To drive organizational agility, companies need to have a complete management system at disposal that they can leverage to build radical transparency, create a symbiosis between all structures, and facilitate information flow within them. Another critical part of the equation includes the organization’s ability to improve predictability and thus better balance demand with capabilities.
How do you tie all those things together to make your organization more resilient to changes? One way to accomplish that is to implement the workflow management using Kanban that improves organizational survivability. Focusing on visualization, data-driven continuous improvement, and engagement for all stakeholders is an appropriate answer to the turbulent pace of change in today’s business environment.
1. Use Kanban managing every services
Agile organizations aim to view their structures as a network of interdependent services and thus see the flow of a given solution from concept to fruition. This happens by introducing interconnected Kanban boards where the value stream of every services can be visualized. Structure like Strategy, Program, Project and Team Level from top to bottom view.
This provides unmatched transparency through integrating various practices such as limiting work in progress (WIP), uncovers bottlenecks, and enhances flow efficiency. As a result, teams can build Kanban system for every service delivery process and meet service level agreements (SLAs) gradually.
1.1. Managing Dependencies between Teams
Sometimes, different teams involved in releasing a complete service to the market and accumulating dependencies in large organizations. In the Lean Agile world, these are classified as waste and we need a way to manage them to reduce the risk of delay.
In order to avoid heavy disruptions of existing processes is to visualize dependencies on interconnected boards and track progress. For example, suppose one team is dependent on another for producing some form of value. Parking lot column can be created on the Kanban board where another teams’ input is required.
This creates a queue in the work process and the dependent team needs to monitor regularly. A good practice is to apply WIP limits on the queue to restrict the number of work items there. This can help to improve the flow and prevent other teams from overburdening.
On top of this, we can calculate how long dependent work stays in a parking lot with lead and cycle time data. This helps to form service level agreements with other teams and improve overall service delivery process.
2. Use Feedback Loops to Build an Information Flow
Agile organizations aim to achieve it through regular Agile ceremonies/cadences across all company levels when talking about frequent collaboration. This contributes to the creation of symbiosis between structures and streamlines information flow to ensure that the right things are executed at the right time.
There are seven cadences in Kanban that essentially helps to streamline communication between teams. They are Strategy Review, Operation Review, Risk Review, Service Delivery Review, Replenishment, Delivery Planning, and Daily Kanban.
2.1. Service Delivery Cadences
Daily Kanban, Replenishment, and Delivery Planning meetings are mainly concerned with pulling new work. This ensures the old one is getting done in every Kanban system across the organization.
Every single team can sync progress on projects and individual tasks in front of a Kanban board in the Daily Kanban. Teams can discuss which works to start next with the help of Replenishment cadence. Whereas Delivery Planning meeting is reserved for making decisions on which items are ready for customer delivery.
2.2. Improvement / Evolutionary Cadences
Service Delivery, Operations, Risk and Strategy Review is used to adapt changes on both team and management level. We can then looking for ways to evolve organizational systems.
The Service Delivery Review concerns about individual team members on past events and discuss how to do things better. Operations and Risk Review takes those discussions to a higher organizational level. By reviewing dependencies and identify risk events for reflecting on the performance of multiple teams. We can then looking for ways to mitigate them.
Strategy Review is concerned with engaging top-level executives who evaluate the business environment and adapt to changes. By aggregating information from other cadences, including market observations, we can plan strategic initiatives and ensure that the company is moving in the right direction.
3. Data-Driven Continuous Improvement
Developing an Agile organization also requires improved predictability so you can better match demand with capabilities and meet customer delivery requirements. The way to accomplish that is by analyzing service delivery data and then deriving improvements based on the findings.
By using Kanban metrics such as lead and cycle time, WIP, and throughput. We can measure and collect data on these metrics with Cumulative Flow Diagrams (CFD), Cycle Time Scatter Plots and Histograms, WIP, and Throughput Run charts, which will help us analyze workflow stability and come up with service level agreements across the organizations.
As a result, we are able to improve service delivery or project predictability and have a way to anticipate demand better. Enable us for making right decisions based on real data to improve overall organizational agility continuously.
4. Understand and Focus on Customer Expectations
Remember that path to organizational agility is never-ending. The ideas discussed above can help us boost, but our primary target for ensuring long-term survivability should be to delight our target market continuously.
Make sure we can collect feedback as soon as possible so that we can better understand our customer’s expectations. This will enable us to adapt to the changing needs and innovate faster.
Achieving organizational agility requires a cultural shift to a more transparent environment and a mindset of “test, learn and adapt”. To create an Agile company, you need a complete management system at hand that allows you to:
- Achieve radical transparency across all organizational structures;
- Build an information flow within them;
- Improve predictability to balance demand with capabilities.
Isabel Leung and Howie Sung are the co-founders of The Agile Eagle, the premiere Scrum, and Agile training and coaching organization.
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