A couple of weeks ago, I posted about trying Kanban techniques to everyday life in the hopes that I’d be more productive and achieve more output by focusing on less things at once. I have to confess that this was an ambitious quest, one for which I was ill prepared. I attended a Kanban for software development workshop and figured that it should (and probably could) be an easy task to apply the principles to my daily routine – kind of like thinking that a silver bullet found on the street would change my life.
It wasn’t so easy. I had my list of how I’d start using Kanban that week, and focused on the principles of flow and limiting WIP (work-in-progress). As I continued to research Kanban (did I put the cart before the horse?), I discovered that I really needed to start with a routine or a standardized process. And that’s not how I my days go today.
First of all, as an entrepreneur who works out of a home office with tons of email to digest every day and no set schedule (unless I am working at a client site in which case there is a structured routine), the discipline of Kanban was something that I hadn’t really examined.
Secondly, as a veteran multitasker (I’ve got 6 windows open now), it was going to take some major structural changes to adopt the Kanban principles. Yes, I realize that multi-tasking may impede maximum productivity but it works for me at this point with my business.
And, thirdly, when I am working on tasks alone (I am an independent consultant) there isn’t problem with bottlenecks like there is when working in a pipeline with teams and dependencies. I could easily see how Kanban could simplify my workload when I had employees in my business, balanced with small children and a husband in the household (in other words a teaming environment).
The experiment, however short, was not without its merits. I realized that by taking closer notes on what I was doing from day-to-day I started to prioritize the incoming tasks with more rigor, and focused on the important few things instead of the many trivial tasks. I also realized that as a creative person, the multi-tasking works well for me.
I also appreciate that there are great benefits to be gained from Kanban principles when working in a team environment rife with changing priorities and moving targets, project budgets and customers awaiting software delivery. If you are working in a team environment and finding bottlenecks and workflow challenges (nothing seems to get done on time, there’s too much rework, and too many interruptions) then I’d urge you to check out Kanban for your workplace. The costs of training are far outweighed by increased productivity and increased team morale (did you know the number one source of workplace conflict is lack of good process?)
Consult one of our own U.S. experts for Kanban training (I’d recommend my instructor and mentor David Anderson) – and let me know your results. I’m willing to bet that your teams will performance better, your customer loyalty goes up, and your professionals are happier.
While my own personal encounters with Kanban are premature – it’s the nature of my days and my work that rendered the method not perfect for me – but in the process, I am surprised that more businesses, not-for-profits and general corporations are not yet using Kanban. It’s the perfect, common-sense approach to simplifying your workflows and making work, well work.
Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.