One big lesson learned at Kanban Masterclass in Hamburg this week, feeling a bit naive I haven’t seen it that clearly until now, is the real importance of prioritize to get managment support for implementing Kanban (or any other agile way of working).
As long as you have not introduced your managers and executives to the principles, rules and outcome of Kanban / agile you will stay at proto-Kanban level, where you do see better things happen with your little island of work, but can’t really do so much about the bottlenecks and real issues.
When you’ve got your Kanban board up running, you soon need to find ways and a language which will bring attention from managment.
Recently I’ve been a product owner proxy in a kind of a Kanban team. Our biggest issue, coming up at every retrospective, is the problem of individual work and multi-projects. We see it and do whatever we can to make it better, and it do get a bit better, but we don’t go any further on this.
My top priority for this situation, is now to find a way to get the closest line manager on board. To get her attention on what we’re doing. The line manager seldom care about ”Kanban”, ”Agile”, ”our development process” or whatever. She cares about predictability and fast moving business. How to get her to visit a demo and talk about these issues?
Prepare next demo to focus on presenting stuff that she, the manager, would care about. Not the details in what little features we have implemented last 2 weeks, rather do an ambitious preperation for next demo, with all parts of the team to get to speak.
- what have we accomplished last few months?
- What bottlenecks do we have?
- What is the estimated cost for business because of these bottlenecks and impediments? (qualitative or quantitive)
- What stops high priority marketable features to release at a higher pace?
- What good things have happened for us by limiting work in progress in the area the team control?
- What even better things will happen if management would limit multi-projects and go for team work?
- What would be the necessary changes in current organization of work to make that happen?
- Suggestions and dialogue with managment – with an 1-2 improvement step plan to take with support from manager.
You might have other issues reappearing every week. Is it time to now put an extra effort to involve managment?
That will mean to go out of the comfort zone and take on the shoes of the manager, show some empathy to understand what she needs and really care about, in stead of what I care about.
It would be much more simple to just run another internal team demo with the product owner.
Is it worth it?