Using the advantages of making policies explicit with the Kanban Method in our finance solutions innovation unit

Christoph Dibbern
4 min readFeb 24, 2022

Many teams in bigger companies with hundreds of employees struggle in getting an appropriate overview of their work and managing their work. The Kanban Practice of “making policies explicit” enables the departments and teams to:

  • visualize pull criteria
  • limit work in progress
  • have explicit classes of service
  • and define more appropriate policies like common cadences inside teams.

You will learn how this Kanban practice can be used in a bigger environment to foster the flow of work and get a common and fast overview with an appropriate board.

This series of blog articles comprises four parts: (1) An overview of the overall case study and approach, (2) an article about making policies explicit (this article), (3) an article about the applied Kanban metrics, and (4) an article about the lessons learned in our blog service team.

Our blogger service board

The board is to a common overview of the different work item types by brainstorming for our blog service, e.g.:

  1. blog article
  2. medium.com article
  3. new author profile
  4. bug

Furthermore, it enables us to get a common understanding of which work item type will be mostly used and to create together associations of which work item types are connected to which columns in our Kanban system, see figure 1.

Figure 1: Our Kanban board with the current state of our work, work items, and associated columns

An example for our column policies is visualized in figure 2 — the WIP limits are visualized on the blue sticky notes. The column “Preparation for check by marketing experts” has a WIP limit of 1, the successor column “In quality check” has a WIP limit of 2. This column is described in more detail on the figure.

Figure 2: Example for the design of our column polices

Our card design including classes of service and Lead Time calculation is shown in figure 3.

Figure 3: Card design for our work items, colors for classes of service, and the equation for lead time calculation

An example of further defined policies is shown in figure 4. This includes also the definition of a commitment point.

Figure 4: Other policies including our commitment point

An example summary from one of our team retrospective results is shown in figures 5 and 6.

Figure 5: Starting at Kanban maturity model level 0 (oblivious) and making now transition steps to mature from a now team-focused level 1 to a customer-driven end to end collaboration, culture, practices, policies, and board
Figure 6: Realizing evolutionary change wire running cadence-based retrospectives

Conclusion and lookout

Making policies explicit was and is a comprehensive Kanban practice to foster our collaboration and improve our ability to manage the flow in case of our company-wide blog service. I strongly recommend this practice for every team and we will reflect in our cadence-based retrospectives on how we can visualize our policies better and better.

Read more about this case study in the other articles and do not hesitate to give me feedback and let your comments below: (1) An overview of the overall case study and approach, (2) an article about making policies explicit (this article), (3) an article about the applied Kanban metrics, and (4) an article about the lessons learned in our blog service team.

Literature

Kanban Method Guide

Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business

Kanban Maturity Model: A Map to Organizational Agility, Resilience, and Reinvention

Kanban from the Inside: Understand the Kanban Method, connect it to what you already know, introduce it with impact

Fit for Purpose: How Modern Businesses Find, Satisfy, & Keep Customers

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