Introduction to Kanban for Creative Agencies

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This is an introduction to Kanban. Creative agencies, like most organizations that do knowledge work, are defined by the projects they deliver that (hopefully) delivers value for the clients. Most agencies also struggle with multiple competing stakeholders, multiple client engagements, tight deadlines and long hours – it’s amazing any creative work happens at all. Most projects – brand campaigns, websites, landing pages, social, pr, direct, everything, can be viewed as a process - a series of steps or tasks that achieve some desired result – delivery of the project, a happy client, drinks in Tribeca. There are all kinds of processes - simple and complex, individual and team, quick and time-consuming. Sometimes large or over-arching processes consist of a series of smaller processes.

Kanban is a tool for managing the flow of materials or information (or whatever) in a process. Not having the materials, whether it is a part, a document, or customer information, at the time you need it causes delay and waste. On the other hand, having too many parts (too much design, creative briefs, design assets, code) on hand or too much work in process (WIP) is also a form of waste. Kanban is a tool to learn and manage an optimal flow of work within the process. It can also (potentially) make working in agencies a more human, and humane, place to do one’s best work.

Will Evans explores the convergence of practice and theory using Lean Systems, Design Thinking, and LeanUX with global corporations from NYC to Berlin to Singapore. As Chief Design Officer at PraxisFlow, he works with a select group of corporate clients undergoing Lean and Agile transformations across the entire organization. Will is also the Design Thinker-in-Residence at NYU Stern's Berkley Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Will was previously the Managing Director of TLCLabs, the world's leading Lean Design Innovation consultancy where he has brought Lean Startup, LeanUX, and Design Thinking to large media, finance, and healthcare companies.

Before TLC, he led experience design and research for TheLadders in New York City. He has over 15 years industry experience in design innovation, user experience strategy and research. His roles include directing UX for social network analytics & terrorism modeling at AIR Worldwide, UX Architect for social media site Gather.com, and UX Architect for travel search engine Kayak.com. He worked at Lotus/IBM where he was the senior information architect, and for Curl - a DARPA-funded MIT project when he was at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science.

He lives in New York, NY, and drinks far too much coffee. He Co-Founded and Co-Chaired the LeanUX NYC conference, and is the User Experience track chair for the Agile 2013 and Agile 2014 conferences.

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Introduction to Kanban for Creative Agencies

  1. v
  2. v Who are we? WILL EVANS Director of UX Design The Library Corporation @semanticwill Who I Am
  3. v Let’s start with an exercise!
  4. v Which is timeboxed
  5. v You have 5 minutes •  Write down everything that you are working on (or need to be working on) on a post-it •  ALL CAPS •  One item per post-it
  6. v Draw Personal Kanban TO DO DOING DONE
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  8. v
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  10. v What is a Kanban? “A Card (or traditionally, a Kanban), is a symbolic token representing a unit of effort, either to be completed or in the process of being completed.” - Jabe Bloom
  11. v A Pull System TODO DOING DONE Boundary Jabe Bloom, “The Moment of Pull” Future PastPresent
  12. v Why Lord? Why?
  13. v How can Kanban help? •  Where are we now? •  Who is working on what? •  What should I be doing? •  What should I not be doing? Is it hard for every person in your organization to answer these questions:
  14. v 5 Basic Principles •  Visualize your workflow •  Limit your work-in-progress (WIP) •  Make policies explicit •  Measure your flow •  Model process improvement
  15. v Visualize Workflow
  16. v Management Interaction Gap
  17. v Inference Ladder
  18. v Why Limit Your WIP? WIP (work-in-progress) is the proverbial “balls in the air you are juggling.” The more balls in the air, the harder it is to concentrate; attention to detail suffers; quality goes down; shit goes undone; you feel bad; work becomes overwhelming and unpleasant.
  19. v David Anderson, “WIP Limits are for Adults, Too!”
  20. v Typical Multi-tasking
  21. v Shorter Cycle Time
  22. v More Value & Throughput
  23. v Minimize TOTAL Cycle Time
  24. v Minimize TOTAL Cycle Time
  25. v 10 Reasons to Limit Your WIP Jim Benson “Why Limit Your WIP: A PK Flow Series”
  26. v Simple Kanban TO DO DOING (3) DONE Options Constraint Chris Matts & Olav Maassen, “Real Options Underlie Agile Practices”
  27. v WIP Limits TO DO DOING (3) DONE Forces conversation
  28. v Measure & Manage Flow Lead Time Cycle Time
  29. v Small Batches & Cycles Reduce Risk
  30. v Backlog To Do Doing (3) Testing (3) Done WIP Limit Explicit Policy Make Policies Explicit
  31. v Model Process Improvement Value Stream Mapping: A graphical representation of the flow of work involved in turning an idea into a product consumed by a customer Request Approve Requirements Signoff Research Design Build Test Deploy Delay Customer Delay
  32. v Incremental Improvement •  Review bottlenecks •  Pair to increase flow •  Adjust WIP Limits •  Suggest improvements •  Measure Lead Time & Cycle Time •  Perform experiments •  Track results with metrics
  33. v Real World Examples
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  37. v Challenges & Observations Walk the Gemba > Walking up the inference ladder Make the board work for you & your team •  Start with your existing process •  There is no “One True Board!” Keeping the value stream filled Pull is a mindset! Beware of “Infinite WIP” Recognize the true cost of context switching
  38. v Further Reading Start here Then Advanced
  39. v THANKS! WILL EVANS @semanticwill

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