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Small yet valuable evolutionary progress in the Kanban management system

Small yet valuable evolutionary progress in the Kanban management system 21.07.2016 - The objective of Kanban hasn’t changed since Dr Klaus Leopold wrote the German version and David J. Anderson wrote the English version of their book “Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for your Technology Business”. On the other hand, Kanban has certainly not stood still. The insights and experiences gained over the years have helped the system to mature, and a number of additional practical elements have been added.
Some of these new elements of Kanban are explained in more detail below. 

The “Three Agendas of Kanban”
These three agendas, which were introduced by Anderson in 2013, help organizations and change agents make contextually appropriate choices about where and how they will start and to guide what follows. 
They are the Sustainability Agenda, the Service Orientation Agenda and the Survivability Agenda.
The Sustainability Agenda focuses on the internal structures that facilitate collaboration, balance and transparency.
The Service Orientation Agenda additionally encompasses the environment and focuses on optimally meeting the customer’s requirements and maximising the efficiency of downstream processes.
The Survivability Agenda is intended to empower the organisation for continuous change with survival strategies that enable it to adapt to new requirements and objectives. Acceptance and internalisation of the continuous change process make a lasting positive contribution to survivability.

Feedback loops
Optional feedback loops were called into question in 2012, when it was suggested that they should be mandatory. Feedback loops aren’t just suitable for making the deficits identified by the Kanban system visible, but also for specifically counteracting them, thereby facilitating the continuous improvement process. The implementation of feedback loops has been included in the Kanban practices.

Leadership at all levels
Encouragement of leadership at all levels, from individual contributor to senior management, has been included in the Kanban principles. This principle is about giving every single team member the opportunity to articulate his or her needs and make them transparent to others with the ultimate objective of satisfying the customer. Transparent communication drives development. 

Kanban Flight Levels
The Four Flight Levels described by Dr Klaus Leopold, author of the famous book “Kanban in der IT“, are similar to the previously described Three Agendas of Kanban. However Leopold makes the following four distinctions.
1. Organisational unit with uncoordinated input: at this flight level a small team or single department gets uncoordinated demands from many sources. Work is usually performed on a first come, first served basis.
2. Organisational unit with coordinated input: some effort is made to coordinate the demands on the team or department and funnel them through a prioritization and selection mechanism.
3. Value stream optimisation: builds on flight level 2 by providing for an (ideally) end-to-end workflow from customer demand to delivery.
4. Portfolio optimisation: focuses on improving multiple value streams which leads to a much better understanding of balancing demand vs. capability and managing risk.

All of these new elements that we have outlined can be very useful to any organisation introducing Kanban, particularly if they are practically combined. 
The following article provides further information and covers two more Kanban changes. You can read more about the “Nine Values of Kanban“ and about STATIK (Systems Thinking Approach to Introducing Kanban), which helps teams to implement and internalise the basic concept of Kanban (only in german language): 

http://www.heise.de/developer/artikel/Richtung-Service-Die-Evolution-der-Kanban-Methode-3252229.html   

If you’d like to find out more about Kanban and other agile project management approaches, book a course with one of our training partners. And if you’re already familiar with agile project management, why not take our "Certified Agile Project Manager (IAPM)" or "Certified Senior Agile Project Manager (IAPM)" certification to verify your competence, knowledge and experience!


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