Practicing Lean depends upon fostering a student mentality — recognizing what you don’t know, and approaching the unknown with a curious, humble mind. Whether you’re new to Lean or a seasoned expert, reading about the experiences and practices of others is an excellent way to practice a key Lean concept: continuous improvement. At LeanKit, when people ask us how to learn more about Lean, we often direct them to these excellent Lean books, written by our esteemed colleagues in the Lean community.
Different companies have different cultures, but timesheets are almost universally abhorred by the work force — and yet they continue to stick around. Why? Because timesheets are acutely intertwined with traditional IT budgeting processes. While workers may be peeved at the inconvenience of timesheets, leadership is looking to them to answer vital questions. Questions like:
- How predictable are we — do we consistently deliver value?
- Are we efficient — what is the capacity utilization of the staff?
- Are we straying from our budget — projected cost vs. actual cost?
- Is the headcount and skillset right — does the current staff level serve the organization well?
What is Lean Thinking?
“Lean thinking defines value as providing benefit to the customer; anything else is waste.” — Eric Ries
Testing, like Lean thinking is a mindset. Both are required to achieve a practice of continuous improvement. Consider how you “provide benefit to the customer”. The last work decision you made: was it to prioritize one piece of work over another, change a certain feature, or tweak your marketing messaging? How did you make that decision? And most importantly, how did you know that what you decided is what the customer actually wants?
Testing is the vehicle through which the accumulation of experience, insight, education and the constant reassessment of our assumptions allows us to better understand our target across all facets of their journey, first as a buyer and then a customer. It’s the method of eliminating waste by approaching our work with a curious, humble, and methodical mindset. These three key characteristics power the testing mindset needed to achieve continuous improvement.
This is part of a three-part series on keeping remote teams cohesive. We recommend that you begin with parts 1 (hiring) and 2 (onboarding) before reading this post on communication.
In the final installment of this series, I’ll discuss the importance of effective communication — over-communication, in fact — in remote teams. I’ll share the communication strategies and methods that I’ve seen be most effective for keeping remote teams cohesive.
Recently, a group of my LeanKit coworkers and I were talking Kanban. The age-old debate surrounding the definitions of lead time and cycle time came up, and we all rolled our eyes a bit. The Lean community has rehashed this topic a million times already, but it seems we still can’t seem to reach a consensus. The topic can be confusing to those new to Kanban, and unfailingly frustrates experienced practitioners. In this post, I’ll explain why these definitions are commonly debated. I’ll also explain how a simple definition can help you make the most of these Lean metrics.
In my last post, you learned how hiring for a healthy remote team requires a thorough process, a clear vision, and honest communication. You know how to select great candidates. Now how do you make sure they have what they need to contribute meaningfully to your team?
If you practice Kanban, you already understand the incredible insight that visualization can bring to the way you work. But do you know how to use that insight to optimize your workflow? You might be surprised to learn that you already have all the data you need to begin optimizing flow — you just need to learn a few basic Kanban calculations to turn that raw data into actionable flow metrics.
We asked Dan Vacanti, CEO and co-founder of ActionableAgile and author of Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability, to share his insights on how to use Kanban metrics to optimize flow. In a series of posts, Dan will explain how to harness the power of data in Kanban to help you maximize the value you can bring to your customers.
In this post, you’ll learn the basic metrics of flow, and how to analyze the data your board data to begin optimizing your workflow. In future posts, you’ll learn how to use Kanban calculations to continously improve your process.