) and some small (51mm x 38mm) sticky notes. For the first ever run, we huddled around a sheet of A4 paper in the retreat’s lounge, and the rules evolved as we played. Cozy!

In the Edinburgh session on STATIK especially, we will even use Featureban to illustrate the change process in action. It’s all part of my preparations for a new 1-day exec-level class that gives exposure to everything I have come to regard as “first class” elements of the Kanban Method (principles, practices, values, agendas, the Kanban lens, STATIK, etc) . If your organisation is based in or within easy reach of the UK and would like to host an early version of such a class, drop me a line. (No, I’m not ready to schedule public classes just yet, and when I do, it may be in partnership with other LKU members.)

Following the very positive feedback I received on releasing the Kanban Values Exercise under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, I’m doing the same with Featureban, with the PDFs downloadable here.

Ping me at mike@djaa.com if you’d like to get hold of the original PowerPoint files. The same license applies to these files too but it’s really nice when people let me know what they’re doing with them. For example, I know that Ruben Olsen (@RubenOlsen) is already working a Norwegian translation.

Thanks to Ruben and to Jose Casal (@jose_casal) for their feedback on previous iterations.

Servant Leadership #quote

Leaders are those who are followed or emulated because they possess the ability, experience, or knowledge necessary for achieving the objective that is pursued, valued or required by others. Thus a leader is in a position of serving others by providing the guidance and direction necessary for a particular outcome or result.

Dallas Willard and Gary Black Jr
The Divine Conspiracy Continued (HarperOne, 2014)

Declaring STATIK a success

Back in March, I published STATIK, Kanban’s hidden gem, giving the acronym STATIK to the relatively unnoticed “Systems Thinking Approach To Introducing Kanban”. So began my campaign to make it (the approach, not just the name) a first-class citizen in the Kanban landscape.

The more we use it, the more we find that it resonates, and the more opportunity we have to articulate with our clients its usefulness not only to new implementations, but to existing ones that need a bit of a refresh. In recognition of that, I’ve just blogged on djaa.com site the article Reinvigorating an existing Kanban implementation with STATIK.

As for first-class citizenship, it has recently been incorporated into the LKU curriculum at every level from Foundation upwards. Its component parts were always there, but we didn’t mandate a description of the process as a whole.

Finally, a reminder that Kanban from the Inside comes out in September. Part III will contain the most in-depth description of STATIK available anywhere.