Kevin Sivic
Kevin Sivic

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.

  • Test Driven Development creates a seconds long feedback loop to help us better understand our business logic and learn immediately whether the code changes we make have the intended effect.
  • Scrum creates an opportunity to learn whether we are creating the right product at the right time at least once per sprint when we create and deliver our Product Increment to our customers.
  • Daily coordination meetings or scrums enable us to talk to each other about what we have learned over the past day and how we’re going to apply that learning to continue moving our work forward in the next day.

Learning in Kanban

As a Kanban practitioner and trainer this focus on learning is at the core of everything we do.

  • We work in the smallest chunks we can and focus on getting them done quickly through managing WIP because we know that getting those pieces of work done and delivered will give us an opportunity to learn whether we are doing the right things.
  • We focus on getting as many of those chunks done as we can by increasing throughput because we want to learn about as many things as we can.
  • Finally, we make sure that as many of those pieces of work as possible represent value to someone outside of our team because we know that properly supporting those customers and stakeholders is our team’s reason for existing and learning from delivering to them is the only way to know how well we are supporting them.

Conclusion

The third (and in my view most important) practice of Kanban is to Improve the Workflow. When considering how to improve your workflow focus on how you can improve the flow of learning through your team.

The title of this post comes from Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup. Eric’s focus was on team’s fighting for their very existence in the startup world but the lessons he discusses can create revolutionary teams across all industries. By focusing on learning about more things and constantly finding ways to learn about them faster you can create the opportunity to provide breakthrough support for your customers and stakeholders and revolutionize the way your organization does business.