Customer First Kanban

I’ve relegated SCRUM to the trash can. There is too much ceremony, and the act of planning becomes more important than the doing. I’ve fallen into the trap of planning the perfect sprint, but in the end, nothing gets completed from the sprint because what I planned to do was unimportant, and I had to work on something else more important. Weekly planning feels like I’m not getting things done even though there may be a lot of other tasks that I was working on.

Instead, I’ve moved to a pure Kanban system. This Kanban approach is customer focused with a four-week high throughput execution period followed by a two-week design and planning period.

The planning period has the goal of clarifying the Playbook to make the customer’s life easier. We take two weeks to do this because doing significant things takes time to get right and you need some time to think through problems. Further, by executing at high velocity continuously is ripe for burn out so it provides a time to relax and recharge working on primarily clean up tasks. However, all tasks designed for the execution period are designed to make the customer’s life easier and increase our ability to deliver value to the customer faster. To track our progress these tasks are added to the Playbook so we can see them updated in real time as the work is getting completed.

The four-week execution period is about rapid experimentation and releases. To increase our team’s ability to execute faster, the tasks are broken down into chunks that take about an hour to complete. The end result of this is that we can move faster and reduce the blast radius if things go wrong. Further, by breaking tasks into smaller chunks we can quickly get feedback of what is working and what is not. Lastly, during this period we prioritize velocity over absolutely everything else. Yes, this may be crazy, there will be duplicated code, not fully baked code deployed, etc. but like a sculptor working on a mold every task gets us closer to what the customer wants, while we also work on cleaning up the code. Further, tasks will be cross functional. That is a task can require code, sales, and marketing to do work before marking it as completed.

The end goal of all this should be completed products that are holistically designed and easier for the customer to use while making it faster to deploy.

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