LKCE14 was full of great sessions and talks, and I saw a few common themes emerging and sticking out. This blog post briefly summarizes the essence of the conference that I took away. More details on sessions I attended to follow.
To start with: Kanban itself is the rather boring part (to manage the flow of work). Yeah I know, don’t shout at me. But Kanban indeed is quite simple, which is a good thing, isn’t it? I also noticed that there were practically no sessions around Kanban basics… So obviously, it wouldn’t be possible to fill a two-day-conference about a really boring topic, so where’s the spice?
Well, for one thing, in dealing with all the things that are set into motion when implementing lean / Kanban practices, and when existing ways of working become challenged and new value sets evolve. The area of „soft“ but in reality often really hard factors such as awareness, fueled by transparency, mindfulness etc. came up frequently. When it comes to leadership, I really like this definition by Jerry Weinberg that I’ve heard three times there (and which I have memorized now):
„Leadership is the process of creating an environment in which people become empowered.“
It also gets really exciting when you implement state-of-the-art Product Development, enabled by a respective Kanban system. The stuff that Mary and Henrik presented in their keynotes was really cool. There, Kanban will help you doing work in small batches, using empirical data for learning and forecasting, and most of all get really valuable products out of it! Continuous Delivery is another ingredient, and they all seem to be blending together well. R.I.P. good old release cycle!
It seems to me that (particularly through decreased batch sizes all over) the importance of projects is about to diminish, morphing in many cases into a continuous stream of product development.
Having said all of that, there is a tiny little downer…. As one attendee expressed in the open discussion on Wednesday, „we’re pretty far ahead“: We are sharing and learning quite advanced stuff from the realm of Lean, Kanban, Product Management, Software Development here. Back at our jobs we’re working hard to give our teams epiphanies (see – didn’t say convince them (1)) about rather basic things, e.g. that WIP limits are indeed good for them. Well I hope the joint forces of the community, supported by other developments in the field will raise the overall level of practices up gradually.
To sum up, I take away a lot of the spirit and good energy, and ideas for how I can work with my clients‘ teams. Thanks to all for a great conference at a superb venue. Looking forward to next year’s LKCE!
(1) this is referring to Jim Benson’s session on convincing others to limit WIP – greatly recommended!