More than colourful post-its

Back from London with a lot of amazing impressions I would like to make a short recap and share my highlights.

We only spent one week in London — the top venue for content strategist and UX designers — but these days were packed with visits at leading agencies and well-known companies. From Mozilla Firefox to Facebook to Jamie Oliver and worth mentioning Digitas LBI — Europe’s greatest full service agency and last but not least GDS — Government Digital Services for GOV.UK. What we there have seen were a lot of walls with colourful post-its.

Many post-its in the offices of digital agencies in London

I thought, cool, in my office it looks the same because we do show all relevant projects for the business year on a wall using post its. For our team visualisation is an important aspect for demonstrating the workload and parallel projects. But during the presentation at GDS and the internal daily “stand-up meeting” where we were allowed to listen it becomes clear that their post it wall has a well known system behind. All this post its underline the agile project management. So we stand in front of their so called Kanban wall. Kanban boards provide a visual aid for projects with multiple phases, offering transparency to stakeholders and easy to follow guidelines for team members. (Source: http://leankit.com/learn/kanban/kanban-boards-for-project-management/) The system dates back to 1947 where it had been introduced by Toyota for the first time.

In the Toyota Production System, the unique production control method called the "kanban system" plays an integral role. The kanban system has also been called the "Supermarket method" because the idea behind was borrowed from supermarkets. Such mass merchandizing stores use product control cards which product-related information upon, such as a product's name, code and storage location. Because Toyota employed kanban signs for the use in their production processes, the method came to be called the "kanban system." When a process refers to a preceding process to retrieve parts, Toyota uses kanban to communicate which parts have been used. (Source: http://www.toyota-global.com/company/vision_philosophy/toyota_production_system/just-in-time.html)

This approach could be applied to any project. The board has different columns. First you spilt your project into indiviudal tasks . Each task is written on a card or post-it. It start at the very left column — for work in progress and during the project it should be passed until the very right — task completed.

Coming back to the daily stand up meeting at GDS. Here, every team member presents the actual status of his task. Very efficiently everybody is up to date about the current project status and very easily it becomes obvious if there is a need for additional resources or if they could keep on moving. After 10 to 15 minutes everybody is done and goes back to work, knows what to do next and that’s it. You could also do it digital by using TRELLO for example.

Transferring the system to my daily work life

I am convinced that we could also benefit from introducing a so called Kanban board and of course I will introduce this approach in our upcoming project management meeting. Now I got so excited about the KANBAN method that I drifted up and did not answer the question what this has to do with content management strategy, especially at GDS. I will cover this topic in the next post.

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