How to Run Effective Standups and Retrospectives

Standup

Step three of The Kanban Roadmap: How to Get Started in 5 Steps

As a systems-thinking methodology, Kanban calls for team members to take collective responsibility for team priorities. Rich conversations about the work are a must-have. They help the team discover bottlenecks, resolve issues, focus on flow, and continuously improve their process. To facilitate these discussions, teams often adopt standups and retrospectives.

  • Standups receive their name because teams meet while standing, rather than sitting, when gathered around their Kanban board. Standing encourages brevity and staying on task.
  • Retrospectives are held on a regular basis, whether weekly, bimonthly, or monthly. They give the team a focused opportunity to evaluate the health of the system, make adjustments, and devise experiments.

When implemented effectively, standups and retrospectives are powerful tools for teams that seek transparency and open collaboration. Without targeted discussion, however, standups can morph into what’s-on-my-schedule recitations, and retrospectives can turn into personnel critiques. The next two activities will help keep your team focused on the work and the process, while laying the groundwork for a team culture of continuous improvement.

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What is Flow and Why it Matters

Improve Your Flow

by Chris Hefley, CEO

Flow means to “move along in a steady, continuous stream.” In knowledge work, the ability to visualize and manage your flow is essential to achieving faster and more consistent delivery. It allows you to understand your capacity, easily identify problems and improve that flow.

In a system designed to manage the flow of tangible deliverables, such as a car assembly line, it’s relatively easy to see where bottlenecks are forming and slowing down progress. For knowledge work, flow problems aren’t quite as easy to see. This is a major reason we use Kanban boards to visualize our work.

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June 12 Service Interruption Update

As most of you are aware, on Wednesday, June 12, we experienced an unplanned outage between the hours of 10:56 a.m. CDT (GMT-6) and 1:32 p.m. CDT (GMT-6). It is always our goal to provide uninterrupted service, and we sincerely regret the incident. Our CTO, Stephen Franklin, and I want to assure you that the LeanKit team takes the service of our customers very seriously.

The root cause of the interruption on Wednesday was a major service outage affecting our hosting provider’s Chicago and Dallas data centers. Full details can be found here. (I expect that more information will be added as their research of the outage continues.)

Throughout the incident, we were in constant contact with our hosting provider. As a result, we were able to restore service for LeanKit customers about three hours before our hosting provider fully resolved their network outage. At no time was there any risk of customer data loss; only network connectivity was affected.

Regardless of the root cause of the service interruption, we believe it is our responsibility to ensure system availability. We are currently taking steps to ensure that this particular type of service interruption is not repeated. As we continue to develop our infrastructure and disaster recovery capabilities, we will keep you up to date here, on our blog.

Again, Stephen and I will take every step to ensure that this type of service interruption is not repeated. Please do not hesitate to contact Stephen (stephen.franklin@leankit.com) or me (chris.hefley@leankit.com) at any time. We welcome your direct feedback and questions.

Chris Hefley
CEO
LeanKit, Inc.
chris.hefley@leankit.com

Lean as an Organizational Learning System

Please join our partners at the Lean Software Institute for their next webinar, “Lean as an Organizational Learning System” on October 4

About the webinar:

We all admire companies like Toyota and Apple that really care about innovation and the relentless pursuit of perfection – and pull it off! That pursuit is of course never-ending, as customers expect more and as competitors continue to improve. As David Allen likes to say, “The better you get, the better you’d better get!”

But how?

None of these approaches are sufficient in themselves, however, because they don’t explain how an organization actually DOES to get better. What are the actual processes than need to be in place? What are the biggest practical challenges? How do we track progress?

In this webinar we will discuss how Lean Management can help software executives mobilize their employees and managers to learn faster than the competition and deliver more value faster to customers and shareholders.

Register here

Beyond Kanban: Lean as an Operating System

Our partners at the Lean Software Institute have just announced their new webinar series, “Fit for the Future: Lean and the Software Industry“, and have invited us to join them in presenting the first installment, “Beyond Kanban: Lean as an Operating System“.

When
September 7, 2011, 10:00 PST / 13:00 EST  / 19:00 CET
Duration: One hour
Webinar Overview
Many organizations in the IT industry struggle with slow execution and lack of operational clarity.  Call it “the fog of business.”  The problem becomes worse as product and business complexity increases, because traditional management practices have not kept up with the complexity of modern knowledge work.
Lean Management has the potential to create organization-wide clarity. Unfortunately, Lean practitioners in the IT sector have generally not used Lean practices to provide a unified description of the organization as a whole. Also, merely looking at processes does not account for other key obstacles to performance, such as organizational misalignment, unhealthy work cultures, and poor knowledge management.
In this webinar we will discuss how to go beyond Value Stream Mapping and Kanban Boards to create a representation of a business as a “system of systems”.  You will learn about the Lean Software Institute’s five-dimensional model for describing business systems, including Product Development Systems.  We show how this model can provide breakthrough insights into why organizations encounter performance challenges.
Audience
This webinar series is aimed at CXOs and other senior executives in the IT industry who are attempting to improve their organizations’ productivity, accelerate innovation, enhance financial performance, and improve employee engagement.
Presenter
Frode L. Odegard, Founder & CEO, Lean Software Institute
Guest
Chris Hefley, Co-Founder & CEO, LeanKitKanban
(see this interview that we did with Chris in 2010)

When

September 7, 2011, 10:00 PST / 13:00 EST  / 19:00 CET
Duration: One hour

Register Now

Webinar Overview

In this webinar we will discuss how to go beyond Value Stream Mapping and Kanban Boards to create a representation of a business as a “system of systems”.  You will learn about the Lean Software Institute’s five-dimensional model for describing business systems, including Product Development Systems.  We show how this model can provide breakthrough insights into why organizations encounter performance challenges.

Audience

This webinar series is aimed at CXOs and other senior executives in the IT industry who are attempting to improve their organizations’ productivity, accelerate innovation, enhance financial performance, and improve employee engagement.

Presenter

Frode L. Odegard, Founder & CEO, Lean Software Institute

Guest

Chris Hefley, Co-Founder & CEO, LeanKitKanban

LeanKit at DevLink

Are you a software developer, devops, agile coach, or IT project manager in the Southeastern U.S.? If so, you should definitely head down to Chattanooga, TN this week, for DevLink 2011. For the past several years, DevLink has consistently been the one of the very best regional IT/software conferences in the country.

The LeanKit crew will be there, showing off our agile project management tool, LeanKit Kanban, on our big touchscreen and talking about Kanban in the Open Spaces. Stop by and see us, or come by the Open Spaces to learn more about Kanban.

LeanKit is also hiring in 2011 and 2012 – so if you’re a developer, agile coach, project manager, devops guy/gal in the area we’d like to meet you. If you’ve ever wanted to work for a cutting-edge startup company, but don’t want to pick up and move to Silicon Valley to do it, then LeanKit may just be the place for you.