The seventh in a roughly weekly series of short excerpts from my book, Kanban from the Inside.
A Pattern for Purposeful Change
Let’s make the understanding principle more concrete:
FP1 (expanded): Start with what you do now, understanding
- The purpose of the system
- How it serves the customer
- How it works for those inside the system
- How it leaves customers dissatisfied and workers frustrated
- How it can be changed safely
This contains practice as well as principle—it’s actually a highly distilled summary of STATIK , the implementation approach described in Part III. It works both for Kanban’s initial introduction and for subsequent changes.
Understanding the purpose of the system takes us from what we do now to why we serve our customers in the way we do. For my former team in Budapest, it took us from “We build and support energy risk-management systems” to “We build and support the systems that enable our company to help our customers manage their energy risks.” For a team that would struggle to get past “We are software developers” (and we definitely weren’t one of those), understanding purpose could be a big step.
We take the dissatisfactions and frustrations as indications either that there are obstacles preventing the system’s purpose from being fulfilled, or that we don’t yet understand that purpose well enough. Acknowledging them, their possible root causes, and their effects is a key first step toward making impactful change.