Lean Improvement: What to Do When Urgent Trumps Important

lean improvement

Wouldn’t It Be Great If…

In the world of IT Ops, we face a constant tug-of-war between implementing new technology, keeping the lights on, and resolving unplanned issues. In the thick of our work, we’re constantly generating ideas for how to automate, standardize, and improve our processes (i.e., “Wouldn’t it be great if….”). We know that if we could spend less time trying to keep everything afloat, we could spend more time providing value with new technology. We know the importance of  practicing Lean improvement (Kaizen) — but what do you do when urgent trumps important?

Have you ever heard the phrase, “We are too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet”? If we don’t take the time to improve our environment, we’ll constantly face the same tedious challenges — and those challenges will keep growing, creating a mountain of technical debt. If we don’t practice Lean improvement, we’ll never be able to reach the level of sustainability or predictability that would make our lives a whole lot easier.

Luckily, because we visualize our work in LeanKit, we have a place to document our ideas for Lean improvement — which helps us actually do them. Visualizing these ideas alongside our project, maintenance, and break-fix work helps us keep them top of mind, and allows us to find ways to prioritize important improvement work. Keep reading to learn how we balance our Lean improvement efforts with our regular workflow.

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The Myth of Multitasking: Why IT Operations Needs WIP Limits

WIP Limits IT Ops

It may sound hard to believe, but multitasking is an effective way to get less done. Juggling multiple tasks at once interrupts your focus, which can cause you to spend more time on each task than if you had completed them one at a time.

While research proves the harmful effects of multitasking on productivity, many of us still approach our work with an attitude of “do all the things, and do them right now.” It’s especially true for IT Operations teams that are overloaded with handling new requests and keeping production stable. In our experience, that describes every IT Operations team we’ve ever worked with.

Kanban seeks to minimize multitasking by employing work-in-process (WIP) limits at strategic points in a team’s process or workflow. True to its name, a WIP limit is a tool for limiting how much work can be in process at one time, thereby helping to expose bottlenecks and improve the flow of work. Here’s what IT Operations teams can learn about using WIP limits to get more of the right work done at the right time.

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What’s New: Increased Visibility with New Integrations

integrations

Our new integrations help you deliver value faster by enabling you to create a single, virtual system that optimizes your value stream. LeanKit Integrations provide a powerful way of enabling each team to work in their tool of choice while maintaining a single source of visibility into work details and status.

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Why Lean IT Operations is Business Critical

lean-it-operations

In the modern enterprise, success is determined by an organization’s ability to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace — a concept known as business agility. Without the ability to deliver up-to-date, relevant information where it’s needed most, organizations are unable to respond to internal and external opportunities and threats as they appear.

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Us vs. Them: The IT/Business Divide

The IT/Business Divide - LeanKit

I’ve worked in many organizations where the IT and business sides of the house just can’t seem to get along — a phenomena I refer to as the “IT/business divide.” If you’re unsure whether there’s a divide in your organization, ask yourself when IT is brought into the decision-making process.

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Can “Bad” IT Metrics Ever Be Good?

it-metrics

In my last post here on the LeanKit blog, I wrote about the hidden dangers of vanity metrics. Vanity metrics are those metrics that make us feel good about what we are doing and provide interesting information, but don’t pass the “So What?” test. A common characteristic is that they measure activity instead of progress.

In this blog post, I will dive deeper into the topic of vanity metrics. Specifically, I will answer the question: Can vanity metrics, or any other “bad” IT metrics, ever be used for good?

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