Kanban from the Inside: 18. Sources of dissatisfaction

We’re at the start of Part III, which explains how to implement Kanban using the STATIK model.


Last November (two months after Kanban from the Inside was published, I posted here Understand motivation for change. Bear in mind as you read this week’s excerpt that any major revisions of the book will very likely involve a change of title to this chapter. Possibly one of emphasis too!

Any kind of deliberate change needs two key pieces of context:

  1. Its scope—some boundary around what we do now, within which the change will be focused—the “what” of the change
  2. Its objective—an expression of what we hope to achieve from the change, relative to how things currently are—the “why” of the change

In the beginning, it is unlikely that either of these will be known in any great detail. Don’t let that worry you unduly—it’s much better to start by exploring the problem space than to try to nail down solutions prematurely. And let’s be realistic about this: Scope and objectives are often determined more by what people feel is organizationally possible than by what is necessary. As change agents, we can find this very frustrating, but it’s okay: Let’s start with what’s possible; the impossible we can do later!

We start with sources of dissatisfaction because they lead very quickly to something much more positive: a set of things that people might want to achieve. Additionally, when we take the trouble to explore properly why these dissatisfactions are a problem to people, important issues like scope and sponsorship tend to become much clearer.

This is not the time for isolationism. You will need to talk to people! Be prepared to go out and meet them or to bring them in; make them part of the conversation.

Two Perspectives

Given even just a rough idea of scope, we can easily identify two quite different perspectives:

  1. The perspective of those working in the system—their first-hand understanding of the system itself, their impressions of how it is perceived externally
  2. The perspective of those outside of the system (customers, higher-level management, providers of related services)—how it helps to meet their broader needs (and what those might be), their impressions of how their immediate needs are serviced

Because we are getting people to look both inward and outward, it is no disaster if we later decide that we got the scope boundary wrong. Wherever we place that boundary, we learn a lot a by reconciling the two perspectives and accounting for any important differences. Opinions on the placement and nature of the boundary may be revealing, too.

Next up: 19. Analyze Demand and Capability. Previously: 17. Smaller Models. Start from the beginning: 1. Transparency.

My book Kanban from the Inside was published in September 2014 by Blue Hole Press, publishers of David Anderson’s Kanban book, aka the “blue book”. Complete with an awesome foreword by Luke Hohmann, it is available in paperback and now on Kindle onamazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.de and amazon.fr and (no doubt) other amazons also. A PDF e-book is also available via the djaa.com sto