I had a spell in a company where I was hired to sort things out in technical department (development, quality assurance and project management). I went there with a head full of ready-to-apply ideas how to solve issues I’d heard about. One of the most important things I’ve learned there is you can’t find the right cure unless you know the disease very well. And you can’t learn what the disease is unless you get dirty going into the middle of the mess.
Pretty similar lesson I got from our Kanban story. I think this message is often lost between discussing a few simple Kanban rules, Kanban board etc. The message is: start with mapping what you have; don’t try to change the process on a day one. Reason is simple: get dirty going into the middle of the mess and then you’ll learn what you should really change in the first place.
I know it’s tempting to start adjusting surrounding world to the vision you have in your head. Every now and then I feel that whenever I find myself in new environment. But I learned to resist. First, the vision we have in our heads on the day one will be changing over time and it will be changing really fast, especially at the beginning. Second, the opinion we have about surrounding reality is wrong, at least most of the time.
So yes, my advice is: don’t change anything. Don’t change anything unless you see everyday proofs that it has to be changed. Don’t change anything unless keeping things as they are is a real pain in the ass. Don’t change anything unless you’re pretty sure you aren’t seriously screwing things up because of your limited knowledge.
It doesn’t mean you have to wait long until you start improving things. Just be sure you’ve got your hands dirty before you do that.
In my case you can count this as a part of a story of parachute manager since that’s exactly what I do now. However it works the same every time you join new environment, no matter whether it is a new team, new project, new customer, new company, new method or new people.