OK, I admit it. This is a biased post. But you should have known. I’m sharing our journey with Kanban for more than a year already and the journey itself is even longer. And I’m still not fed up with all that Kanban thing. But then, after days like today, I realize why I appreciate Kanban that much.
Majority of you was in this situation before – you saw your team working on tasks as planned when someone came with that super-important, top-priority pre-sales project which totally required that your team added widget foo to some application. And it had to be done exactly then.
What I used to do in those situations was anything between panicky search for least loaded engineer and panicky explanations why we couldn’t do that before requested deadline. Either way the word “panicky” was involved. In every situation the threat was the same: we had a lot of pre-planned work to do and needed no additional distracter so what we really hoped for was to get the salesman hell out with his damn pre-sales project.
And now? Now I just put the task on the top of the stack. Well, I do if it is important enough of course. Then the magic happens. In vast majority of cases you get someone to start working on your damn widget tomorrow. Day after tomorrow if you’re less lucky. Glad I could help you that fast. Note: I didn’t tell you “at the beginning of the next sprint.” But now, the best part.
It doesn’t ruin the way we work. We aren’t distracted by your drop in. It is the process we follow which allows us to deal with the issue so quickly.
As I think about that, we hate all those unplanned tasks not because they’re unplanned (we know they’re going to happen after all) but because they force us to change our initial plans. If we had a framework which helps us to embrace those tasks in a way which is acceptable for our dear stakeholders (what a nice way to call salespeople, isn’t it?) wouldn’t that be worth trying?
So what are you waiting for? Go try damn Kanban!
Going to the meeting to tell business folks that you’re going to do your best adding all those crazy things they think they need to get the deal (and not lying on the same time) and then getting back to the team knowing that you aren’t going to change all their plans is priceless.
And that’s the beauty of Kanban.