Breaking It Down, LeanKit Style

break-it-downWhether you are breakdancing or managing a project, your success is equal to your ability to break it down.  That’s right.  You’ve got to Break Down Your Work.  Break.  It.  Down.  Either by spinning on your head or by accurately planning and scoping your next project so your boss can brag about how fly you are at the next department meeting.

Everyone knows the consequences of NOT breaking it down are wack: missed deadlines, budget overages, unforeseen delays.  Not to mention your street cred around the coffee maker will suffer.

If you’re not sure how to break it down, or you’ve been trying and tripping over your own Adidas, don’t worry.  We’ll teach you how to break down your work, LeanKit style.

Breaking Down Your Work for Visual Management

At LeanKit, we break it down visually.  To manage your work visually, it helps to break down your work into the smallest possible size.

To break down your work, follow these steps:

1. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What steps are necessary to get the project done?

  • What resources and commitments are required from others?

  • How will your project impact other work being done?

By breaking it down, you can get a clear picture of the terrain before you set out.

2. Document each step of your process.  Either write it down, type it in or graffitti it to the side of your building.  Regardless of medium, getting your process on paper (or in pixels) will help you understand your process more fully.  This could be as simple as reflecting your process on a wall full of sticky notes, or uploading your complete project timeline from a spreadsheet into a visual project management tool, like LeanKit.

3. Manage your work by working the board.  After you’ve broken down the work, you don’t have to spend precious energy evaluating and re-evaluating your priorities.  When done properly, your project board will become your beacon of truth.

Benefits of Breaking Down Your Work

When work is properly broken down into ‘bite-sized’ pieces (and these pieces are represented visually using a project board or kanban board), everyone can see all the elements of a work item and understand how they all fit together.  While it seems like a simple change, breaking down work can have a positive impact on the quality of deliverables.  When you make people happy with your work, you feel happy, and the world becomes your urban sidewalk.

Who’s Breaking it Down?

Borrowing from their IT-industry counterparts, non-IT professionals are now finding it possible to get as much, if not more, done in the same amount of time by breaking down their work.  Non-IT professionals include knowledge workers, office managers, project managers, administrative leads, team leads and anyone else who manages team work.

Using visual management, the time and mental energy required to process the ambiguities of a project is reduced.  This makes people happier and more likely to hold more dance-off’s – something the world greatly needs in our opinion.