Intentional Planning Kanban

Intentional Planning is a powerful and simple method for bringing clarity, outcomes and purpose back to your life. With practice and a cycle of learning, Intentional Planning Kanban cleans out the to do clutter, plugs the energy drains and allows you to get your life back.

Unfortunately we do plan too much, too sporadically or reactively to others everyday. When we feel overwhelmed we write to do lists and we manage to get a few things done for a while but then it all piles up again. Or we email ourselves more ‘to do’ things because I can’t get to that right now; however, magically, in the future my to do list will disappear and I could do it later. Reactive planning often has us stumbling through others demands and our own last minute forgotten must dos; an un-sustainable way of life that depletes our energy and stains our opportunity for joy.

All this stress is held in our heads and many are reaching boiling points of dispare. Our brain is an amazing organ that serves us incredibly well however we either treat it like it’s a magical wizardy mailbox should be able to perform magic and make everything OK with the blink of an eye.  I have been tempted to ask people to start posting requests to:

Get Something Done
88 Me @mybrain
!wheneveryoulike #nevergetsemptied
$stressloadingup *can’trememberyesterday
Postcode: #2000&sometimetomorrow

Magic brain coding didn’t work for me either, I was still lift with all those to dos’.

I really needed to simplify even further planning to get back ownership of my time. What does work for me is a clear framework that visualises all that heavy workload and demand into an easy to do Intentional Plan.

  1.  Capture:
    • Make every to do thought, request visual and tangible in one place so it’s not sitting in your head,
    • Build a real touchable tangible in-box
  2. Clarify:
    • Group all into themes, categories or roles
    • What’s the pattern or pairs in your lists
  3. Outcome:
    • what’s the result you specifically want
    • Can you measure it, achievable, tangible outcome
  4. Purpose:
    • why is this theme important to you?
    • Whats it giving you? why does this satisfy you? Why is it in your best interest?
  5. Prioritise:
    • Whats the 20% that’s going to get me the 80% difference? Which have the most beneficial impact
    • Whats the essence of effort to achieve the beneficial effort
  6. Action:
    • Will doing this myself be the drain of life, wealth and health – can I outsource for the same outcome?
    • How can I get leverage – timebox, focus on one thing, eliminate distraction?
  7. Done:
    • Literally tick off the item!!! Close it off in your mind.
    • What’s left over – can be it cancelled or move to the inbox
  8. Learn:
    1. What was the outcome – does it match the intention?
    2. What can shift to gain improvement next time?

“activity without purpose is the drain to your life, drain to your wealth, drain to your purpose” Tony Robbins


Agile Coach Camp Canada 2013 Snapshots from a far…

As much as I would love to travel the world only attending agile conferences and agile unconferences I simply can’t. Instead i’ll review the outputs and create learning snapshots to add to my coaching tool kit. These are some favourites from the Agile Coach Camp held in Canada June 2013.

Note: If you recognise any of your words in these snapshots please let me know so that I can assign you credt. Some of the videos don’t give presenter names.

How to teach anything;
1. The first lesson of teaching is to teach them where they are at
2. We need to discover what their hurdles are – emotional & knowledge
3. Understand what their motives – work with them to find that motivation
Motivation is where you will get the engagement
All learning is made through meaningful association

How many coaches does it take to change a light bulb?
1. Well, it depends
2. Why do you ask?
3. Who’s willing to pay, i’m tired of freebies
4. Who has the problem
5. Do you mind if I ask you 5 questions first
6. Lets visualise this
7. How do you know the light bulb is the problem
8. How do you know it’s fixed
9. We need to add some disciplines to this so we can scale
10. Do you know what your organisation culture is?

“Solve problems, real problems and don’t just focus on agile as the only solution…cause I just want to make the world suck a little less”

“What ever you are scared to do on stage – is exactly what you should do! Is there anything in your life, in this conference come up and do it. The more you get out of your comfort zone, the more you’ll get out of it.”

10 steps to proper motorcycleing cornering, and leaning into the corners of your life – using motorcycling as a metaphor

1. position yourself so you don’t catch your toe
2. prepare your body before the corner
3. use counter-force to lean into the corner
4. set your sites on the next horizon
5. and release into it

“As a coach we ask questions that allow the student to come up with the answer.” (Questions that lead to the insight needed for the student to learn.)

Using Kanban to simplify and save time on complex enterprise integration projects

Often the introduction of new methodologies and change programs are overwhelming for important professionals whom have no capacity for “another fandangle change movement” as a wonderful engineer once told me. He is quite right! All too often agile change programs are directed upon people without; compartmentalising time to complete current expectations, time to learn, and time to practice the new introduced methods.

Kanban BoardThe example below is based on an engagement with a very small and extremely important Environment & Configuration Team supporting multiple project teams through releases every 8 weeks across an 8 digit valued delivery program of work. Often these operation teams are the engines that can’t stop; they service multiple managers, teams and departments; and the last thing they (think they) want right now is to give precious time working with (another) Lean Agile coach. Add to that boiling mix of gurgling soup was a built up agile coaching resistance. I was the fourth Coach brought into to assist because previous adoptions hadn’t achieved fluidity; the combination of high demand, complex conditions, and conflicting relations had burnt through the well intentioned previous coaches.

As coaches we know that time invested in Lean and Agile methods is time exponentially returned; however, even after reviewing the evidence, many people are literally too stressed to consider new ways of working.

“I can’t make the old way work after all this time, and they said that was a new better way of working back then too!”

So I decide to go with the flow. If that was there world, then I became in rhythm with it, and rather than interrupt it with new ways of working I decided to add a new beat that was in compliment to the flow of work they had to maintain.

First I sat with them – there home was my home. I observed their world carefully – the patterns and streams of work in flow. I listened, and listened to assure that I truly understood what was happening. I listened to what was truly important to these guys and then in a briefing to the Solution Manager on the approach and why he will get value for endorsing my coaching, it came out almost like a whilted hope that had long ago become impossible. One of the guys said “I’d just love to get home to dinner with my son at least once a week”. There it was, the underlying “why this is valuable to me”. Without that why as a coach you won’t get people buying tickets to your agile journey. That become our commitment we would all work for.

Secondly, with managerial nod and a very human aspiration I negotiated just 15 minutes a day to start adding in all that good healthy agile stuff!

15 minutes a day is initially not a daunting amount of time to give up, to start focus on learning, and it also became the most important time of the day as it set the focus and created opportunity to continuously improve. (As a coach it was excellent as it also trained me to be very succinct and relevant in the teachings during that short time.)  First it was 15 minutes of listening daily (in person, fact was at that time I was 80% listening, watching, learning about them and 20% coaching).

As the days progressed the team were able to expand their ‘learning listening’ to take on doing personal kanban – a wonderfully simple Lean framework to initiate agile principles and a good coaching engagement.  Stage by stage, day by day I guided the team through visualising ALL their work, and to build understanding of the demand tunnels that previously drove their work. Identifying where they create value, and how much they do to fix failures. They practiced flow through concepts, experimenting with their WIPs. They achieved an extraneous amount of work in their first month. Not necessarily a massive chunk greater overall, that wasn’t important. They did it without having to do the normal amount of overtime.  Not only did they surprise themselves, the key reward was being able to sit back and actually see their achievements on the wall, share those achievements, understand their capacity and start to go home proud.  Previous to seeing their accomplishments visualised on the wall they stated “I’d just go home and pass out on the coach wandering if I was ever going to get on top of it all”.

Over the second month the team tested out concepts of focus, noise deflection, prioritisation models, retrospection and request methods to really hone their self organising skills. The 15 minutes would occasionally expand as the team needed. The beautiful thing was that the time extension was their choice based on their needs. They were experiencing a return on their 15min time investment for themselves and as a coach I was accessible, available and pulled the knowledge they needed when they needed it. If I didn’t know the answers on the spot I would research, investigate and find the resources or people that they needed.

In the third month the team felt confident enough to initiate their own program group stand-ups. The team pulled together the key doers from the multiple areas they serviced. The content focus of the stand-up was their shared work area. In essence the team – who three months earlier was too under the pump to learn Lean & Agile methods – was now hosting their own stand-ups, running an improvements backlog and teaching others what they had learnt 15 minutes a day.

In my following articles I’ll share how they become the base rhythm by which everyone else followed, and the third key element in their journey, Continuous Integration successes.

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