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“Kanban is humane”. Kanban is respectful.

“There is no respect for others without humility in one’s self.” – Henri Frederic Amiel

One of the Kanban Change Management principles says: “Start with what you do now.” It’s all about respect – to process and people behind it. But what does it mean and how does it correspond with other Kanban elements?

Let’s look at the pieces that build respect picture, that we should follow:

  • Change Management Principles

  • Collaboration, Agreement and Respect – three of nine Kanban values

  • Sustainability Agenda

Change Management Principles

There are three Kanban Change Management Principles:

  1. Start with what you do now.

  2. Agree to pursue improvement through evolutionary change.

  3. Encourage acts of leadership at every level.

They summarize the approach you should take when introducing any kind of change into the process or organization: smooth, invisible, small-steps.

Respect the process which you have now, cause it works. Sometimes better, sometimes worse (eventually you want to change something), but it works somehow. What basically means that you don’t need to start from scratch and you don’t need to change everything at once. You can use your current (working!) process to build upon it. Respect people and their current roles. Be humble in changing the process which was created by you or the others who were here before you.

Speaking of what – be transparent in your initiatives and decisions. Don’t act behind people’s back, but rather get agreement on the way of improving. Don’t act rashly – take small steps and evolve rather than revolt.

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Dr. Seuss.

It’s not only a quote talking about children. This one should remind us that no matter where we are in the organization, everyone has the right to speak clearly, raise concerns and feel responsibility for change. We have to equally respect all people who we meet. And Kanban encourages taking leadership acts, if only you feel comfortable with that. No matter if you are an intern or you have 20 years of experience – the fact that you are in the place you are, gives you the right to be a leader of change and improvement.

Collaboration, Agreement and Respect – three of nine Kanban values

There are nine Kanban values and among them: collaboration, agreement and respect. They are strictly related to Change Management principles once again pointing out, what’s important when you introduce Kanban to your organization and life.

Kanban is all about people’s collaboration, working together, leveraging the group knowledge and using synergy to build better and add more value to what we do. Even growing in Kanban Maturity starts from personal boards to turn into teams and then organization boards, where more personas can meet and work.

Agreement is essential to be able to move through the process of constant change and achieve common goals. It’s important to try finding universal solutions on one hand, but still remembering our human right to differ – on the other. And it all comes down to…

… respect.

Respect is the basic, the most important of Kanban values, which stands as the foundations of the whole Kanban method and concept.

Sustainability Agenda

Out of three Kanban Agendas, Sustainability Agenda “is about finding a sustainable pace and improving focus.” (1)

Again, this agenda, similarly to values and principles, addresses the basic human need of respect. It happens that companies are so directed to customers’ needs that tey forget about their employees. It leads to overburden and unevenness of work, which violate safeness at the workplace, decrease motivation and work engagement.

What we should focus first is ensuring that we remove both mura and muri. When it happens, customer service usually improves immediately by decreasing time needed to complete an item, the number of work items completed and of course the morale of a team members and team cohesion.

I opened with the quote, so I will also close with one: “Kanban is humane, not just because it has noble ideals, not just because it leads to better conditions of people, but because it is designed to be implemented in the way that is consistently respectful.” (2)

(1) D. Anderson. A. Carmichael, “Essential Kanban condensed”, Seattle, 2016, p. 7

(2) M. Burros, “Kanban from the inside”, Sequim, 2014, p. 74

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