Monday, March 9, 2015

Kanban for the kitchen table

This is a "me too" story: Kanban for the kitchen table.

Dana Rousmaniere and Frank Saucier collaborate in an interview to talk about kanban methods for the home. And, of course, it's all built around a kitchen table white board with some sticky notes.

Have you done this at home? I have; and it works... you wouldn't expect otherwise.

But, Frank carries it a bit further than I want to go. He has structured family meetings with a checklist agenda, and then daily check-ins on project tasks.  Whoa! that's a bridge too far for my wife ... no micromanagement here. In fact, Frank admits: "There's sometimes some moaning and groaning... "

The larger point
But, of course, there's a larger point here: Almost everything we do, formally or informally structured, as some sequence and flow -- just think about driving to work, or walking in to open your home office at the beginning of the work day (or night)

Flow and process... sequential steps; they are the building blocks of everything

Now, the lean and kanban advocates are all about improving flow, thinning out the non value-add, and simplifying the process so that work flow and work process are pretty much birds of a common feather.

Then comes scale, even in the kitchen
Who can argue with lean? Does anyone really want to do the non-lean stuff, even if they have to? No one so long as the work flow on the kanban does not require coordination with other kanban's... in that case, we move on to scale, and scale brings overhead, and overhead brings flow control, and so we all slow down.

You don't see this much on the kitchen table, unless your home project is part of a larger project for a community organization -- then comes the bureaucracy of scale.

You might say that velocity and scale have a inverse correlation, perhaps even a causation -- larger scale, lower velocity

Is it too low tech?
"I like to use low-tech tools, because it’s more important to learn good habits than it is to learn to use a tool. That said, there are plenty of digital ways to do the same thing — a good, free tool is Trello, which is essentially an online Kanban board.

But, I find that with digital tools, a lot of great ideas get buried, and the simple act of moving a post-it across a visual board is very kinesthetic. I’ve also noticed that teams have better discussions when they’re around a physical board." Frank
What's the payoff?
With Frank I agree (from personal experience in the kitchen)
  • Get priorities squared away
  • Manage distractions
  • Teach others the tools as a life skill
  • Richer communications

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