Kanbaning your Scrum (3 of 3)
  • John Coleman

Kanbaning your Scrum (3 of 3)

John Coleman tries out Toyota Kata style flow retrospectives.


You might remember the 1st post or the 2nd post.


I used Mike Burrows' Featureban (https://www.agendashift.com/featureban) and Andy Carmichael's additional design, with some tuning. "Daily", team members flipped coins. Heads or Tails, heads was a good day, tails not so good, and people learned to benefit from one of the rules for tails that one could move an item from selected into build. On a given day a PBI could move into selected and build with heads or tails, and then with two heads, could move through Build and Test into Done. In this case, we know that each PBI takes two to three days if there is no waiting. We seemed to get reliable with 2 day cycle time towards the end and it seemed pointless to continue as it was obvious from that point we would stay consistent as long as we did not change policies.



In most of the Featureban simulations in the last two years or so, I added Toyota Kata as the retrospective technique from the 2nd retrospective onwards, inspecting the Kanban statistical trends. I moved on from old official Toyota Kata to a solar system metaphorical equivalent, as it was easier to explain. Why the 2nd retrospective onwards, because in the first retrospective, more than one explicit policy changes usually, and Toyota Kata is about which one biggest obstacle to the target condition will we tackle next, based on reading these charts.


More details on Toyota Improvement & Coaching Kata can be found at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mrother/Homepage.html. I personally like this video demonstration at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pp8JMD-pWQ&t=0s, thinking about how I can apply it in my context. 

I borrowed the expression "almost impossible perfection vision" from Bas Vodde. It's a disarming phrase. For me, that is getting to Mars, only attainable 5+years away, ok it's impossible for me:).

It's easy for people to brainstorm what "Mars" is for the product. For us, it was average arrival rate=average delivery rate (balanced system with great flow), an average delivery rate for 3 to 4 Product Backlog Items (PBIs) per day and world-beating performance in terms of money value delivered of 10m of your preferred currency. A team in Cincinnati recently broke the record, probably because they were smart but also because they had the advantage of almost two days for a Professional Scrum with Kanban course beforehand ( I know this because my 1st PSK class in Cork got very close (see https://www.scrum.org/courses/professional-scrum-with-kanban-training for the brochure and https://www.scrum.org/classes?type[]=133&scrumorg_geocoder_postal_state=1 for listed classes).


"The moon" is attainable in 1-3 years and should be a challenge but doable. It's usually a subset of the almost impossible perfection vision. For us, it was not world-beating value (world matching 7.65m would do and throughput average would be 2 per day or higher) but average arrival rate=average delivery rate.


"Getting into orbit" is the 3-6 month target condition that is a stretch but doable. And we ask what is it like on mother Earth right now, that is, what is the actual condition right now. This feels more realistic. So now we have catered for the realists, optimists and dreamers :).

Here is the official version from Mike Rother:



That means we can ask what are the obstacles to the attainment of the target condition, and ask the key question, what is the biggest obstacle right now. Finally, we can refer to the official Toyota Kata cards:



Toyota Kata works! Give it a go. Start with retrospectives and move to daily, twice daily. It's ok for the vision to change. Life changes, business changes, get over it :). Just don't end up playing whack a-mole:).


Here is the old-fashioned version from a previous simulation when we baked Toyota Kata into our retrospectives (2nd retro onwards as Kata is one experiment at a time), plus the Improvement Board tracking al the obstacles we burnt, all out learnings, and next steps:



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