Why You Need a Community of Practice

center of excellence

Note from the editor: In the original version of this post, we used the term Center of Excellence to describe a group of people who committed to learning and teaching Lean and Kanban methods within their teams. After several engaging discussions with internal and external thought leaders, we agreed that the term Community of Practice better represented the concept we wanted to encourage: a growing, evolving, inclusive community of people within an organization, committed to learning, experimenting, and continuously improving in their practice of Lean and Kanban.

In our experiences working with teams around the world, in different industries, with different goals, we’ve found one thing to be true: Developing a Community of Practice is essential for the sustainable adoption of not only our product, but of a continuously maturing Kanban initiative.

This isn’t a new concept; you might have played the role of “Community of Practice” in your team or department without realizing it. Often, the community will form organically, out of a desire to sustainably implement and practice Lean and Kanban consistently across a team, department, or organization. If you’re new to the concept, keep reading to learn why we strongly advocate for Communities of Practice as part of an effective Lean and Kanban implementation.

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Build Quality In: The Key to Continuous Delivery in Kanban

continuous delivery

The technology world is changing fast, faster than ever. A few years ago, we thought that only the Amazons or Facebooks of this world would be able to do continuous delivery. Now, the phenomenon is getting traction, starting to become mainstream and before we know it, it will be commoditized. Everybody will do it.

Why? Because the ability to release often gives organizations a great competitive advantage over their competitors with slower turnaround times. In order to practice continuous delivery, teams have to build quality into everything they do. This means that the actual product not only reaches the customers faster — it’s a better product, too. Learning to build quality in with Kanban helped my development team reduce waste, deliver faster, and communicate better with the organization around us.

Keep reading to learn how my development team changed our infrastructure, development practices, and culture to enable continuous delivery. Continue Reading

How Lean Improvement Methods Enable Respect

lean improvement methods

Growing up Vietnamese-American, I was taught to honor and respect people, never to waste anything and to always think beyond myself. I was also taught to hide conflict and to ignore problems, especially if had to do with someone senior to me.

I learned quickly that honor and respect cannot last without surfacing conflict and proactively resolving issues. At LeanKit, our culture starts with people. The diverse, quirky personalities in our company are allowed to shine through — they make us who we are.

But our traditions go deeper than bacon, Doctor Who, and Nerf guns. They’re rooted in an intrinsic hunger and drive to work together to improve the way the world works. We know that respect for people is one of the most effective Lean improvement methods, which enables us to maintain our agility, and adapt to change quickly and sustainably.

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SAFe and Kanban: Why They’re Better Together


Changing customer expectations, “burning platforms,” competitive pressures, and increasing regulatory requirements are just a few of the substantial challenges that modern business leaders face. These pressures have pushed many businesses from the merely complicated to the complex domain, requiring new approaches to management — evolutionary agility at scale.

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Are Project Boards Really Kanban? How Old-School Project Management Prevents Continuous Improvement


My name is Amber Bartlett and I’m an Education Specialist at LeanKit.  I have the pleasure of working with customers as they begin implementing our tool. One question that I get fairly regularly has to do with how many boards one person should have. Should each project get its own board, or is there a better way?

In concept, having a board for each project sounds logical. Each board would be so tidy! The cards on each board would all be about one thing, so you wouldn’t have to wade through unrelated material to find what you need. At the end of each project, you can neatly tuck each board into the archive, and start the next project on a fresh, new board. This is how project managers have been doing things for years.

However, doing things the “way we’ve always done it” is hardly a step in the direction of continuous improvement. If you manage this way, are you truly making steps towards becoming the Lean company that you are working to be?

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Lean: It’s About Pulling Together

Lean requires the discipline and teamwork of a crew team.

What Lean Teams Can Learn from Crew

I was working on a conference presentation the other day and found a picture of a crew team. It reminded me of a similar picture our marketing team has used on the LeanKit website, and how well that metaphor fits both Lean and me personally. I was in crew in high school. I still have my team jacket in my closet 20 years later. That may be corny nostalgia, but it speaks to the impact of the experience.

I rowed in quads. Quads are the boats where each rower faces backwards, with an oar in each hand, and there’s a coxswain in the back of the boat facing forward to guide the crew. It’s a wonderful metaphor for successful Lean teamwork.

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Why Vanity Metrics are Dangerous: Holding a Mirror Up to Your Measures of Success


What are Vanity Metrics?

Vanity, as an adjective, means “produced as a showcase for one’s talents” — i.e., a vanity production. When we showcase our own talents, we choose what makes us look good and ignore what doesn’t.

In this post, we’ll look at an IT Operations team that is caught in an interesting, though not uncommon, situation involving vanity metrics. Then, I’ll discuss the dangers of vanity metrics, and present a quick test you can to do to evaluate your own success measures.

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