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May 15, 2013 / KaTe

A tale of a support team – when Scrum leads to Kanban – Episode 3 – The Kanban

You can read previous episodes here and here

So here we are, the team is doing fine, and they fixed all of their major problems, so why conduct a revolution?

The answer is: optimization.kaizen

Scrum is a fantastic tool for enabling agile; making sure everyone gets the mechanics and bringing some order into chaos. And that’s what happened. So, if we have an understanding team who knows what they are doing, Scrum is not needed anymore. It’s too heavy for flowing work.  Since they fixed everything big, the system went into the maintenance mode. No large functionalities were to be added, mainly small elements, configuration and fixes. New technologies were supposed to be supported by a new solution currently built next door.

Optimization kicked in. Let’s see what they did. First, they visited the admins team (exactly this one: Combining Kanban and Scrum) and made themselves familiar with what they came up with. Their conclusions led to a nice Scrum-Kanban hybrid that was becoming lighter and lighter every week.

First, they took the sprint backlog out. It was kept in an electronic form on a server so that clients could see, but it proved to be useless to them, so the team decided to take up a physical board. Boy, I wish I had a picture – a fantastic, color coded board, with magnets, people and an impressive palm tree on the back. Suddenly everything became clear and people had a nice excuse to stand up and stretch 🙂

Second change was sprints – they resigned from them and started the morning 15 minute plannings and daily standups mashup. Soon they took no more than 15 minutes together.

Their work started flowing, but they never forgot about retrospectives. They were as regular as ever – every week, in the meeting room.

Soon they started lowering the WIP limits on their work and introducing some new people to the team.

Their lead time started to drop and improvements came into place.

But then this is not a fairy tale either. Someone from the management didn’t like that this team was different. Few months later they were forced to go back to Scrum. It wasn’t bad, but it was a heavy process after months of the lightest framework they could imagine. Later it came out that the management needed more visibility, because the system that was supposed to replace this one failed. And of course this system is still supported and works fine 🙂

So why did they adopt Kanban and why it worked?

First – they knew what they were doing. They worked through a tough time together and became a strong team able to self-organize.

Second – it was their conscious decision. Nobody forced this solution on them.

Third – they drove their own transition. I only supported their efforts. This way they were in control and could probe what worked and what didn’t.

Fourth – they learned from other’s mistakes – the first thing they did was to visit a team that did something similar and exchange experiences.

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