It is one of the hardest things to understand the value stream of your organization. An essential element of Kanban is to visualize this value stream. Kanban is a “tool” to improve that by understanding the mechanisms and effects that occur in the system by working with and observing the system. This is not a blog about Kanban. Read the book Kanban by David J. Anderson and you know what I am talking about.
In this blog I talk about the implementation of our Kanban system around initiatives. Initiatives are the most abstract elements in our portfolio management that we manage in a Kanban way. We implement our strategy through theme related initiatives that realize the desired outcome. See my previous blogs to understand what themes and initiatives represent in our portfolio management.
I do not talk about our strategy itself (if you are interested in the Digitec Galaxus strategy, go to one of our online shops following the links and try to figure out yourself ;-).
Derived from the strategy we identify themes, initiatives, activities, milestones, decisions to be taken on that way that most probably will implement our strategy. We call this our roadmap. The roadmap has a real physical representation following the story mapping ideas of Jeff Patton (see Jeff Pattons blog and I recommend to read his book User Story Mapping). Actually our roadmap is a story map filling eight meters of a wall two meters high in our roadmap room. It is built out of about three hundred sticky notes in three colors, yellow for stories, blue for milestones and red for top level decisions taken by the executive team.
|An eight meter roadmap (sorry - cards are not able to be read ;-)|
This roadmap wall is the idea generation engine, our seed feeding our innovation process. We identify themes, initiatives and dependencies standing in front of the roadmap and discussing about the next steps to go, about priorities, our capabilities, dependencies and time constraints. "We" is interesting. "We" are different groups of persons that walk by and reflect. So the wall gets its updates (...and there is still room to improve the update cycle) .
This is where the Kanban system starts: with ideas for themes and initiatives. As we identify a theme (could be one card in the roadmap), often very vague and unclear at start, it is decomposed into a first set of (one or two) initiatives with the goal to learn about the theme and to draw decisions about the further development (subsequent initiatives) of the theme. During the life cycle of a theme there are seeding initiatives, more conceptual initiatives with or without prototypes and spikes, implementing initiatives – all in parallel and prioritized against each other.
Well I have to confess: With prototyping and spikes in conceptual initiatives we still struggle a bit. At the moment there is too much concept work done compared to prototypes or spikes that clarify and verify requirements, assumptions, technical risks and usability. At least we identified this impediment. So we have the chance to improve. You see - the second topic we do have room to improve. Things are continuously changing and improving :-)
How we turn this story mapping wall into a Kanban System and how we implemented the Kanban System tool supported I will follow up in upcoming blogs.