Team Yayasan week 2 - Transparency, culture and lower WIP

· March 8, 2014

This week was really, really interesting. The things that happened on the board and within the team was good but what happened with our interactions with others was both unexpected, a bit tough and also important. I’ll try to describe both things without revealing too much details about people and events.

Speaking of that, I got a comment about being this transparent with our work and there’s probably others thinking about it as well. Yes, I can see you. I can read your mind. Just kidding. But I have asked the team. I have checked the cards. There should not be anything too controversial on there. And finally, and most importantly, we are striving to introduce a greater degree of transparency and openness in our organization. I think it’s very important that we are transparent with our work. For us and for others that will follow us.

The last blog post got attention and that scared us at first. Dare we write what’s really happening? Yes - this will be our experiences, as they happen. It’s just us. But I think and hope that it will be interesting to follow.

Team Yayasan

We left the board as it was on the Friday and started the week by reminding ourselves about what we talked about on the retrospective:

  • Limit the number of items in Doing to max 14
  • Classify new items in S, M or L in effort.

The board looked like this when we started the week:

Board Image

Pretty soon we realized that rather than use the limit as a max we filled the Doing column to the limit all the time. This caused a problem in more than one way, since it did not only hurt our focus and the lead time for the items. But also we started to have a hard time, actually see items. Here you can see how things are hiding under each other.

Board Image

To make some more room we moved all the items from the Done-column over to a very simple report. Here’s the first version of it:

Report Image

One thing that is recurring and ruins our flow is that we have to wait for a lot of things. We have created a waiting column (Tunggu in Indonesian) but often it’s full of items (7 is our “record” so far).

To get some more control over what happened we decide to do two things with items in the waiting column:

  • First each item needs a sticky attached to it that states the reason for our waiting, or blockage
  • Secondly, each day we put a little dot on the waiting sticky to show how long we have waited. This creates an urgency to do something about the things that have been waiting for ………… number of days.

Here is how the Tunggu-column looked one day:

Waiting Column Image

Note that the Waiting-column is part of the Doing-column. The items in there are just waiting for someone and still take up our attention and focus. So with 6 items in Waiting we only had 8 items to work with.

The week ended early since 3 out of 5 members had to go to Jakarta. We decided to run the retrospective on the Thursday instead. Looking through the board we found that one item had been waiting a very long time. It had to do with reporting from the hospitals. We suspect that it’s tricky and complicated and hence set off a couple of hours next week to see if we can do something about that.

We also added a new criteria for putting items in the Todo-column: They need a “definition of done” so we know what we’re supposed to do with them. Preferably, we can answer “When this is done we have …”.

Some items are such in nature that we don’t know the definition of done when we start (investigations for example). We agreed to put timeboxes for them instead. One example was the timebox we put in place to find a simple way to do reporting.

Board Image

Finally, oh I longed for this, I went up to the board and changed our Work in process limit from 14 to 12. And then asked the team:

What does this mean for us?

And to my joy and surprise one of the team members said, without missing a beat:

That means that we will have to cooperate more to make sure that the things we focus on move across the board as we have decided.

Told you this was an awesome team!

Transparency and culture

I cannot pass this week without mentioning something about culture and how we hit some walls during the week. We, Team Yayasan, have Transparency as our guiding star and try to strive for more transparency (within the Salvation Army I might add, we’re not exposing ourselves outwards… oh well this blog maybe then). This is news and very scary to a lot of people around us.

During the last week, we had a couple of encounters where we thought we asked simple, non-threatening questions but were met with very strong reactions of protection and blaming others. Strange in our eyes. We also became a bit sad about this.

But on the Tuesday we had a chat around this in the team. We agreed that as long as we think that we are doing the right thing by pushing for more transparency, and we have the blessings from people above us - we could press on. Some resistance was expected. We just have to stand together and keep pushing.

I also went to a higher authority and asked if we were going down the wrong route and should back off. We shouldn’t.

I firmly think that transparency only brings good things in its tracks. I’m sure there’s a limit for it somewhere (legal of course) but I have yet to find it. It’s in any case a great guiding star and our team will keep going for it.

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