Project Management

Zen and the Art of Personal Kanban Maintenance

From the The Reluctant Agilist Blog
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Personal Kanban Weeks 13-16: 

Zen and the Art of Personal Kanban Maintenance

 

Phaedrus had Quality
I have Value

The more I examine my approach to getting work done, the more I am aware of the inefficiency I have baked into it. The more I study about Lean, the more I become concerned about "waste". Waste is bad. Waste must be exterminated!

 

But what about the waste that is in there on purpose? Is that really waste?

When I teach classes, I bring a few extra workbooks for students, just in case. Most of the time, it goes in the trash at the end. So, the waste of creating extra materials for extra money is made worse by discarding it at the end of the class. Massive waste. However, that waste provided me with peace of mind that enabled me to be better focused on teaching the class. So, was it really waste?

To understand what waste is occurring and where it is taking place,  I need to understand what I am doing that does not contribute to "value".

Value = ?

In interviewing people about Personal Kanban, several of them said they prioritize work based on what makes them happy and that they only do things with make them happy. 

Initially, this sounded great, but, 

IF (value = happy)

THEN (who changes cat litter?)

I wasn't doubting the people who told me they prioritize based on what makes them happy, I was just struggling with all the other stuff that still had to get done.  When I asked what they did with the work that did not make them happy, they said they would delegate it if it was truly necessary. This was not something I was able to envision applying to my own world though.  I have no one to delegate to.

(Minions would be nice.) Even if I did, the thought of just dumping all the not happy work on them does not seem entirely in synch with my understanding of  servant leadership. 

I am clearly struggling with "value". I need some help.

Milestone...

To mark the halfway point in my 6-month experiment with Personal Kanban here is an update on where I am with it…

Original Goals - 100% achieved

1. I have learned more about how Kanban works and how it is different from Personal Kanban.

2. I have demonstrated to myself that I am capable of actually practicing some version of Personal Kanban

Having reached a point where I have solved my initial questions (above), I realized that to go any further with this I was going to need to solve a different (bigger) question:

What is value?

I also realized that if I wasn't going to go the same route as Phaedrus, I was going to need some assistance. 

While I've coached teams in Agile, I've never actually had a coach myself. This seemed like the perfect opportunity. I asked Brian Bozzuto if he would be kind enough to coach me and he was kind/foolish enough to agree to work with me for a few weeks. During our initial calls we talked about a number of topics which I will be posting about in the coming weeks. One of these, however, was "value".  After discussing the prioritizing by happiness approach, it seemed that defining happiness first would be key.  Boz suggested we both try an experiment. We each signed up for Track Your Happiness http://www.trackyourhappiness.org/. Once you sign up you begin receiving polls from them a few times a day trying to determine your relative level of happiness. After you complete a number of surveys they create a report that is designed to provide you with a better understanding of the things which truly bring you happiness. 

In the next post I will explain why the DFW is (sadly) my happy place.

Posted on: June 03, 2013 06:31 PM | Permalink

Comments (1)

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Anonymous
Now, this just got real! Value is a critical concept to define. Generally speaking, I am not a fan of the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is a wishy-washy destination. Happiness is so in the moment, so wrought with navel gazing. Valuable activities are bricks, daily decisions stacked upon each other until they build something that you could call your legacy. You value the peace of mind that comes with having extra teaching materials. You value the relationship with those extra students who *might* show up, and those extra booklets will help them feel comfortable and prepared. Is that, then, waste? Depends on how you frame it. You value your cat, your kids, whatever, and with that comes the grunt work of cat litter, carpool, and laundry. So zen, yes?

All that rambling of mine could be distilled in this one thought: Value is best understood from the perspective of your future legacy, not your current happiness, grasshopper.

Truly enjoying this series. Keep 'em coming!

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