Making Work Visible
Making Work Visible

Making Work Visible

Multitasking is a good way to screw up progress, (Location 294)

Tags: focus, multitasking

Note: .multitasking

Lean: Resolving the Efficiency Paradox, they define Lean as, “a strategy of flow efficiency with key principles of just-in-time and visual management.” (Location 350)

Tags: flow, lean

Note: .lean .flow flow efficiency, work visualisation and just in time

All it takes is a shift from haphazardly saying yes to everything to deliberately saying yes to only the most important thing at that time. And to do it visually. (Location 359)

Tags: prioritise

Note: .prioritise focus and work on the most important items

The solution is to design and use a workflow system that does the following five things:

- Make work visible.

- Limit work-in-progress (WIP).

- Measure and manage the flow of work.

- Prioritize effectively (this one may be a challenge, but stay with me—I’ll show you how).

- Make adjustments based on learnings from feedback and metrics. (Location 361)

Tags: favorite, kanban, flow

Note: .flow .kanban visualise, wip, measure cycle time, prioritise and continuous learning

The five thieves of time that prevent you from getting work done include: Too Much Work-in-Progress (WIP)—Work that has started, but is not yet finished. Sometimes referred to as partially completed work. Unknown Dependencies—Something you weren’t aware of that needs to happen before you can finish. Unplanned Work—Interruptions that prevent you from finishing something or from stopping at a better breaking point. Conflicting Priorities—Projects and tasks that compete with each other. This is exacerbated when you are uncertain about what the most important thing is to do. Neglected Work—Partially completed work that sits idle on the bench. (Location 393)

Tags: favorite, time thief, kanban

Note: .kanban timethief

Cycle time is the amount of elapsed time that a work item spends as work-in-progress. In addition, business value that could have been realized sooner gets delayed because of too much WIP. This is known as cost of delay. It’s a concept used to communicate value and urgency—a measure of the impact of time on the outcomes we want, such as customers buying our product this month instead of next month. (Location 448)

Tags: cost of delay, kanban

Note: .kanban .costofdelay

When you delay the delivery of a new feature because another request got bundled in with it, there’s a cost for the delay of that new feature. It could mean late feedback, less profit, or a missed sales lead opportunity. (Location 452)

Tags: cost of delay

Note: Scope increase introduces a cost of delay

WIP is a leading indicator of cycle time. The more items that are worked on at the same time, the more doors open up that allow dependencies and interruptions to creep in. (Location 464)

Tags: kanban, wip

Note: WIP is a leading indicator of cycle time. Cycle time increases when WIP increases

There is a relationship between the amount of WIP and cycle time—it’s called Little’s Law, where the average cycle time for finishing tasks is calculated as the ratio between WIP and throughput. (Location 469)

Tags: kanban, cycle time, wip

Thief Too-Much-WIP is stealing time from you when: Context switching is common: When computers context switch, the state of the process currently being executed is saved so that when it is rescheduled, the state can be restored to its correct spot. Because computers perform hundreds of context switches per second, it’s easy to believe that multiple tasks are performed in parallel, when in reality the central processing unit (CPU) is actually alternating or rotating between tasks at high speed. (Location 473)

Tags: wip, contextswitching

Note: .contextswitching

Flow requires a “do not disturb” ethos. (Location 491)

Tags: flow

Note: .flow

Work-in-progress and cycle time have a relationship. High WIP means that other items sit idle, waiting for attention longer. (Location 539)

Tags: wip

Note: .wip

Context switching, which wastes time, is a major consequence of too much WIP. (Location 540)

Tags: wip

Note: .wip

You know Thief Unknown Dependency is stealing time from you when: Coordination needs are high, and project managers run around trying to get everyone aligned. People aren’t available when you need them. A change in one part of the code/outline/plan unexpectedly changes something else. (Location 601)

Tags: dependency

This is the problem with unplanned work—it sets back planned work. It increases uncertainty in the system and makes the system less predictable as a result. (Location 639)

Tags: planning

Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do. —John Carmack (Location 687)

Tags: focus

Note: .focus

Longer cycle times delay the opportunity to receive vital feedback from customers about our work, which in turn creates a crevice for more thievery to sneak in. (Location 736)

Tags: cycle time

If everything is priority one, then nothing is a priority one, and everything takes too long. As Ross Garber says, “Many things may be important, but only one can be the most important.”1 It could be that the greatest value for the business today would be for you to go help someone else finish something instead of starting something new. (Location 737)

Tags: priority

Note: .priority many thing can be important but only one can be the most important

Busy people, however, do not signal productivity—delivered value does. (Location 779)

sunk cost fallacy. In The Principles of Product Development Flow, Donald Reinertsen suggests we should only consider the incremental investment needed to finish the project in comparison to its economic return. (Location 788)

We acquire more information through vision than through all the other senses combined. (Location 817)

Tags: visual, vision, learning

Note: .learning .vision we acquire most learning through vision

Making work visible is one of the most fundamental things we can do to improve our work because the human brain is designed to find meaningful patterns and structures in what is perceived through vision. (Location 831)

Another thing to consider when looking at the impact of relaying information visually is that two-thirds of the population are visual-spatial learners. Visibility matters when a majority of people think in pictures rather than in words. It’s also important to know that this isn’t a learned preference, visual-spatial learners have a different brain organization than auditory-sequential learners. They learn better by seeing than by hearing. (Location 869)

Tags: visual

The people doing the work should always be involved with designing their workflow management system for two reasons: It helps ensure you have the right number and types of categories that cover the needs and demand of your entire team. When people participate in creating something, they have ownership, which motivates them to invest in solving problems and achieving desired outcomes. (Location 958)

Tags: kanban

When deciding the number of categories, I’ve found that somewhere between three and seven is good. Any more than that and it becomes hard to manage, because for each category, you may have different rules, different metrics, and potentially different workflows. (Location 962)

Tags: kanban

Note: Have 3-7 categories on the Kanban board

Here’s a sample list that is in no way exhaustive but should get you up and running: Card ID Header Title Description Assignee(s) Comment section Tags for query capability Icons for extra visibility Priority Subtasks or connected card fields Date field for date driven requests (Location 973)

Making work visible is one of the most fundamental things we can do to improve our work because the human brain is designed to find meaningful patterns and structures in what is perceived through vision. (Location 1046)

Tags: kanban

Note: .kanban humans are visual creatures, make things visible and visual so they can be understood

Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time. —Steve Uzzell (Location 1050)

Tags: multitasking

Note: .multitasking

WIP into three major categories based on who requested the work: Silver bullets are urgent requests to do something right away, usually initiated by someone in a leadership position. They are in a category of their own because of their urgent priority (perceived or otherwise). Business requests, including feature work, content, and design, are the things IT does that “the business” promotes, manages, tracks, and is heavily involved with. Teamwork is the stuff IT does that teams initiate, such as dealing with bugs, technical debt, security, platform upgrades, and maintenance. (Location 1078)

Small teams can move fast, but if there are dependencies between them, you pay the price of not being in a position to move fast as a whole organization. (Location 1293)

When unplanned work is made visual, other people can see it and understand why work isn’t done—and steps can be taken to prevent, or at least limit, unplanned work from taking over in the future. (Location 1339)

Knowing the ratio of unplanned work to planned work helps when planning your workload capacity. Why? Because you’ll have an idea of how to set WIP limits to accommodate important, unexpected, and urgent work. If every week there is 25–50% unplanned work, then allocate 25–50% of your WIP for potential unplanned work. (Location 1342)

Tags: kanban

Note: Look at the ratio of planned to unplanned work

There will always be unplanned work, therefore you should plan for unplanned work. Knowing the ratio of unplanned work to planned work helps you plan workload capacity. (Location 1399)

Tags: planning, kanban

Note: .kanban plan for unplanned work

Many things may be important, but only one can be the most important. —Ross Garber (Location 1403)

Tags: priority

Note: .priority

The visibility on interruptions was attention getting—and not just because it captured how often people were poking their heads into offices with unplanned requests but because it also showed the lacking prioritization policy. (Location 1412)

the projects were reprioritized based on the VP’s input, a classic prioritization strategy known as HiPPO (highest paid person’s opinion). (Location 1429)

Weighted shortest job first (WSJF): WSJF gives preference to the shortest job with the highest CoD. WSJF is calculated by dividing the CoD by the job duration. The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) model uses a variant of WSJF, which attempts to include time critically. (Location 1450)

Tags: prioritisation

CoD boils down to three things: Reduced revenue or business value (CoD is not always about money) Increased costs The sum of the CoD of other work that is dependent on the work we are calculating CoD (Location 1480)

Tags: cost of delay, cod

Note: .cod missed revenue,increased costs, the sum of cod of other work dependent on the work

CoD has to do with two constantly changing variables: value and time. CoD asks the question,

- What value is lost by the delay of something?

- How much will we lose if we deliver this thing twelve months later? (Location 1501)

Tags: cost of delay, cod

Note: .cod

The line of commitment is a vertical line before a specific state that signals a commitment on your part to do the work. The tasks in the backlog are options, and they may never get done. But once work passes the line of commitment, it explicitly signals that it’s been prioritized and is moving forward. It is no longer an option but a fully agreed upon and prioritized piece of work. (Location 1504)

Tags: kanban

Note: .kanban

Neglected work is another term for partially completed work. Consider a partially completed bridge. It is already expensive, but it provides zero value until it’s finished. (Location 1577)

Tags: kanban

Note: .kanban partially completed work provides little to no value

Revenue-protecting work is a major target of Thief Neglected Work. Because the business is often unaware of what’s involved in keeping a system secure, reliable, and functioning, revenue-generating work is considered a higher priority than intangible maintenance and sustainment work. (Location 1582)

Tags: maintenance, tech debt, favorite

Note: You need to maintain software so that you protect existing revenue

In many companies, short-term revenue-generating work is top-of-mind for business people, but the long-term health of the platform system is rarely contemplated. As a result, revenue protection work takes a backseat until something blows up, such as a distributed denial-of-service attack or a corrupt finance database that brings down credit card fulfillment. (Location 1583)

Note: Revenue generation work is usually prioritised above revenue protection work

Here’s some language for you to use: Subject: Work Item # nnnnn (enter title of item here). Invitees: The creator of the work item and the current assignee of the work item. Location: Dominica’s desk (or video chat if remote). Description: This work item is now famous. It’s the oldest WIP in the system. Can we please take 10 minutes directly after stand-up tomorrow to see what it would take to close it? Many thanks! Dominica (Location 1598)

Remember, zombie projects are low-value projects that nevertheless consume time, energy, and money. Killing them helps reduce neglected work and allows you to deliver more important projects faster and with fewer interruptions. (Location 1607)

Tags: priotitise, focus

Note: Reduce unimportant work by killing zombie projects

Stop Starting, start finishing! (Location 1616)

Tags: flow, kanban

Note: .kanban .flow

Think of a box of cereal sitting on a grocery store shelf. Corn flakes don’t provide any value to Kellogg’s until a customer buys them. Like inventory sitting on a shelf, a newly developed feature or a bug fix doesn’t provide much value to the requestor until they can get their hands on it. Figure 30. Done Vs. Done Done This is where the Done Done lane comes into play. Teams who want visibility on work that has yet to provide value to someone (either a customer or internal team member) use the single Done lane to visualize “inventory” work. Work only moves to the Done Done lane once it has achieved its real goal. (Location 1653)

Tags: donedone

Note: Value is only realised when it is in the hands of customers

Multilevel boards provide a big-picture view of workflow across the organization as a whole. (Location 1733)

Becoming more predictable means we need to talk about probability and how, once we are able to shift to a more probabilistic approach, expectations around timeframes can be improved. It’s all about the expectations. Setting better expectations makes leadership happy and helps make those uncomfortable stand-ups and retrospectives surprisingly fun. (Location 1775)

Tags: expectations, planning

Note: .planning .expectations

The odds of being predictable decrease when WIP constantly in-creases and flow times elongate. Remember—WIP is a measure of how many different things are being juggled at the same time. Unlike most other metrics, WIP is a leading indicator. The more WIP there is in the pipeline, the longer things take to complete, period. (Location 1849)

Tags: wip, kanban

Note: .kanban .wip

Little’s Law to understand the math behind why WIP extends completion times. Recall that lead time equals WIP over throughput. Given WIP is the numerator of that fraction, we know that when WIP goes up, so does lead time. (Location 1852)

Tags: wip, kanban

Note: .kanban .wip

Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: (Location 1855)

Tags: toread

Note: .toread

Attempting to load people and resources to 100% capacity utilization creates wait times. The higher utilization, the longer the wait, especially in fields with high variability, like IT. (Location 1881)

Tags: utilisation, kanban

Note: .kanban

queueing theory. When we look at the math, we can see why the single most important factor that affects queue size is capacity utilization. The reason we care about queue size is because the bigger the queue, the longer things take. (Location 1891)

Tags: queueing

Note: .queueing theory the biggest factor effecting queue time is capacity utilization

As we move from 60–80% utilization, the queue doubles. As we move from 80–90% utilization, the queue doubles again. And again from 90–95%.3 Once we get past 80% utilization, the queue size begins to increase almost exponentially, slowing things down to a grinding halt as it pushes 100% capacity utilization. (Location 1898)

Tags: queueing, queue

Note: .queue

We don’t let our servers get to 100% capacity utilization, so let’s not do that to ourselves. (Location 1905)

Tags: slack time, buffer

Note: Build slack into the system

When people describe situations in the absence of compelling evidence in order to persuade others to agree with them or take some kind of action, they’re relying on their own credibility. (Location 1911)

Tags: data, persuasion

Note: when you describe situations without data/evidence you are relying on your credibility

“When will it be done?” Due dates don’t take wait time into consideration. And the problem is usually not in the process time—it’s in the wait time. Focus on the wait time and not on the process time. (Location 1917)

Focusing on efficiency produces better cost accounting results for large batch-size projects, such as manufacturing commercial airplane engines or publishing books. In knowledge work, however, problems with coordination costs grow nonlinearly with batch size. Old school management assumptions about economy of scale do not apply to knowledge work problems such as software development. (Location 1929)

The reduction of batch size is a critical principle of Lean manufacturing. Small batches allow manufacturers to slash work in process and accelerate feedback, which, in turn, improves cycle times, quality, and efficiency. Small batches have an even greater advantage in software development because code is hard to see and spoils quickly if not integrated into production. (Location 1943)

Note: Smaller batch size allows you to get feedback faster

I’m going to argue here that time theft should be measured by the things that cause the problems in the first place and prevent your teams from delivering quality work quickly: too much WIP, unplanned work, neglected work, conflicting priorities, and unknown dependencies. These are the causes behind mediocre work done too slowly. (Location 1965)

Tags: product development, kanban

Instead of going around the room, we set a policy that the board must be updated and accurate prior to 9:00 a.m. This allowed people to simply look at the board to see the latest status, and the stand-up could be spent focusing on risk and uncertainty. (Location 2114)

Tags: kanban

Note: .kanban get people to update the board themselves before standup

One last comment on the topic of meetings is the acknowledgment that the regular cadence of a meeting held at the same time, in the same location is extremely helpful for all involved. This relatively simple guideline reduced uncertainty for thirty-five expensive people. (Location 2134)

Tags: meetings

Note: .meetings have a regular cadence

Individually Named Swimlanes . The results of a team subjected to begrudgingly using their boss’s kanban board design. (Location 2208)

Tags: kanban

Note: Dont name have swimlanes according to names!

People felt they couldn’t touch work outside their lane. Instead of being encouraged to broaden toward T-shaped skills (Figure 51), they concentrated on greater specialization, which made Thief Unknown Dependencies happier. (Location 2219)

Note: If people are held accountable for swimlane they will be incentivised to not help others

I heard someone (my boss, actually) say, “Do it right the first time.” I instinctively knew that wasn’t right. The only time anyone does anything right the first time is when they follow directions given by someone else who has done it many times before. The first time doing anything is an experiment. And so it is with kanban. The first board design attempt is an experiment to help you discover how to improve your workflow. (Location 2247)

Tags: experience

Note: .experience nobody does it right the first time

Never let formal education get in the way of your learning. —Mark Twain (Location 2267)

Tags: quotes, learning

Note: .learning .quotes

One day, eBay designers decided that a bright yellow background wasn’t cool anymore, so they replaced it with a white one. Customers didn’t like it one bit. So many people complained that eBay rolled the change back to yellow. Then, over a period of several months, they modified the background color one shade of yellow at a time, until all the yellow was gone and had been replaced with white.1 Hardly a single user noticed. This is the power of gradual change—it gets met with less resistance as people are only asked to adapt to one small piece at a time rather than to everything all at once. Satisfy people with gradual change instead of dramatic change. (Location 2301)

Tags: change

Note: .change gradually make changes

Other challenges with rolling out a new way of working: Limiting WIP is scary and not intuitive. Limiting WIP means people can’t say yes all the time, and this makes them uncomfortable. But if WIP limits are ignored, think through what will happen to your flow time and chaos levels. Select a WIP limit that is doable but challenges you to say no some of the time. There’s always more demand than capacity. Be wary of falling back into the old habit of starting everything because of the pressure to say yes to everything. Remember, WIP limits are your friend and the key to getting the most important work done. People who are afraid may not cooperate with the level of visualization you are seeking. Leadership should strive to relieve the fear, so people are comfortable with transparency. (Location 2307)

Tags: wip

Scrum and kanban can work well together. They are more alike than they are different. Differences include release cadence, roles, and the type of constraints themselves. Scrum uses a time-box (usually two weeks) to limit demand, while kanban uses the WIP limit to constrain demand. (Location 2321)

Tags: kanban, scrum

Note: .scrum .kanban scrum uses time box to limit demand whereas kanban uses wip to limit demand

I’ve experienced firsthand the power to influence decisions using metrics. I’ve gotten budget and headcount approvals and agreement to pursue one direction over another because of metrics. (Location 2349)

Tags: metrics, kanban

Note: Metrics influence decisions heavily

AGILE: Incremental and iterative improvements done on a regular cadence; an alternative to traditional project management methods, suggests frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans. (Location 2377)

Tags: agile

Note: .agile

CAPACITY UTILIZATION: The percentage of the total possible capacity that is used. If a person has the capacity to work 10 hours a day and they work 7 hours, then their capacity utilization is 70%. (Location 2382)

Tags: kanban, capacity

Note: .capacity .kanban

LEAD TIME: A measure of the elapsed time it takes to work on a request from when it was first requested to when it was delivered to the customer. (Location 2409)

Tags: kanban

Note: .kanban

WEIGHTED SHORTEST JOB FIRST (SWJF): A prioritization method where the job that has the shortest duration is processed before other jobs of equal value. (Location 2435)

Tags: kanban, prioritisation

Note: .prioritisation .kanban