Today I’m very excited to share with you an incredible side effect that I’m observing in all Kanban implementations that I’m coaching: all teams are improving their self-organization skills! Teams that already had some self-organization are improving it. Teams where their managers were still doing command-and-control are now becoming self-organized, leaving more time for their managers to focus on more important things than scheduling each and every task to their team members.
For instance, before Kanban, a team member wasn’t ever concerned with his colleagues’ work if it didn’t interfere with his own, because his objective was to finish his work only. After Kanban, his objective became to shorten the team’s cycle-time, which is a team-wide metric. With this in mind, all team members started to help each other, which improved their overall delivery rate. This is a very clear example of self-organization improvement!
Another very interesting example is a team where their manager was still doing command-and-control. With the Kanban board he started to focus on the tasks entrance queue only, leaving to the team the job to pull their work. The thing is that this “simple” change is the turning point from command-and-control to self-organization! Which means that now his team is self-organizing itself! This change also freed him much more time to focus on impediments resolution and process improvements with his team, which means that now he and his team are talking more about higher level things, smarter things, things that can really improve the way they work. Amazing!
Kanban improves self-organization in two very clear ways: by forcing a pull workflow instead of push, which breaks command-and-control on its roots, and by setting the team-wide objective of shortening cycle-time, which induces all team members to be more collaborative, efficient and effective.