: July 2012
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Our Regional Startegy for Kanban in Europe
Last year, Lean Kanban University started to develop a regional strategy for raising awareness of Kanban within Europe. It had become evident that Europeans prefer to attend events within their own language region and that demand for basic information, case studies and access to experts on Kanban was growing across the whole continent. As travel budgets tightened and tolerance for travel outside the language or cultural region was low, the best way to serve the growing demand was to create a series of regional events.
2012 Lean Kanban European Conferences
In 2011, there was Lean Kanban Benelux (in Antwerp) and Central Europe (in Munich). This year there will be a total of four Lean Kanban conferences in Europe. The first was Southern Europe held in Madrid in May. In October there will be a series of three events: France in Paris; Central Europe in Vienna; and Netherlands in Utrecht.
Each event is unique. Each has its own call for papers, and the Paris event has a French language track. However, there are a significant number of shared speakers from overseas including key note speakers like Donald Reinertsen, David Joyce and me (David J. Anderson). The concept is provide high quality content from globally recognized speakers as well as superior regional content. Hence, the best strategy will generally be to attend the event being held in your own region.
For those from Scandinavia or the UK, you are spoiled for choice. Any one of these events offers great value. My personal preference is for Netherlands but choose the dates and times that work best for you. For those who cannot travel out of the Nordic region, we hope in the near future to announce a conference in Stockholm to take place in February 2013. I’m still looking for someone interested in organizing a UK-based conference in 2013. Contact me if you might be interested.
It’s not too late to participate as a speaker. The call for papers at Lean Kanban Netherlands is still open. The program committee is chaired by Olav Maassen, together with Lilian Nijboer, Maarten Hoppen, Patrick Steyaert and me. We’re looking for case studies of Kanban implementations as well as presentations that show use of other Lean ideas such as A3 Thinking, and synthesis of models from other fields such as risk management. Don’t miss out! Get your submission in before mid-August!
Sponsors, did you know it is possible to sponsor all three events as a package deal? Alternatively, you can choose to sponsor just one or two of the events. Contact event organizers for details.
Registration is open…
Register now for Lean Kanban Central Europe, 22-23 Oct
Register for updates…
Keep me informed about Lean Kanban France, 18-19 Oct
Keep me informed about Lean Kanban Netherlands, 25-26 Oct
Posted by david on 07/31 at 07:58 PM
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Tolerance #3 - Are we doing Kanban or not?
Returning to my series of posts on tolerance and variation after a 3 month break, I’d like to examine a question I’m often asked, “Are we doing Kanban or not?”
Such a question can have several possible roots. It might be a tribal question seeking reassurance of worthiness to be a member of the Kanban community. It may be asked in a management context seeking reassurance on expectations for improvements that might be observed. It might be a pre-cursor to seeking training or consulting. It may simply be asked to confirm understanding of the method or clarification of its definition. Regardless of the motive, the benchmark is generally the definition of core practices I provided in chapter 2 of Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business.
Core Practices in the Kanban Method
The core practices (recently expanded to explicitly articulate a 6th) are:
- Limit WIP
- Manage Flow
- Make Policies Explicit
- Implement Feedback Loops
- Improve Collaboratively, Evolve Experimentally (using models and the scientific method)
Together these 6 practices have been observed in organizations that have successfully adopted a Kaizen Culture catalyzed through the use of virtual kanban systems. It is this combination that gives us the Kanban Method, named for its catalyst mechanism, the adoption of virtual kanban systems.
Do we need to do all six?
So the question has been, “Do we have to be doing all 6 in order to be doing Kanban?” Or in some cases, “We are only visualizing, are we still doing Kanban?” or, “We are only limiting WIP, are we still doing Kanban?”
My response has always been that it is a matter of intent, not merely practices observed, and that the answer is never a binary, black and white, yes or no. An assessment of “Are we doing Kanban?” is a matter of depth. With this I have set the expectation that shallow implementations are likely to produce limited results, while deeper implementations are likely to produce more dramatic results similar to those that I and others have reported at a series of conferences since 2007.
Over time since 2009, I have played with the wording of these practices and the general theme has been one of removing specifics and moving towards a more general looser definition. Hence, “visualize workflow” has become simply “visualize” as the general problem is making invisible work visible. It is about more than just workflow. “Measure and Manage Flow” simply became “Manage Flow” as measurement could be deemed to be an optional, higher maturity behavior.
What has remained a constant since 2009, is “Limit WIP”. Despite the Kanban Method being named for the use of virtual kanban systems, the advice has always been merely to limit WIP, not to implement a virtual kanban system. This was inspired by Corey Ladas’ discovery in 2007 that any pull system is likely to act as the catalyst to improvement: kanban, drum-buffer-rope, CONWIP and CapWIP systems are all viable alternatives.
The advice to Limit WIP has been shown to be inspired. Merely limiting WIP rather than implementing a kanban system has provided permission for simpler solutions such as Personal Kanban. The general advice to Limit WIP also enable solutions that merely control multi-tasking such as a per person WIP limit, or limits only to the “in-progress” work in a workflow. In such system designs, the “done” columns in the workflow have infinite limits. They are effectively chains of decoupled “personal kanban in the office” systems. Richard Turner has coined the term “Proto-Kanban” to describe these solutions that do not implement an end-to-end pull system.
So are they doing Kanban or not?
I think the loose definition of Kanban practices has proven to be a strength rather than a weakness. It has enabled shallow solutions that work well in lower maturity organizations. Merely “limiting WIP” provides a lower barrier to entry. We’ve seen numerous case studies emerge where the initial step was a proto-kanban and that initial stage lasted for 9 to 12 months before the organization was ready to take a step up and implement a full virtual kanban system and develop a deeper Kanban implementation. If the barrier to entry was defined as “implement a virtual kanban system” then many organizations would give up before they even got started. This would have denied these businesses significant improvements and the workforce genuine relief from challenging circumstances.
So, my conclusion is that doing Kanban is a matter of intent. If the intent is ultimately to evolve an existing process implementation by adding a full end-to-end virtual kanban system and then evolve further from there but for now all you are doing is some visualization and a per person limit to control multi-tasking and personal overburdening, then yes, you are doing Kanban. If on the other hand, you’ve created a card wall to visualize your work and facilitate collaboration but no intent to pursue the grander benefits of Kanban as a method that controls unevenness in flow, eliminates overburdening, provides a platform to better manage business risk in knowledge work, and catalyzes emergence of a continuous improvement culture, then you are not doing Kanban.
Measuring Depth of Kanban
As Mike Burrows explained in Back from #KLRAT Hakan Forss questioned whether or not the core practices were in the right order from a shallow to deep perspective. The following discussion showed us via various anecdotes that the shallow to deep sequencing of practices could not be predicted. This led to a new model appearing - see the linked presentation “How Deep is Your Kanban?” This represents some of the bleeding edge innovation in the Kanban community. There is some hope that this work will mature into a model for Kanban adoption and maturity. For now it suffices to provide a visualization for the depth of a Kanban implementation.
Posted by david on 07/29 at 10:27 AM
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Advanced Kanban Masterclass Stockholm, Sweden- Sept 12-14, 2012 **NEW LOCATION**
RELOCATED FROM BERLIN TO STOCKHOLM
This 3-day masterclass for advanced Kanban practitioners, consultants, coaches, change agents and managers with pioneer of Kanban, David J. Anderson is limited to just 12 people.
This workshop is for anyone tasked with leading a change initiative in their organization or at a client organization in 2012. It is suitable for managers, process engineers, change agents, experienced Agile, Lean, or project management coaches and consultants. Existing Kanban practitioners with 1 year of experience, or those who have previously taken an accredited 2-day Kanban class and are actively using Kanban at work are welcome. Attendees are expected to be familiar with the content of the book, “Kanban - Successful Evolutionary Change for your Technology Business.
Kanban takes a cultural approach to capability, performance and organizational performance. These intensive 3 day workshops are intended to transfer the knowledge and skills to enable you to lead Lean transformations using the Kanban Method. This is your opportunity to get your hard questions answered by the founder of the method and to develop deep ties in the community and network with fellow practitioners. All attendees will receive an automatic invitation to the next Kanban Leadership Retreat, 2-day open space conference.
4000 USD per person
EARLY BIRD SPECIAL 3000 USD per person automatically applied through August 5, 2012!
A copy of the book will be supplied upon registration. Attendees will maximize the value if they are already familiar with the material.
The intent is to have an interactive collaborative session designed to facilitate knowledge sharing and learning. Attendees should come prepared to discuss their own experiences with Kanban and challenging situations they’ve faced with change initiatives at clients or employers
The workshop will open with a round table of introductions and shared Kanban experience. Each participant will be asked for a list of questions they’d like answered over the 3 day session and from this a topic backlog will be built. David will augment this backlog with essential topics and foundational material. The agenda for the remaining time will then be set to insure the fullest of coverage and the maximum value for all participants. The focus will be on shared experience and discussion of the hard questions that clients and team members ask coaches during the introduction of Lean ideas through the use of a kanban pull system. The workshop will include the use of the GetKanban game simulation and discussion of its value as a teaching aid.
The goal is to enable participants to go back into the field and successfully coach Agile/Lean transitions using the Kanban approach. Every workshop is different because of the unique experiences of each participant and their specific focus and desired outcomes. Each participant will received a personal recommendation from David J. Anderson as a result of participating in the class.
Kanban offers agile and project management coaches another tool in their transformation and coaching toolbox. Kanban is proving to be a facilitator of evolutionary change with low resistance and an enabler of accelerated high levels of organizational maturity.
Location: Stockholm, SWEDEN
Venue Regus at Stureplan 4c, vån. 4, 114 35 Stockholm, 10 minutes from Stockholm Central Station
Posted by david on 07/19 at 11:00 AM
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Reducing Variability for Improved Competitiveness
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a short blog post like this one. Such stories used to be common in the early days of this blog. Many of those are captured, freshly updated, copy edited and embellished with contemporary commentary in my new book, Lessons in Agile Management. This new post inspired by a story on the BBC today, gives you a taste of what’s hidden in the archives.
I have some friends and former clients who race open wheel race cars on Sunday afternoons. Over dinner one night a couple of years ago, they told me of their admiration for Ross Brawn as a leader, a manager and a systems thinker. They predicted that it wouldn’t be long before Brawn’s new team, Mercedes, was competing at the front of the grid. This season Mercedes under Brawn’s leadership has begun to show signs of that promise. In Results too Up and Down, Brawn shows that he, like so many senior executives, values level of performance but also values consistency in performance. Executives want variability in results reduced. They want to be able to deliver predictably. Predictability enables senior executives to set appropriate expectations for all stakeholders. In this case, fans, sponsors, investors, owners, and those working for the team itself.
People following my work over the past decade have been adopting the use of run charts and SPC to examine the capability of their teams ability to make software and perform IT work. Plotting quantity of work-in-progress, completion rate of work (a.k.a. velocity or throughput) and lead times, in run charts and annotating them with a mean and a spread of variation above and below the mean, is a way of understanding capability. With such a visualization, managers and team members can start to correlate behavior and activities with observed capability. Process changes can be introduced to narrow the spread of variability - improving predictability - and/or to increase the mean in the observed data.
It’s clear from this article that Ross Brawn continues to be unhappy with the mean performance of his Mercedes team. He’d like to see them finishing closer to the front and in higher places. He’d also like to see greater consistency between the two cars (and drivers) in each race, and he’d like to see the spread of variation in performance (everything from 1st to 15th place) being narrowed.
What this article tantalizes me with is the question, “Exactly how are they going to do that?” Challenging the team with the observed capability data is one thing, but how does it inspire them? What conversations are taking place at the Mercedes team factor in Brackley in England to help them move the needle and deliver a higher level of performance with greater consistency?
Brawn shows us through the peek hole of this interview that he’s running a highly mature organization that values high maturity behavior such as studying quantitative data and using it to direct process improvement. Formula One is a highly competitive sport. The winning teams tend to be the those that exhibit the highest maturity organizational behaviors and have the most tolerant, patient, objective managers. While innovation in car design and passionate and talented drivers are important, the teams that have shown the highest consistency of performance in the sport over the past 50 years, have tended to be those with the highest maturity organizations and the most patient managers. So how many more seasons before Mercedes win a driver’s or manufacturer’s World Championship?
Posted by david on 07/15 at 03:12 PM
Monday, July 09, 2012
Why I resigned from the board of the Lean Systems Society
Yesterday Alan Shalloway and I resigned from the board of the Lean Systems Society. Doubtless Alan will want make his own public statement about his reasons for resigning so I won’t speak for him. I do, however, feel I should share my own reasons with the community.
At my 2009, Lean & Kanban conference, in Miami, a group of interested parties met and formed the Lean Software & Systems Consortium. Amongst many goals, the consortium envisaged building a body of knowledge for Lean in knowledge work activities, standards, curriculum and some form of certification or accreditation for those taking Lean (and Kanban) training. However, few organizations joined the consortium. Initially it was my own firm, Alan’s firm and Indigo Blue in the UK. Rally paid a membership fee and joined for one year. The board was made up mainly of people from my own firm, as well as Net Objectives and Rally with Donald Reinertsen, Jim Sutton and later Rich Turner replacing Don. All the work for the organization was done by staff of my own firm and those of Net Objectives with a not insignificant contribution from Karl Scotland (of Conchango and later Rally.) No other firms were willing to join the consortium or pay membership fees. A program initiative involving Kanban software tool vendors to develop some standards failed to gain full traction and hasn’t established anything of value. Those vendors did not join the consortium as members. This was in part due to their financial positions at the time. The only truly viable program within LSSC was the conference series within the United States that was ultimately run and bankrolled by my own firm. The Limited WIP Society which the LSS lays claim to was started by Rob Hathaway, of Indigo Blue, Karl Scotland, Janice Linden-Reed and I. It has been a considerable success mostly through the incredible efforts of Janice and to some extend Karl over the past 3 years. I’d go as far as to say the Limited WIP Society has thrived despite the LSSC rather than because of it. It is, however, one of the notable successes. It was fair to say that by April 2012 the board had concluded that the business model of the Consortium had failed and that it was time for a change of direction.
In April 2012, a month prior to the 2012 conference in Boston, a board meeting was held at Janice Linden-Reed’s home in Seattle. During this board meeting it was decided that the organization needed a fresh start - a new name and a new charter. The Lean System Society was born. The name and charter inspired by my suggestion that we model the new organization on the Royal Society. In doing so, the LSS would get out of commercial activities and necessary market development activities that were happening naturally in the market without stimulation or assistance from the LSSC. This would include getting out of the conference business. My firm would continue to run the North American conference returning to the name Lean Kanban North America and falling into line with the other regional events held in Europe.
The LSS would form a fellowship to honor those who have made outstanding contributions to Lean for knowledge work. An initial list of 45 people were selected and invited to join the fellowship. Most of them accepted. A process to nominate future fellows was put in place. The LSS would take charge of the Brickell Key Award to honor recent outstanding achievers and winners would be automatically nominated to the fellowship. I had started the award in 2010 as part of the conference as an initially unilateral decision. Anyone inspecting the trophies awarded to winners will notice that the LSSC was never mentioned on them. The LSSC has however been funding the travel grant awarded to the winners. LSS considers the Brickell Key Award a sufficiently good idea that it wants to adopt it and fund it for the foreseeable future. So the LSS will have 3 initial programs: the fellowship designed to amplify the contribution of fellows; the Brickell Key Award designed to highlight the work of up-and-coming members of our community; and the Limited WIP Society.
Jim Sutton, president of the LSS, announced these changes at the Lean Software & Systems Conference in Boston in May. Phase one of the transition was complete.
Lean Kanban University
In 2011, Alan Shalloway and I launched Lean Kanban University as a web site to highlight and market quality Kanban training (and other Lean knowledge work training that may come later). In November, we expanded this business with 16 charter member firms to develop standards for teaching the Kanban Method including a defined curriculum and an accreditation program for training materials and trainers. Accredited trainers are known as AKT (Accredited Kanban Trainer.) There are now 24 member firms and this number is likely to continue growing. This program was possible because we’d taken it out of LSSC and developed it as a separate commercial entity. However, some legacy remained that the LSSC had been formed originally to develop such a program. The new LSS was not in that business but this was not explicit rather it was inferred by omission.
It was evident, however, that the market didn’t understand the difference between the two organizations and all the branding for both entities at our events was confusing.
Giving LSS Wings
I decided to resign from the LSS board and encouraged Alan to do the same, in order to clearly communicate that Lean Kanban University and Lean Systems Society are two separate organizations with separate goals and purposes.
I believe that after 3 years, it is time for some fresh blood on the LSS board and that new people, with new energy and enthusiasms will help it to thrive and build its own identity and relevance in the market. I consider this move the completion of phase 2 of the transition from LSSC to LSS
What’s next for LSS?
Currently there are two open positions on the board of LSS and the remaining board members are looking to appoint two members from the fellowship to fill these positions. Alan and I will not get any say in the new appointments. It is, however, my desire to see some diversity on the LSS board and I would encourage the board to consider appointing a European and a South American to fill the open positions. And so phase 3 of the transition begins. With the appointment of new board members I believe the transition will be complete and the LSSC will be dead. Long live the Lean Systems Society!
Posted by david on 07/09 at 12:10 PM