Many Kanban teams use classes of service to help model their workflow. We’re going to talk about how they work, where they are valuable and why you should avoid them wherever you can.
I sometimes run across teams that say “we tried kanban and it didn’t work”. When I hear this, I’m always genuinely curious and ask for more details about what they’d done and what specifically didn’t work for them.
One of the more subtle forms of waste is psychological distress. When we are afraid or anxious, our sympathetic nervous system activates to prepare us for one of fight, flight or freeze. All good responses in a survival situation.
In Kanban, we are always trying to optimize for efficiency, effectiveness and predictability. Waste in the system is something that hurts all three of these objectives and is something we want to remove or reduce wherever possible.
Over the past 15 years of working with various agile techniques, practices, frameworks, and strategies I’ve found that there is one thread that ties them all together. They are all focused on improving our ability to learn and to apply that learning to our future work.
This post is aimed at a fairly niche audience so if you aren’t trying to make sense of poor data out of some ticketing system then you might want to skip this one.
Just about all agile methods have some kind of a daily coordination meeting. It might be called a standup or a daily coordination meeting or a daily scrum or any number of other things. The point is that this meeting is focused on actively managing the workflow and it’s often done poorly.
When starting a team up with Kanban, one of the earliest questions is how to you set initial WIP limits. The simple rules we use are covered in this video.
One of the key practices supporting continuous improvement is making your work, and how you do the work, visible. This starts by tracking the progress of that work in a highly visual way, often by using a kanban board. Once that work is being tracked we can begin to gather that data and start to gain insights into where our biggest opportunities for improvement are, often by using the metrics defined in The Three Flow Metrics (Plus One).
Some of the best indicators of team performance are the flow of both new information into the team and of value out of the team. If we can improve visibility into these indicators, and therefore the opportunities for the team to improve the way they work, it becomes possible for the team to support their organization in ways they couldn’t before. There are three standard metrics that are core to understanding the effectiveness of any flow-based system. The relationship between the three metrics is defined by Little’s Law. When applied to the systems used to enable knowledge work the law is usually restated in terms of Throughput, Work In Progress (WIP), and Cycle Time.