My KCE talk on 8th January: Investing in Upstream Flow

I’m speaking on Thursday 8th January at the London Kanban Coaching Exchange on Investing in Upstream Flow: Landscaping a smooth river from idea to execution

It’s great when teams reach delivery maturity with execution at speed and high quality. It’s no surprise that there’s so much emphasis on this because there are still so many people struggling. But it’s important that we don’t just learn how to do the wrong things well.

Organisations need a smoothly functioning upstream system that can take in good ideas from anywhere, triage and decide which get investment. Then safely shepherd and grow them through to adolescence until they are ready to be implemented. This is key to doing the right things well.

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Pure Kanban: Clearing the fog surrounding a simple and highly practical approach

What is Kanban? You’d think the answer would be simple but there’s a fog of definitions out there, many of which confuse and mix-up useful techniques from Agile, Lean and Systems Thinking with Kanban itself.

The result is confusion with people asking themselves: Am I doing Kanban right? If you’re asking that then you’re misinformed on what Kanban is and how to best harness its power. It’s really very very simple.

You’ll find many definitions of Kanban out there, Joseph Hurtado provides a useful summary of alternatives, David Anderson has his own unique definition and there are many other attempts to define it, some solid and others still evolving.

I don’t like many of them much because they tend to overlook theory and jump straight to defining a cobbled-together set of activities, each one somewhat different to the others. They ignore the fact that these activities are just a small subset of many possible activities, practices, techniques that can naturally follow if you understand the simple theory behind Kanban.

Understanding the theory frees you to create your own activities, practices and techniques that may be better suited to your environment than any “standard” ones you are “supposed” to follow because they are some consultant’s or trainer’s preference. That freedom is what Kanban is really about.

Read on for freedom.

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How do you handle Supply Chain Management?

In this Transformation Dialogues video, Ann Blythman interviews me to understand how to handle supply chain management within a service organisation.

I discuss the importance of effective supplier management and how key it is to understand what should be outsourced by properly understanding an organisation’s core competencies.

Through the example of a call centre operation, we explore the risks of badly-managed outsourcing, how to implement a better, more productive approach that is learning-driven and sourcing complete teams from suppliers. Finally, I discuss further symptoms of badly-managed procurement and outsourcing.

I hope you enjoy this video and more that follow soon in the Transformation Dialogues series.

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Prioritisation is key to getting everything that matters done

Many people struggle with an overwhelming workload because there is a lack of prioritisation of work at all levels; everything becomes “top priority” of the week. Strong prioritisation tackles the causes (workload) instead of ineffective traditional strategies that fight the symptoms (time management, training, staff performance management, targets).

“Ok, it’s Monday lunchtime. What’s this week’s crisis then?”

An environment beset with constant firefighting can have many causes, including under-resourcing. But it is amazing how often this situation is internally generated – through a basic lack of structured and sensible prioritisation.

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Kanban or Scrum? Know your constraints before you take the plunge

Many people think that the answer to their problems is to pick an agile approach and use it to deliver their services. In doing this they frequently put the needs of service development ahead of the wider organisation and risk overlooking well-known constraints and context that will trigger failure. Kanban, Scrum and XP each have several key implications which need to be properly understood before taking the plunge.

It is easy to get obsessed with a service development methodology, particularly when everyone’s talking about it. These days everyone is “agile”, or claims to be, and what could be better than a ready-made approach like Scrum or Kanban that is tried and tested and you can take off the shelf?

Whooah! Stop and hold that decision, just for a moment. Before you make a choice that might trap you.

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