I recently pointed a customer to a discussion around motivation when using Kanban compared to Scrum and other timebox-driven approaches. This blog post is a slightly edited version of my comments on that discussion, since I find myself getting into similar discussions quite frequently.
The question/context originally posed by Victor on kanbandev was: “We kind of dropped our previous Scrum process (or rather we decided to pay less attention to it because it was becoming less relevant once Kanban was in the picture. But one thing good about Scrum was that developers knew their story was due in 2 weeks so they paced themselves. With our Kanban system their isn’t an end date, so that motivator is gone. Can anyone suggest a replacement or remedy (other than Scrum, I really don’t want to go back)”
- A frequent delivery cadence on its own is typically enough to drive the right level of energies, even without a commitment to finish everything based on a sprint commitment. You can see this described in the FiftyOne.com case study in the Beyond Agile book.
- A frequent DEMO cadence can be enough as well, believe it or not! not even delivery… It is sometimes enough to create too much pressure and technical debt, even WITHOUT any commitment to finish a certain package of work. People are motivated to show they are done if there is some opportunity to show and boast it.
- Continuous Delivery seems to be even a higher motivator. I’m not working with enough people doing this, but those that do report a kind of rush that creates great motivation to complete things just to see how they perform in real life…
- Working with small units of value (e.g. Stories), Visualizing and managing flow is many times enough. But only if not, you can consider visualizing and managing “lagging/stale” cards more explicitly. I like for example the “Zombie Cycle Time” approach and talk about it and some of the other issues here in my Lean Kanban Benelux 2011 talk
- Purpose – clearly understood real external reason to deliver on a certain time. Whether it is a big deliverable built of many small things – where it is important to see whether you are on track towards that delivery using something like a CFD with release forecasting (trend lines/montecarlo/whatever), or a single value item that has a special delivery requirement. If people are aware of the deadline, realize the cost of delay, and ideally believe in the plan to deliver to that deadline, they will be highly energized.
Your Zombie Cycle Time link (http://14principles.com/visual-management/visual-management-part-5-zombie-cycle-time/) returns a 404.
Thanks for the comment Timothy. You are right. I fixed the link to refer to the relevant slide from my talk (http://www.slideshare.net/yyeret/energies-in-kanban/37). The original post about zombie cycle times seems to be lost … but a text version is available over at the wayback machine.
Quoting the essence here:
Posted on August 28, 2011 by 14 Principles
One of our teams had issues with long cycle times.
In an effort to reduce cycle times, Luke Smallwood, a colleague of ours devised the babyzombie sticker to visualise the problem:
Every day, for every `in progress` card, someone replaces the previous sticker with the next sticker. This is a simple, yet effective measure of cycle time. In practice, this turns out quite a pain to manage. Lot’s of replacing stickers:
Rather than replace the babyzombie sticker, the team tried to split their ‘in progress’ column in 5: each headed by the babyzombie.
Every day, cards move along one slot. Immediate visualisation of cycle time:
We’ve been moving towards short, even cycle time and flow for a while now. The benefits of short, even cycle times are clear and simple:
Process and practices have to improve to continually achieve short cycle time, Normalised working practices emerge, Predictability in delivery, Guesstimation becomes a thing of the past
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