Product development standards are pretty high
The current tech product development madness as well as competition have raised the project management standards high. The customers become almost spoilt (from the positive side) about the quality of tech tools they use. These trends set new pressures for product teams not only to develop superior products, but also build them in the most efficient manner. That’s why managerial practices become relevant and directly related to the outcome of the development team.
This article is inspired by Diego Pereira – a PM from Brazil and is intended to spark discussions about Kanban as well as share experiences about the best PM practices.
Bearing the need for market validation and user feedback in mind, many managers move away from traditional planning to more flexible Agile practice like Kanban. It’s visual, it’s minimal, it’s easy to understand and it is engaging. However, these are just the surface benefits of this managerial practice.
One of the best summaries of the values Kanban provides is given by Diego Pereira himself: “I love Kanban because it allows me to not have project management in my product team”.
Traditional management and long-term planning demands for specific deadlines in highly uncertain environment and therefore is risky. The PM is forced to focus on proper forecasting and mitigating the consequences related. As opposed to that, Kanban focuses value driven development and making sure the product built is actually providing with benefits.
Product vs Process
Traditional management puts much focus on the product as well as the project. It associates all the actions, learnings and improvements with something, which comes and go (products, projects). As opposed to that, Kanban first of all addresses the roots of performance – the process. It forces the team to dedicate attention and effort to improve the process in such a way, that product/project fixes would occur naturally as a consequence of the improved process. In this way the team is building solid ground for continuous and repetitive high quality product development.
Your flow – your values
The Kanban driven emphasis on the development process shapes the whole identity of a team. It becomes part of your culture. Kanban conveys such values as user orientation, focus on delivering value, constant improvement and “hands-on” approach. It also helps to focus on market validation and objective user feedback as opposed to biased personal opinions. However, the opposite relation is also relevant – the process should reflect your company’s values, so make sure these elements are aligned.
Once again the flow takes important part of the Kanban methodology. Even if it sounds self evident, it’s something many teams fail to execute. Not only some of them do not learn from mistakes and improve the way they work, but also they fall into the natural trap of fixing the problem as opposed to solving the root causes for it.
Indeed, the shift of focus towards root causes or the processes, which led building a product, having a problem is more expensive and takes more time in the short term, but definitely reaps great benefits in the long run. Kanban lets you do one of the suggestions expressed by a research of 50 great CEOs by Pat Brans – “Build systems, which work themselves” and “Solve class of problems as opposed to a single one”.
Goals reached – team motivated
Finally, one of the greatest benefits of Kanban is simply getting things done. The system forces you to develop shorter, more tangible and realistic goals, increasing the goal conversion. Yet, it does not necessarily specify the ways to those goals. That not only helps to transit from one product development phase to another, but also increases the motivation of the whole team. The team spirit is enhanced when it reaches the milestones and also the employees become more intrinsically motivated when they get a goal, but are free to choose their own ways to achieve it.
To sum up, even looking relatively easy and minimalistic Kanban is a powerful methodology, empowering many teams with the attitude to build great products and most importantly great processes under, which superior tech tools can be built. Kanban has greater implications for the whole team such as improved processes, spread of culture, increased goal achievement ratio and enhanced motivation of the team.