Kanban Change Management Principles

March 19, 2019
3 minute read

The three foremost principles of Kanban Change Management are:

  1. Start with what you do now.
  2. Agree to pursue improvement through evolutionary change.
  3. Encourage acts of leadership at all levels.

These principles are deceptively simple. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Start with what you do now.

This principle is essentially about promoting transparency. It promotes a shared understanding of the current process, ie HOW value is delivered to customers. It’s a conversation. Identify your current customers, services, processes, policies, items of work, workflow, artifacts, roles, delivery capability, etc. Talk about them. Understand them. Question them. If you skip this step, you could end up implementing solutions for the wrong problems.

A “customer” is anyone who has a need that is satisfied by any of the items of work currently within the workflow. By “items of work” we mean items of customer-recognizable value. By “workflow”, we mean stages of knowledge generation that all or most of the work items naturally flow through in order to deliver services to customers. By “services” we mean a system that serves the needs of customers.

A workflow is not a value stream. A value stream visualizes hand-offs, a workflow does not. If you are unclear about who your customers are and what they ask you for, or if you are working on things that do not have explicit customer-recognizable value, or if you are still unclear about the difference between a workflow and a value stream, these are opportunities to pursue improvement through evolutionary change.

Agree to pursue improvement through evolutionary change.

You will continue to identify possible opportunities for improvement through your exploration of the first principle. The improved transparency provided by such exploration will make it easier to agree on better evolutionary change improvement decisions and actions.

Encourage acts of leadership at all levels.

Once you have transparency of the current state of your management processes and have agreed on evolutionary change improvements, everyone needs to be encouraged to take the lead on improvement initiatives. Everyone will become better at sensing and responding to feedback from the system you are trying to improve.

All three of these Kanban Management Principles are essential for organizational learning and improvement; more details on this can be found at Kanban University.

Consider our learning events for managers such as Kanban System Design and Kanban Management Professional.

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Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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