Kanban metrics is a vast subject area and probably can not be considered complete. But here I put what I consider the most common Kanban metrics, along with a few other useful ones, in a nice package.
If you are just starting with Kanban, don’t focus too much on the Kanban metrics. It’s more important for you to get the workflow just right than it is to measure and improve your process. Over time, as you become a mature Kanban organization, metrics will help you monitor and evaluate your performance. If I have to start somewhere, I’d recommend focusing on the value stream map first – which is a tool that provides a high level perspective on all of Kanban’s core concepts.
I will start by saying that if you are thinking about which metric to track for your process or team, then you should ask yourself WHY? You need to understand what it is that success means for your process/team/area of work… If you know this, then picking metrics becomes easy. The key bit here is what does success mean? Here’s an example: A game development team has “success” when they achieve the deadline for their next game product release. Having two consecutive products released on time is a successful performance. In this scenario, the release date of a product is a key metric required to be reported on weekly and monitored.
I have been working with Kanban for over 2 years now and I consider myself an advanced practitioner in Kanban, having coached multiple organizations in the adoption of this tool. It’s important that you understand that every team/process has its own nuances which make it different from others… What works for one area/team/company might not work for another – This makes it very important to get your basics right before looking at advanced techniques such as metrics. The foundation of any process lies in the principles behind it. In my opinion, there are two things that matter while introducing any new change:
The new idea has to be a logical extension of the current process – This is very important because it ensures that your people get new ideas based on what they already know. It’s a great way to get buy-in from the team, if you can show them how this change will make their lives easier. People need quick wins at every point in time while adopting new things.
It motivates the team to take more ownership of the process/change and believe in its benefits. It helps you accumulate more data over time about how big or small an impact this particular thing has on my overall productivity. You might find some examples below which I got from this book by Adam Grant.
Give your idea to someone who will be most excited by it – It’s important to find the right person in the organization who would be most responsive and high energy about a new initiative or idea you have. This person should be ambitious and passionate. Find that person and present your ideas/proposal/acknowledgments/and other related things early on so they can champion it for you and help create momentum around it. As soon as your key champion is happy with what you are doing, spin out more senior people who need to understand the change so they can embrace it as well… Ask them if they want to own part of this change themselves? If yes, then think about how you can get them excited and involved too. If they think it’s a bullshit idea or something you should do, then don’t bother going further with your change initiative.
Approach all but the most senior people you have worked with for feedback before going to the next person up the chain. Don’t make things needlessly complicated by creating fancy decks – create visuals that are simple, easy to understand, and capture peoples’ imaginations so they want to help champion things on their own…
It’s also important to time your big asks when people are in between projects. Once they’ve started new daunting tasks (like moving offices), attending information overload sessions, or just lost momentum after completing a goal, be very sensitive about coming back with more stuff for them to do. At the same time, you don’t want to wait too long to get your requests in either.
Just like scheduling our personal lives with other people, we also need to be sensitive and respectful of how we schedule big asks in our work lives.
Finally, since most of us who use presentations at work are introverts, one way we can make it easier on ourselves is by doing a practice run before we present (we talked about this in episode 26 ). That gives us more confidence when speaking, and ensures that when we end up running behind schedule or having technical difficulties with our equipment during the actual presentation, they won’t seem as stressful because we’ve already done it all before.”
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