This is from my current session on Kanban fundamentals, to explain how we prioritise different types of work, based on the relative cost of delay. We agree classes of service with our customers, make the ground rules (Policies) clear and explicit, and use them to manage the flow of work through the Kanban system. We also periodically review the classes of service with our customers as clarity emerges from the Kanban system itself.
I’d just started coaching a new client organisation and the very first team I was working with were taking their initial steps in Lean/Kanban.
They were starting to visualise the work, an embryonic backlog was emerging, and they’d had their first standups.
We talked about visualising blockers and impediments on the team board, in order to ensure all the team members knew about them and could offer help to resolve them.
One impediment that was evident after just a couple of days was that there was no simple way of creating a collaboration space for sharing documents across the team.
Those documents formed an important piece of research within this team’s remit. The reason was that some team members were consultants from an outside supplier, and they didn’t have access to the corporate network. It was already causing delay, waste and duplication of effort to multiple individuals.
Yet the team didn’t consider getting that impediment up on the team board. Why? Probably because “that’s just how things are here” and because it wasn’t something the team could resolve themselves, and the impression was that it just couldn’t be solved.
“that’s just how things are here”
Maybe that was true right then for the team. Yet this impediment will create delay, waste and duplication of effort in any project or piece of work that involves external suppliers collaborating effectively with staff.
Jumping forward into the future, if the same impediment appears on many team boards, therefore appears on Programme boards, and percolates up to be visible on the portfolio board that is used by the Senior Leaders in the company, the true impact of this issue becomes transparent and impossible to ignore. Resolving it will improve flow across many areas of the business.
But until those little impediment markers start appearing on team boards, it will always be “just how things are here”.