We are making changes at Kanban University in order to make our training path and our credentials more easily understood both by those who might take training and obtain a credential and for those who might employ people with these credentials. As part of this program we’re announcing a significant change to our highest level of achievement, our elite consulting credential for experts in the Kanban Method. Since 2012, the most proficient exponents of the Kanban Method, have been known as Kanban Coaching Professionals (KCPs). At the same time, trainers have been known as Accredited Kanban Trainers (AKTs). Today, we are acting to correct the confusion with the names. From today, existing KCPs will be know as Accredited Kanban Consultants (AKCs) and we are launching our new AKC program and associated training class.
Accredited Kanban Professionals
Since 2012, Kanban University has had two programs to develop trainers and consultants. While the path to accreditation has been different, the common theme, is that both credentials have been marked by peer review and approval. Accredited Kanban Trainers must audition before their peers and fellow trainees as well as at least two AKT-trainers. Over a 5-day period, their knowledge of the Kanban Method and our training curriculum is examined and critiqued. They are auditioned for their ability to teach the material, their ability to tell stories, and their ability to illustrate the effectiveness of the method using case study evidence. Consultants have had a different path: Having completed the KCP Masterclass, 5 days of intensive training, in advanced Kanban practices, change leadership and sociology, they must complete at least 6 months field experience leading an Agile transition using the Kanban Method, write up their experience in an essay; apply to the program; undergo a period of mentoring from an existing accredited professional; and then appear before a panel interview of at least 3 existing accredited consultants. Once accredited the successful applicant is awarded the white Kanban University lanyard. This is an indication of their status in our community and their professional qualification. When attending our events globally, you can be assured that those wearing a white lanyard have progressed through a peer-review process and that Kanban University vouches for their level of knowledge and experience. It only made sense that we simplify the naming of these credentials. And hence, from today, we have
- Accredited Kanban Trainer (AKT) – with a license to teach one or more of our certified training classes
- Accredited Kanban Consultant (AKC) with the skills and experience to lead large scale Agile transitions using the Kanban Method
The AKC becomes our highest-level credential with the hardest path to achievement
Change Leadership Masterclass
The educational requirement for AKC is that they have completed the intensive 5-day Change Leadership Masterclass. This class replaces the KCP Masterclass. The oldest class in our catalog, the KCP Masterclass was first offered in October 2009. It is retired after almost 10 years. The replacement class is based on the 6th generation of the existing curriculum. Effectively the 7th generation of the class, all of the Kanban content has been removed. This is now offered though the KMP, KMM and Kanban Coaching Practices classes. Instead the Change Leadership class focuses more time on case study review, interactive classroom workgroup sessions, and illustrative movies demonstrating the collection of models and frameworks that help us understand why people resist change, and how to motivate them to get on-board your Agile transition initiative.
The focus is very much on sociology and social psychology and the adaptation of evolutionary theory, and advanced physics such as the laws of thermodynamics and quantum mechanics to social situations. The outcome is that participants learn to see the world around them differently. They see people and workplace situations differently. They learn how to predict where resistance will appear and the forms it will take. They learn to act to enable change in ways that don’t invoke resistance and when it does, they learn an escalating set of techniques to move people to supporting the changes. The Masterclass is the “queen” of our training catalog. It is the ultimate curriculum. It changes people forever. It is rightly the class required for those aspiring to the highest level of professional credential offered by Kanban University.
The KCP credential isn’t going away
The Kanban Coaching Professional (KCP) credential will not disappear. Instead, it will become much more common. By codifying our community’s coaching practices knowledge into the Kanban Maturity Model, we are democratizing adoption of the Kanban Method and successful implementation. The bar for awarding a KCP credential was always the question: is this candidate capable of leading an organization of at least 150 people to a full Kanban implementation with end-to-end pull? It is now possible to achieve this with the Kanban Maturity Model (KMM) and the Kanban Maturity Model Extension for Coaching Practices (KMMX Coaching Practices). Look out for a full announcement about the new KCP credential tomorrow, August 2nd.
What will continue to differentiate the Accredited Kanban Consultants (AKCs) is their ability to work off-the-script and beyond the playbook. They will continue to be the consultants to tackle the difficult challenges, and the domains we haven’t yet seen before, to explore the bleeding edge of Kanbanland, to settle new territories and extend the state-of-the-art. The existing AKC community have collectively helped to define what makes the Kanban Method and the KMM what they are today. For this reason, the white lanyard, is rightly a indicator of the highest achievement, most experience, greatest knowledge, and most energetic contribution to our movement and our mission of improving management in 21st Century organizations.
Another Step Forward on our Mission
Kanban University is dedicated to improving the performance of modern 21st Century businesses, and the effectiveness of managers in professional services, knowledge worker organizations. By clarifying our professional credential program and making it easier to understand, we move another step forward. It is now easier to understand the value of working with a Kanban University Accredited Professional, an AKT or an AKC. When you need the best Kanban training available, your hire an AKT. When you need the best Agile consultants conversant in achieving large-scale business agility through the alternative path offered by the Kanban Method, then you hire an AKC.
About Kanban University
Kanban University is a management training company based in Seattle, United States. Led by David J. Anderson, the originator of the Kanban Method, it is the authority on training and professional development using Kanban. Kanban University offers certified training classes through a global network of accredited trainers (AKTs). For more information visit https://kanban.university/ or email email@example.com
For a current list of Change Leadership masterclasses visit the David J Anderson School of Management https://djaa.com
How efficient is your flow?
One of the questions that working professionals get asked the most is “When will my request be completed?” In order to answer, we often look at lead time metrics to give a predictable answer. Looking at lead times over a period of time can give us a pretty high confidence level in setting delivery expectations. It is a strategy for predictability.
When we look at improving those lead times, we often focus on how to improve the active work we do for the requests we receive. We might improve test automation, implement code review process and/or continuous delivery pipelines. Those are all great endeavors. However, too many teams are not aware that the biggest way to improve the lead times for our work may actually be focusing on reducing the time we spend NOT working on our requests.
Introducing the Flow Efficiency metric
Flow Efficiency examines the two basic components that make up your lead time: working time and waiting time.
Unless you are working on one thing at a time, and you never get interrupted, lead time has both of these components. Waiting time can be encountered for many reasons: dependencies, priority changes, too much work-in-progress, etc.
Stated in another way: work-in-progress isn’t always actually in progress. Flow efficiency tells us how often that is true.
Calculating your flow efficiency
Measuring flow efficiency can be done for a single request, but its much more likely that you want to measure the flow efficiency of your process over all requests completed in a specific time period. So, for the items completed in that time period, you’ll need the following information.
- Overall Lead time (work + wait time)
- Active Work time (do not include time spent waiting)
You then calculate the flow efficiency by dividing the active work time by the overall lead time. Multiply the result of that equation by 100% and the result is your flow efficiency for the given time window.
Visualizing your wait
The key to calculating flow efficiency is to know how long work spends waiting. If you are working with a board for a true pull system, your board structure will be configured to show when work is queued and ready to be pulled to the next step. Measuring how long work spends in those queue columns is needed to properly calculate flow efficiency.
People often want to know how granular they should go in measuring wait vs work times. Well, like many things, it is a balance between the overhead of tracking the data for the calculation and the benefit you can get from it. I don’t suggest that people try to track down to the minute. Some people want to start in days and some want to track the hours they spend working on a task in a given day. My advice? Just start somewhere and discover what the right balance is for you or your team. If its too much overhead people will abandon it so err on the easier side and then get more detailed if you find it is necessary.
What is a normal flow efficiency?
I have read many and varied statements on the flow efficiency of your standard team/organization and the most generous of them all states that teams who aren’t paying attention to this concept generally have flow efficiencies around the 15%(1) mark. So, 15% is “normal.” That means that work normally spends 85% of its lifecycle waiting on something.
Some causes of this wait are more easily remedied than others. Sometimes we can just stop making choices that incur wait time and, in others, we need help from other departments or organizations to resolve the issues. That is probably one of the reasons that David J Anderson says that a good flow efficiency is anything above 40%(2).
In almost all cases, the math tells us that we can achieve a much higher percentage reduction in lead time if we focus on resolving causes of wait over streamlining the work. That’s a massive opportunity for customer happiness.
Improving your flow efficiency
Like most metrics, your flow efficiency result will not tell you how to improve your efficiency. Any attempt to do so in a standard format that is divorced from context would most likely cause more problems than it helps to solve. It is the responsibility of the consumer of any metric to understand what it aims to show you (and what it doesn’t). It’s also your responsibility to look for causes of the trends and data points reflected in the metric.
Once you dive into the details of the work, you can begin to discover the causes of the unnecessary wait times and the impact each one of those causes has. At that point, you can start to design experiments to try to reduce the wait and increase your flow efficiency.
Visualizing and reducing the wait, in addition to streamlining the work itself, can prove to be kryptonite to long lead times and just the ticket to building happier customers.
By: Shuchi Singla
One of the biggest challenges leadership faces is that of predicting future expected results or even simply understanding the current state of a project. However, using Kanban allows the team to visualize their work and monitor a more predictable flow pattern of their work (though it may change/improve as the project progresses). Visual reports help the team define their progress and predict future outcomes of their efforts. Lean Kanban software tools such as Kanbanize simplify this process by providing insightful analytics in various formats and measuring varying data from the work process. Lead and Cycle Times and Cumulative Flow Diagrams allow teams to measure the project performance and help in identifying inefficiencies and bottlenecks.
The Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) shows how work “accumulates in the flow” with time. It shows the relative amount of work for each stage of the project over time. Large gaps and flat horizontal lines indicate impediments to flow or lack of flow, which usually occur due to ineffective work in progress limits.
In the example above, on June 30th 2015, there was only 1 item in Done, 2 items in the Backlog, 19 items in In Progress, 0 items in the Temporary Archive and 2 items in the column Breakdown (where parts of project planning happen).
This means there is some impediment in the In Progress column, which is drying up work that can go into the Done state and the impediment is creating a queue in In Progress.
By looking at the diagram above, a manager can predict that on June 30 – there are a total of 55 tasks (vertical distance) in various stages of completion mapped on the Kanban board. 19 of those are being worked on at the moment. The horizontal distance will depict how long it took to complete ( cycle time), until June 30th is 55 days, in this case.
How is the Cumulative Flow Diagram different from a Burndown chart?
Usually, when referring to CFD, people tend to ask how is this different from a Burndown or a Burnup chart. In fact, at times they get confused between the Burnup Chart and CFD.
The key difference between Burnup Charts and CFDs are:
- A Burnup chart shows progress towards a goal.
- A Cumulative Flow diagram shows the distribution of all work items (e.g., stories,defects) across various states, over time.
A Burnup Chart shows progress towards the scope. Changes in scope or estimates during the cycle cause fluctuations in the scope line. At the same time, we show progress towards the goal by charting the amount of work completed to date. Ideally, the amount of completed work will rise to the scope line by the end of the cycle.
A Burndown Chart is a simple graph used to track a team’s progress and help estimate how much time is required to complete the project. The number of tasks remaining in the project is usually plotted on the y-axis, while time is plotted on the x-axis. However, the limitation of a Burndown Chart is that we can only plot the tasks that have been completed so far and not those that are works in progress (WIP). Also, it does not explain why work may have been delayed. On the other hand, in the CFD, we can plot the total backlog at the beginning of the project, work in progress and tasks that have been completed. The features are plotted on the y-axis, while time is plotted on the x-axis. CFDs are more informative visually and are, at the same time, simple to create and update.
Below is an example of a Burndown chart, which has a downward slope unlike the CFD.
Lead and Cycle Time Reports present the average amount of time it takes for a task to be processed from the specific start to the finish point. Depending on the economic value you choose to measure, both cycle time and lead time can be applied directly to your team. For example, if you want to improve the delivery capabilities of your software development team, your cycle time measurement can track the time it takes for a work item to go from the commitment point to deployment.
These can be used to analyze the time required to traverse work items across the Kanban board and to make improvements in the project performance.
Throughput is the average number of task units processed per time unit. In a Kanban system, examples can include “cards per day” or “story points per iteration”.Throughput is an important metric to track in order to know what impacts your economic system. Think about how an understanding of the average units processed per time period impacts business decisions and measure it accordingly.
Whichever reporting pattern we choose to make use of, at the end, the goal is more about creating economic value than it is about having the fastest cycle time or highest throughput. Maintaining a steady flow of work through your Kanban system can help you deliver value more quickly and reliably.
Kanban analytics, similar to those in the Kanbanize analytics module, help you plan and organize work by allowing you to track your Cycle Time and lead time.
You can use metrics to improve your process efficiency by making project performance visible, identifying bottlenecks early and solving problems as they occur.
Recently, I’ve taken a new approach to teaching The Kanban Method. The new Lean Kanban “Practicing the Kanban Method” class is built around the 7 Kanban Cadences – the cyclical meetings that drive evolutionary change and “fit for purpose” service delivery. Two of these meetings are relatively new additions to the method: Risk Review added in 2014 as a response to Klaus Leopold formalizing Blocker Clustering in 2013; and Strategy Review as an emergent response to the concept of “fit for purpose” and the need to sense the external environment, in order to be able to respond appropriately. The other 5 were existing elements of the method, though the first edition of my Kanban book ommitted Service Delivery Review. In truth our training has not until now emphasized these meetings and particularly replenishment/commitment and delivery planning have not been explicitly taught. Little wonder then that these very basic functions of Kanban have not been well implemented in the field.
When implementing the 7 cadences we don’t expect people to add seven new meetings to their organizational overhead. Instead we expect to find existing meetings that change be adapted and tuned up. Also at smaller scale we expect the meetings to be combined. We’ve also got one client who combined SDR with Replenishment/Commitment because the audience was the same. However, the SDR is on a bi-weekly cadence while Replenishment is weekly. To facilitate the combination they simply increase the meeting time by 30 minutes every other week. Delivery Planning is covered in the Kanban book but is for the first time being emphasized separately in training. Showing that Replenishment and Delivery Planning are separate meetings emphasizes the deferred delivery commitment taught in the class and really helps to underscore differences with methods such as Scrum where the two are combined and coupled together. By decoupling commitment to service a request from commitment to a specific delivery date, you can increase customer satisfaction by better managing their expectations and making promises you know you can keep. It’s been an important element of Kanban since 2006 and finally we are making it more explicit in our training.
There are 10 feedback loops on this diagram showing information flow and change request flows between the different meetings. Information flow is intended to facilitate decision making for example, output from a replenishment meeting would appear as information at a standup meeting. Change requests imply that something is not working well enough, that there is perception that some current policy is leading to an outcome that isn’t “fit for purpose,” for example, both SDR and Ops Review will provide capability information to a Strategy Review together with a requets for a change of strategy due to a lack of operational capability to deliver on current strategy.