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The Shape of Uncertainty
Dominica DeGrandis
Director, Learning & Development
@dominicad
dominica@leankit.com
www.leankit.c...
The next full-margin
rupture of the Cascadia
subduction zone will
spell the worst natural
disaster in the history of
the c...
Year built:
1962
Foundation:
Cinder
blocks with
no rebar
Our house
Year built:
1962
Foundation:
Cinder
blocks with
no rebar
Our house
Types of Metrics
Descriptive
Predictive
Prescriptive
We are trying to be approximately
right instead of exactly wrong.
work
request
done
	
  	
  	
  	
  
wait
meet to
discuss
work
wait
work
request
arrives
do
some
work
do
some
work
consider
...
work
request
done
	
  	
  	
  	
  
wait
meet to
discuss
work
wait
work
request
arrives
do
some
work
do
some
work
consider
...
work
request
done
	
  	
  	
  	
  
wait
meet to
discuss
work
wait
work
request
arrives
do
some
work
do
some
work
consider
...
Plotting elapsed work Flow timedays
0	
  
1	
  
2	
  
3	
  
4	
  
5	
  
6	
  
7	
  
8	
  
9	
  
0	
   1	
   2	
   3	
   4	...
work
request
done
	
  	
  	
  	
  
wait
meet to
discuss
work
wait
work
request
arrives
w1
do
some
work
do
some
work
consid...
work
request
done
	
  	
  	
  	
  
wait
meet to
discuss
work
wait
work
request
arrives
w1
do
some
work
do
some
work
consid...
0	
  
1	
  
2	
  
3	
  
4	
  
5	
  
6	
  
7	
  
8	
  
9	
  
0	
   1	
   2	
   3	
   4	
   5	
   6	
   7	
   8	
   9	
   10...
work
request
done
	
  	
  	
  	
  
wait
meet to
discuss
work
wait
work
request
arrives
w1
do
some
work
do
some
work
consid...
Dependency x 2
you	
   friend	
  
X	
  
X	
  
X	
   X	
  
What’s	
  the	
  likelihood	
  of	
  	
  
Arriving	
  on	
  Kme?...
Dependency x 2
you	
   friend	
  
X	
  
X	
  
X	
   X	
  
What’s	
  the	
  likelihood	
  of	
  	
  
Arriving	
  on	
  Kme?...
Dependency x 3
you	
   friend	
   brother	
  
X	
  
X	
  
X	
   X	
  
X	
  
X	
   X	
  
X	
   X	
  
X	
   X	
   X	
  
Dependency x 3
you	
   friend	
   brother	
  
X	
  
X	
  
X	
   X	
  
X	
  
X	
   X	
  
X	
   X	
  
X	
   X	
   X	
  
1 ch...
work
request
departs
	
  	
  	
  	
  
wait
meet to
discuss
work
wait
work
request
arrives
w1
do
some
work
do
some
work
con...
work
request
departs
	
  	
  	
  	
  
wait
meet to
discuss
work
wait
work
request
arrives
w1
do
some
work
do
some
work
con...
work
request
departs
	
  	
  	
  	
  
wait
meet to
discuss
work
wait
work
request
arrives
w1
do
some
work
do
some
work
con...
Time series plot for completed work
0	
  
5	
  
10	
  
15	
  
20	
  
25	
  
30	
  
0	
   1	
   2	
   3	
   4	
   5	
   6	
...
Percentile line – 50%
0	
  
5	
  
10	
  
15	
  
20	
  
25	
  
30	
  
0	
   1	
   2	
   3	
   4	
   5	
   6	
   7	
   8	
  ...
Percentile lines – 50% and 70%
0	
  
5	
  
10	
  
15	
  
20	
  
25	
  
30	
  
0	
   1	
   2	
   3	
   4	
   5	
   6	
   7	...
Percentile lines – 50%, 70%, 90%
0	
  
5	
  
10	
  
15	
  
20	
  
25	
  
30	
  
0	
   1	
   2	
   3	
   4	
   5	
   6	
   ...
Map time series plot to histogram
0	
  
5	
  
10	
  
15	
  
20	
  
25	
  
30	
  
0	
   1	
   2	
   3	
   4	
   5	
   6	
  ...
0	
  
1	
  
2	
  
3	
  
4	
  
1	
   2	
   3	
   4	
   5	
   6	
   7	
   8	
   9	
   10	
  11	
  12	
  13	
  14	
  16	
  17...
Visualizing Uncertainty
An uncertain number is a shape.
The longer the tail, the more
unpredictable.
280	
  
90	
  0-­‐1	
...
Control Queues Instead of Timelines
Flow time lengthens when WIP
increases.
To optimize and improve flow, we
need to contr...
Average FT 4.3 days.
95% work done < 23 days.
Use this graph to quantify the probability of
completing X% of the work with...
Unplanned Work Aug 28 –Oct 12
Aug 28 Oct 12
12	
  data	
  points	
  
Number	
  of	
  Unplanned	
  Work	
  items	
  
Unplanned Work Aug 28 –Oct 12
Plan for unplanned work!
“If we have data, let’s look at
data. If all we have are
opinions, let’s go with mine.”
Jim Barksdale
former Netscape CEO
5 Take Aways:
1.  Consider being approx. right vs. precisely
wrong.
2. Adding work to your plate faster than
completing pr...
“If predictability is your goal,
the best thing you can do
as a leader is reserve capacity”
Troy Magennis
Founder, Focused...
Where is the costliest
uncertainty in your
organization?
	
  
@dominicad
References
@dominicad	
  
The Shape of Uncertainty
Dominica DeGrandis
Director, Learning & Development
dominica@leankit.com
www.leankit.com
@dominic...
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Dominica the shapeofuncertainty.oct20

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For a variety of reasons, we overestimate the ability to get work done. We over commit our teams and ourselves. This leads to broken promises, unhappy customers and unhealthy businesses. This talk demonstrates how to use a Kanban flow approach to measure the probability of delivering work on time.
Exec overview of the Kanban Flow method – While demand is unbound, capacity is limited
How to measure the probability of finishing work on time
Wait time vs. getting work done time – a look at flow efficiency and resource efficiency
What, how and why to set wip limits to strengthen business health

Published in: Software
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Dominica the shapeofuncertainty.oct20

  1. 1. The Shape of Uncertainty Dominica DeGrandis Director, Learning & Development @dominicad dominica@leankit.com www.leankit.com
  2. 2. The next full-margin rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone will spell the worst natural disaster in the history of the continent. The New Yorker July 20, 2015
  3. 3. Year built: 1962 Foundation: Cinder blocks with no rebar Our house
  4. 4. Year built: 1962 Foundation: Cinder blocks with no rebar Our house
  5. 5. Types of Metrics Descriptive Predictive Prescriptive We are trying to be approximately right instead of exactly wrong.
  6. 6. work request done         wait meet to discuss work wait work request arrives do some work do some work consider the work deliver When will work be done?   work Sep 23
  7. 7. work request done         wait meet to discuss work wait work request arrives do some work do some work consider the work deliver When will work be done?   work Sep 23 Oct 1
  8. 8. work request done         wait meet to discuss work wait work request arrives do some work do some work consider the work deliver When will work be done?   work The elapsed time for the work to get done is 8 days Flow time (Process time + wait time) = 8 days   Sep 23 Oct 1
  9. 9. Plotting elapsed work Flow timedays 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   Oct    
  10. 10. work request done         wait meet to discuss work wait work request arrives w1 do some work do some work consider the work deliver More work gets started   w0 w1 comes in and makes it almost all the way to done, but gets hung up waiting on vendor. While we’re waiting, we pull in work item w2. w2
  11. 11. work request done         wait meet to discuss work wait work request arrives w1 do some work do some work consider the work deliver The problem in knowledge work is delayed feedback w2 w4w5 w3 Still waiting on w1, now blocked More work requests arrive w2 finishes on Oct 2 – took 4 days   w6 w7 w8 Oct 2
  12. 12. 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   Plotting elapsed work Flow timeFlowTimeDays    Oct    
  13. 13. work request done         wait meet to discuss work wait work request arrives w1 do some work do some work consider the work deliver Starting new work faster than finishing prior work = No flow w2 w4w5 w3 We work on too much stuff at the same time We don’t realize the impact of dependencies w6 DR1.1 w8 work w11 DR1.2 w14 w10w15 DR1.3 DR1.4 w16  Dependency   PRJT   DALY  
  14. 14. Dependency x 2 you   friend   X   X   X   X   What’s  the  likelihood  of     Arriving  on  Kme?    
  15. 15. Dependency x 2 you   friend   X   X   X   X   What’s  the  likelihood  of     Arriving  on  Kme?     1 chance in 4 = 25% of arriving on time
  16. 16. Dependency x 3 you   friend   brother   X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X  
  17. 17. Dependency x 3 you   friend   brother   X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X   1 chance in 8 = 12.5% of arriving on time
  18. 18. work request departs         wait meet to discuss work wait work request arrives w1 do some work do some work consider the work deliver Flow - the movement & delivery of value through the pipeline w2 w4w5 w3 That point when we said it would only take 2 days, but it actually took 2 weeks. We have become unpredictable. And our fellow workers don’t trust us anymore.   w6 p1 work p2 w10 p3p4 w17 A1A2 w7 A3 w18 A4 w19 AUDIT   PRJCT  
  19. 19. work request departs         wait meet to discuss work wait work request arrives w1 do some work do some work consider the work deliver Flow - the movement & delivery of value through the pipeline w2 w4w5 w3 That point when we said it would only take 2 days, but it actually took 2 weeks. We have become unpredictable. And our fellow workers don’t trust us anymore.   w6 p1 work p2 w10 p3p4 w17 A1A2 w7 A3 w18 A4 w19 AUDIT   PRJCT  
  20. 20. work request departs         wait meet to discuss work wait work request arrives w1 do some work do some work consider the work deliver Flow - the movement & delivery of value through the pipeline w2 w4w5 w3 That point when we said it would only take 2 days, but it actually took 2 weeks. We have become unpredictable. And our fellow workers don’t trust us anymore.   w6 p1 work p2 w10 p3p4 w17 A1A2 w7 A3 w18 A4 w19 AUDIT   PRJCT  
  21. 21. Time series plot for completed work 0   5   10   15   20   25   30   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   days    Oct     Sat                  Sun  
  22. 22. Percentile line – 50% 0   5   10   15   20   25   30   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   days    Oct     50%  
  23. 23. Percentile lines – 50% and 70% 0   5   10   15   20   25   30   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   days    Oct     50%   70%  
  24. 24. Percentile lines – 50%, 70%, 90% 0   5   10   15   20   25   30   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   days    Oct     50%   70%   90%  
  25. 25. Map time series plot to histogram 0   5   10   15   20   25   30   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10    Oct     0   1   2   3   4   days   27               14     11     8     4   2     1  
  26. 26. 0   1   2   3   4   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12  13  14  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27   Histogram – the shape of uncertainty  Oct    
  27. 27. Visualizing Uncertainty An uncertain number is a shape. The longer the tail, the more unpredictable. 280   90  0-­‐1     10   Number  of  Work  Items  completed   Number  of  days  to  complete  work  items  
  28. 28. Control Queues Instead of Timelines Flow time lengthens when WIP increases. To optimize and improve flow, we need to control queues. 200   60   90  0   10   Number  of  Work  Items  done   Number  of  days  to  complete  work  items  
  29. 29. Average FT 4.3 days. 95% work done < 23 days. Use this graph to quantify the probability of completing X% of the work within Y days. All Ops Work completed Aug 28 –Oct 12
  30. 30. Unplanned Work Aug 28 –Oct 12 Aug 28 Oct 12 12  data  points  
  31. 31. Number  of  Unplanned  Work  items   Unplanned Work Aug 28 –Oct 12 Plan for unplanned work!
  32. 32. “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” Jim Barksdale former Netscape CEO
  33. 33. 5 Take Aways: 1.  Consider being approx. right vs. precisely wrong. 2. Adding work to your plate faster than completing prior work increases WIP. 3. The odds of being predictable decrease when WIP increases & FlowTimes elongate 4. Control queues, not timelines to improve flow. @dominicad
  34. 34. “If predictability is your goal, the best thing you can do as a leader is reserve capacity” Troy Magennis Founder, Focused Objective  
  35. 35. Where is the costliest uncertainty in your organization?   @dominicad
  36. 36. References @dominicad  
  37. 37. The Shape of Uncertainty Dominica DeGrandis Director, Learning & Development dominica@leankit.com www.leankit.com @dominicad

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