My Personal Kanban submission for Agile 2014

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I am happy to announce I submitted a workshop titled  “At home and work, how to get more stuff done. An introduction to Personal Kanban“.  After asking people to provide comments, I was informed that the submission wasn’t viewable. It looks like you need to be logged in. Go figure.

Submitted: Tue, 2014-01-14 01:40 Updated: Tue, 2014-01-14 01:43
Presenter: Derek Huether
Track: Learning Session Type: Workshop Audience Level: Learning
Room Setup: Rounds Duration: 75 minutes
Keywords: Learning, Process, kanban, flow, personal, WIP, Personal_Agility, process improvement

Abstract:

With a world of constant distraction, it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to get stuff done, regardless if it’s on a personal or organizational level. At some point, we’ve been sold the lie that multitasking is great and maximum utilization is even better. If we all drank the Kool-Aid, why are we doing more and getting less done? If there were a relatively simple way for you to get more stuff done, wouldn’t you want to know what it was? If there were a way for you to measure and improve your processes over time, wouldn’t you want to know how to do that as well? When getting stuff done is a primary measure for success, we need to introduce people to concepts that are simple but can be leveraged at scale.

In this session, participants will be introduced to the principles of Lean and the application of Kanban to visualize their personal work, limit distraction and waste, and get stuff done. I’ll cover the core concepts outlined in Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry’s book, Personal Kanban, to get you started. I’ll talk about how Kanban can be applied to everyday work and why you should do it.

Through my years of struggling with ADD/ADHD and my years of management, leadership, and coaching, I have learned and applied Personal Kanban techniques in my everyday life and Lean Kanban at both government and private organizations. This is your opportunity to experience what I am like after a few cups of coffee and for you to learn a few simple strategies that you can start using before you even leave Agile 2014. This workshop can help you map your work and navigate your life.

Information for Review Team:

My first blog post about my Personal Kanban story happened in August of 2009.
Since that time, I have evangelized the use of Personal Kanban for people who had tried everything from To-Do lists to Franklin Covey Planners to GTD, with little or no success. It gives me a profound amount of joy sharing this information to people ranging from parents who struggle to get their kids to bed to CEOs trying to make sense of a portfolio backlog. This workshop will begin with me telling me story and my challenges of staying focused and getting stuff done. It will conclude with people realizing how easy it is to grasp the basic concepts behind Personal Kanban, benefit from them, and then tell others.

Logistics:

Each table will have 3 sheets of 25 x 30″ easel pad paper with pre-designed Kanban boards, a stack of index cards with different (effort) activities listed and predetermined values. (Writing what teams will be asked to do would spoil the surprise but I promise we’ll have some fun) I will explain to everyone how a Personal Kanban works. Each 10-minute practice session is designed to bring to light the daily struggles we may have in completing our work. After each session I will ask how the room would approach their work differently. The expectation is that more work will get done during practice session two and then even more during practice session three, based on what the attendees will learn in the previous sessions and improving their processes.

Agenda:

• Introduction and Overview [10 minutes] • Core Concepts [10 minutes] [20 minutes elapsed] What is the history of Kanban? What’s the difference between Kanban and Personal Kanban, what makes up a Kanban board, how do we design a Personal Kanban board, what is WIP, what is flow?
• Practice [10 minutes] [30 minutes elapsed] Round 1 / Our first board
• Retrospective [5 minutes] [35 minutes elapsed] What worked and what didn’t?
• Practice [10 minutes] [45 minutes elapsed] Round 2 / Our second board design
• Retrospective [5 minutes] [50 minutes elapsed] What worked and what didn’t?
• Practice [10 minutes] [60 minutes elapsed] Round 3 / Our third board design
• Retrospective [5 minutes] [65 minutes elapsed] What worked and what didn’t?
• Conclusion and Questions [10 minutes] [75 minutes elapsed] What did you learn? What were you surprised by? What other questions do you have?

Background Info:

• I have been successfully leveraging Kanban on an organizational level since 2008 and evangelizing Personal Kanban since August 2009.
• Jim and Tonniane’s book, which provides the basis of this session, is widely available. Here is a slide deck on the basics of Personal Kanban: http://www.slideshare.net/ourfounder/personal-kanban-101

Prerequisite Knowledge:

None

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand key definitions and terms of Lean and Kanban
  • Understand how to apply Kanban to your personal and professional life
  • Understand how you can measure and improve your processes

Presentation History:

I have been presenting since 2011, when I appeared at the Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference. I’ve since been a guest at the Work Management Summit in 2011, and then presented at AgileDC in 2011, and 5 Project Management Institute events, including the Project Management Symposium 2012 (Washington DC), PMI Global Congress 2012, PMI Puerto Rico Simposio Anual 2012, Project Management Symposium 2013 (Washington DC), and most recently PMI SoMD Chapter 2013.

A few of my public sessions are available on Slideshare

 

Optimize the Whole

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I know we talk about self-organized and empowered teams being at the heart of agile practices.  But sometime I see that focus from individuals and teams going a little too far.  Sometimes people forget about the big picture.  I believe everything we do needs to map back to organizational visions and goals.  If you can’t do that, what you are doing is wasteful.  For some organizations, everything needs to map back to increasing profits or lowering costs.  But we have to be careful not to fall into the “local optimum” trap.

A local optimum of a combinatorial optimization problem is a solution that is optimal (either maximal or minimal) within a neighboring set of solutions. This is in contrast to a global optimum, which is the optimal solution among all possible solutions. (Thank you Wikipedia)

You can read more about local optimums in the late Eli Goldratt‘s book, The Goal.  To the layman, you should consider activities and efforts that will benefit the organization or process flow as a whole, not necessarily what is best for you or your team.  I know it sounds counter-intuitive but hear me out.

You’ve probably seen this local optimum in action in one way or the other.  If you have a process flow, it’s happened.  With a traditional waterfall application development flow, have you ever had a development team deliver features without any concern of the impact to their QA counterparts or others downstream in the process?  The release is dependent on the other teams but what do they care?  They were very efficient at getting their work done.

Have you ever had that boss who was utterly obsessed with keeping everyone “100%” busy rather then being focused on ensuring the greatest amount of value flowed through the system in the shortest possible time?  Both instances are bringing attention to practices that happen and we just accept them.  One example is focusing too much on the localized efficiency. The other focuses too much on utilization.

My Freeway Analogy

When I get on the freeway, I don’t care that I can go the speed limit for 5 miles out of my 50 mile commute (localized efficiency).  I really don’t care how many cars the freeway can hold (utilization).  What I care about is that I can go as fast as I can for my overall commute.  That should be the goal.

I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes by Eli Goldratt

A system of local optimums is not an optimum system at all

I’m curious if others out there can give me some more examples of local optimums and how they addressed them.  How did you optimize the whole?

 

Image Source: Awesome DC

 

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