There comes a day in the life of any product development when the decision is made to freeze the source code, fix only critical defects, and ship it! For the Kanban Maturity Model release 1.2, that day came in early September – there would be no more changes; the cost of change to the already indexed and laid out book and accompanying infographic posters was all too expensive. The cost of a further delay to a product that was already 4 months overdue was unacceptable. It was time to ¨ship it”!
The Kanban Maturity Model release 1.2 is a career-defining piece of work that both I and Teodora Bozheva are rightly proud of. The new updated model incorporating organizational culture and managed evolution is far more extensive than its predecessors. The accompanying second edition book is 3 times the size of its predecessor based on the original beta release in April 2018. The new material covers our entire catalog of coaching practices and becomes the consultant’s playbook for a decade or more of enterprise-scale improvement initiatives yet to come. I have no doubt that the KMM 1.2 is a game-changer in the world of enterprise-scale organizational agility and improved economic performance of professional services, intangible goods, knowledge worker professions, and industries. Looking back five years, I would never have imagined it possible that we could codify the roadmap, identify the barriers to adoption and institutionalization, and provide pragmatic, actionable, and evidence-based guidance at each step on the journey to large-scale organizational agility.
So, the KMM 1.2 ship has sailed, and inevitably some things were left on the dockside waiting for the next release. What are those things, and do I have any regrets?
The 1.2 release is extremely stable. After a two-year-long beta program involving companies very large, and quite small, across several continents, the model has been validated and the positioning of the specific practices is now secure, consistent, and internally congruent. We don’t expect much, if any, change in the specific practice descriptions, numbering or location, in future releases.
The outcomes and benefits section has been enhanced and improved. Some naming has been changed. Readers of the first edition based on the first beta release will notice that the naming of the organizational maturity levels has been changed to be more outcome-oriented and business-focused.
In addition to the first two pillars of the KMM since its inception, we have added a third; organizational culture. There is now extensive coverage of the values that define the organizational culture at each level of organizational maturity as well as our coaching guidance on understanding and mapping culture and advice on how to coach leaders to hack the culture to make change and improvements easier to implement and more certain to stick. Guidance on culture hacking is one of the two significant elements in the new release.
These three pillars of outcomes, practices, and culture are woven together and improved and developed through managed evolution. The new release contains deeply researched coverage of our coaching guidance on evolutionary change and how to understand the human condition and create greater empathy with those in organizations changing. There is extensive and well-researched coverage of sociology, social psychology, and how these relate to the architecture and chemistry of the brain. For those already familiar with my material on these topics, you are likely to find new and extended models that provide deeper and more actionable insights than before. If you haven’t taken the Kanban Coaching Practices class in the past year, then you’ll notice a lot of useful changes. I am extremely proud of this new material that synthesizes work from Francis Fukuyama, Jared Diamond, Nassim Taleb, Ray Immelman, and several academic sources on social psychology and neuroscience integrating ideas from Plato, Maslow, Nietzche, and the Gestalt school of psychology.
We have also included in the book an extensive set of appendices containing previously unpublished work on enterprise services planning, product management, and the problems of selecting, scheduling, sequencing work, and determining the class of service (or priority). This material is essential for achieving effective enterprise-scale agility and provides a solid mathematical underpinning for selection, scheduling, and prioritization decisions. Over time, this material will appear in other publications and other formats but for now, it was essential to making it accessible to a broad audience. Much, if not almost, everything previously published on the topic of selecting, scheduling, sequencing, and prioritizing knowledge work is of dubious provenance, based on false premises, and invalid mathematically. The field of planning and prioritization for intangible goods industries has been in the dark ages filled with superstitious beliefs and methods that should be ascribed to witchdoctors and soothsayers. With KMM 1.2, we bring product management and scheduling decisions into the light of the scientific revolution with a mathematically robust model delivered in an actionable, pragmatic manner that is accessible without a need to understand the math or quantitative data – an approach that will work for organizations at maturity level 2.
The KMM 1.2 release brings together around eighteen years of experimentation, research, implementation, and case study evidence. With it, I believe that Teodora and I have delivered the book I wish I´d had and read 20 years ago. I look back at so many fumbling mistakes and misadventures with half-baked concepts and ideas with some embarrassment and humility. I hope that it might help you avoid many of my mistakes and help you make a meaningful impact on your business, your community, and your economy.
Left on the dock
If I have one regret, one box of wisdom, that was left on the dockside as the KMM 1.2 ship sailed away, it is that I wasn’t able to elaborate and explore the ideas of Aristotle, Plato’s prodigy, working twenty years later. KMM 1.2 contains the ideas of Plato on the human psyche and the human soul from his Republic Books 1 and 4. This provides the foundation for an understanding of human identity and the core concepts in empathy and understanding why people resist change as a threat to their identity, their self-image, self-esteem, recognition, respect, status, and dignity. In the Republic Book 4, Plato defined the human soul as containing nous (reason), epithymos (desire or appetite), and thymos (spirit or passion). Aristotle took Plato’s ideas further. For Aristotle, writing in De Anima, the soul was not a separate thing that could occupy the inner being of a human (an entity made up of ´stuff´) – the soul was not separable. For Aristotle there was no concept of souls, only soul. To have soul, someone had to be more than alive, to be more than animate, rather they must have a function, a purpose to their life. For Aristotle, without purpose, there is no soul.
Around a decade ago, I found it necessary to communicate the purpose of the Kanban Method – to improve service delivery, and to drive evolutionary changes in organizations, for improved service delivery. This reportedly caused Stefan Roock, one of our business partner it-agile in Hamburg, Germany, to respond, ¨now Kanban has a soul! ¨ Without a defined and understood purpose, Kanban was without soul.
Aristotle went further again building on ideas from Plato that to have virtue a soul must fulfill its purpose adequately – to be virtuous, something must be fit for its purpose. It must fulfill its reason for being. Failure to do so is to be lacking in virtue.
There is much in the Kanban Maturity Model about purpose; the organizational maturity level 3 is named Fit-for-Purpose. By definition, an organization must have a purpose to achieve maturity level 3. The corollary might be that without a purpose, an organization is without a soul.
A person without a purpose, a business without a purpose, a kanban workflow without a purpose, is without soul. While living and animate, it is a zombie. And a service, a kanban workflow that fails to meet its customers´ expectations and meet the fitness threshold for satisfactory performance, is without virtue.
In my recent blog post, the New Recipe for Success, I observed that organizational improvement requires that you…
- Lead with purpose
- Create customer-centric (purpose-driven) metrics
- Implement feedback loops
- Hold people accountable
It will be interesting to explore Aristotle’s ideas further in the future. His concept of soul suggests that lower maturity organizations, those at organizational maturity levels 0 through 2, are without purpose, and hence, without soul, or at the very least without virtue, as they fail to adequately fulfill their purpose. Leaders inject soul into their organizations by defining and communicating its purpose. They define virtue by articulating the adequate fulfillment of purpose. Leading with purpose, therefore, is to lead with soul!
Still in the warehouse
A couple of major pillars for the Kanban Maturity Model have been left in the warehouse still under development to be included a future release in 2022. Likely, these will appear in community preview and beta test form for enthusiasts and members of the official beta program.
The new KMM 1.2 contains rudimentary coverage of leadership, leadership maturity, and leadership development. Pragmatic, actionable, and evidence-based guidance for complete coverage on leadership is underway – some of it has appeared in my keynote speeches at conferences as long ago as 2018. However, it is not ready for the mainstream nor sufficiently well-developed for a formal training curriculum. KMM 1.3 will contain a leadership pillar with a full curriculum for leadership development through to the senior level in large-scale enterprises.
The other major element still in development is a formal appraisal model. The need for organizational, corporate recognition of progress and the status that might derive from that progress which is core to the human condition; social groups of humans, have psyches, very similar to individuals. There is also a need to provide a solid basis for action and advice from consultants and coaches using the Kanban Maturity Model as a means to guide improvements. The development of the appraisal method is underway. Teodora has a rudimentary prototype in use with her clients and a few members of the beta program who are trialing the community preview edition. The formal appraisal method and accompanying appraisal program are therefore expected to debut in KMM 1.3 in 2022.
We made a hard decision to offload specific practices related to projects, programs, and portfolio management. These have been removed in release 1.2. Those familiar with earlier releases may miss them. We decided to scope the main Kanban Maturity Model to Kanban’s core purpose – to improve service delivery in intangible goods, service industry organizations. Intangible goods, professional services, is such a huge part of the modern economy and management guidance specifically designed for this sector is in short supply. The Kanban Method and its related concepts of Service-oriented Organization Design (SOO), Enterprise Services Planning (ESP), and the Fit-for-Purpose Framework (F4P) define the core management, organizational, and leadership paradigm for the future of the enterprise. Projects, programs, and to some extent portfolios are artifacts of the old paradigm. They represent legacy approaches to organization and management. Consequently, we’ve decided to bundle the specific Kanban practices for projects, programs, and portfolios into a separate extension KMMX for Projects, Programs and Portfolio Management (PPPM) to be published early in 2021. We fully appreciate that Kanban can help improve outcomes in such circumstances, but Kanban applied inside a project to help the flow of work and improve the predictability of the planning is Kanban used as a pill to treat the symptoms without addressing the core root causes of dysfunction. So, we made a tough decision to separate Kanban used as an ointment, pain relief from the symptoms of dysfunction, from Kanban used intended as a humane approach to improving services businesses using a fundamentally service-oriented approach. When you understand the true soul of Kanban, you cannot fail to accept the logic in this decision.
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The following table maps the first and second editions of the book. It is important to point out that almost none of the original texts survived. Where a chapter in the first edition has an equivalent chapter in the second edition, that new chapter is almost or entirely new.
Lower maturity levels
Medium and higher levels
See also Appendix B
BBVA case study new
Section 2 – Culture section new
Section 3 – 54 pages longer
Section 4 Managed Evolution replaces chapter 11
Kanban Method Overview
Integrations (from Chapter 3)
Understanding Lead Time
Cost of Delay
6 pages longer