At least once a week I hear someone say something like ‘Our people like Scrum as it gives them a goal to drive towards, in Kanban there is no goal and they feel like they are on a hamster wheel’

What a load of rubbish!! There is absolutely no reason you cannot have a goal. When working on deliveries they are a great thing to have to keep the team driven and to understand if we are on track. They might not be applicable for all types of work that you do. But you can decide that!

There is also a cadence called Delivery Planning that can help us in this space.

The Delivery Planning cadence is to ‘Plan and monitor deliveries to customers’ In fact, this is actually my favourite cadence. I know, I am super geeky!

So if I was working on a new release of the company website, I might set a goal to say that by the end of the month, we will launch the new blog page and highlight all the work items that need to be completed to be able to meet the goal. We would use data, forecasts and the service team to tell us whether that is achievable.

I can then use the Delivery Planning cadence to:

  1. Understand how we are doing towards the goal, and the probability we are going to hit it
  2. Decide mitigating actions if goals are look unachievable
  3. Make decisions on what to release and when
  4. Change the class of service if something now needs to be expedited

In terms of execution of this cadence, I usually swap it out with a Daily Kanban. So once a week on a Wednesday I do this instead of a Daily Kanban for 30 mins. You can pick whatever day, frequency and duration you want. Really depends on your deadline, dependencies and the criticality of your work.

It is typically the Service Delivery Manager who facilitates this, but I like to empower everyone once they have seen me do it and feel comfortable to lead themselves.

I ask the service team(s) to look at our board and confirm the goal to them. This might be one team, or multiple including any external third parties. We have a short discussion about our throughput and our current lead times. I then give them some time to put on a probability of us completing that work in line with the goal. I use the percentages of:

The team will then map these onto the board:

If you use an electronic tool, adding them to the first part of the title is a good work around. You can also set up nice filters around the goals.

This then immediately gives me a view on where we are on the delivery. Items that are at 100% or 75% I probably don’t need to talk about in great detail, other than to understand when we hope to make live so we can tell the stakeholders and organise anything like outages (if you work in tech).

Items 50% or lower (shown in orange) will need a more detailed conversation.

We want to understand:

  1. What do we now know that is causing a delay to this?
  2. What can we do to get back on track?
  3. Will changing the Class of Service to Expedite help?
  4. Implications or risks to other things?
  5. Predicted delivery date if we cannot influence in any way

One of my best conversations with a client was when a team discovered that a work item was not going to be completed because the developer only worked 2 days a week! How did no one know that? and why did he not mention this?

By the end of the conversation, I am going to have a better view of what is possible and can talk to stakeholders about the items we are going to deliver and when. Sometimes called the Delivery Manifest in Kanban. We will also have a list of actions to get us back on track and/or the ability to be able to manage the customers expectations if something is going to be missed. We can then start talking about reducing scope for example.

I sometimes think ‘Well surely in the Daily Kanban we should pick up on these things?’ You would be surprised how much extra comes out in these conversation when you start asking service teams to look at probability or sometimes just gut instinct.

After this cadence and your conversations with all relevant parties, you will most likely end up updating the teams roadmap/plan. Oh yes, we can also have plans in Kanban!

So, you definitely can have goals in Kanban and we want to be reviewing our work against that on a regular basis. There is no reason you cannot start the above cadence today! You can even use it with Scrum.

Give it a go and let me know how you get on and what corkers you find!

We talk more about the Cadences in Kanban during the ‘Kanban System Improvements’ Class.