Thursday, February 17, 2011

Irksome Kanban : Why Agile Teams Perform and Deliver

Kanban can be a pain for sub-optimal teams, because of the meticulous and instant way of letting everyone know of availability to take on a job and weighing in of task queue.

Project plans, Status reports, Driving deliveries by Numbers are all a purview of management teams. However, when they are handed down to the floor, they are instructions and tasks with deadlines. This leaves a lot of undesirable communication gaps, narrow focus to work, dependencies are uncared for, and it becomes a single person responsibility: The Project Manager.

A thriving team needs to be well orchestrated by the Project Manager. The members need to sync with each other  to create a symphony. Disenchantment, Attrition, clueless wanderings, and side goals all make a manager job heavy on any given day.

Kanban is a simple system to keep track of work in hand vs work in pipeline. This is easier to tackle bottlenecks and focus on the critical path in the chain of delivery. Prioritization is transparent and tradeoffs are well received. It leaves less ambiguity with teams working on improving products, projects and hence enables customer satisfaction.

Since the Kanban system exposes hidden vulnerabilities that otherwise are often hid behind a facade to showcase the best in management reports, it is irksome tool to review every time. Exposing details will make the teams and stakeholders to face each other realities and address problems on a daily basis. SCRUM documents these issues that are uncovered in Kanban in its Impediment Log.

Impediment Log is an Actionable Report. Kanban is a velocity indicator. Any hidden abnormalities surfacing on an immediate and daily basis triggers actions and reactions throughout teams that gives strength to ask for support and help from the project ecosystem. Be it asking for more time from client, informing the client of added tasks and measuring change impact, enabling managers to take sound resourcing decisions, Optimizing and prioritizing work load than over-loading teams to perform, diligent watch on quality as they move through the queue and control build up of just enough inventory to manage and care for project completion with all-round satisfaction, Kanban board is a great visualization tool.

And without this discomfort and getting irked with uncovering and solving impediments while moving through the chart, it is always difficult to motivate, drive energy and make deliveries consistently and in an optimum quality thread.

How has Kanban boards helped you ? Would like to hear your comments.

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