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Posts tagged “Lean

Seattle Kaizen Camp 2014

Last week I attended my fifth Kaizen Camp at The Foundry in Seattle.  As usual it was a magical experience with awesome people, exceptional food and unmatched conversations.  Kaizen Camp started as a traditional Open Space conference and through a series of…ahem…Kaizen’s it morphed to what one might call “Scaled Lean Coffee” format this time.

Our meeting space is an open banquet facility. You would think it would be too noisy with close to 100 people all talking at once, but it is surprisingly quiet. I believe there are two things that contribute to this: 1) everyone is at a round table so there is no clear leader or lecturer trying to talk over everyone, and 2) because we are all in the same room everyone is more mindful and respectful of their volume

Meeting Space

Our beautiful meeting space at The Foundry

The day started with an intro in front of the main Kanban board. We heard from a sponsor, Dashcube, who makes an impressive Lean/Agile planning tool. This is followed by Jim Benson explaining the Lean Coffee procedure.

Starting the day

Starting the day at Kaizen Camp

Next, people share their ideas while we populate the backlog.

Reviewing the backlog

Reviewing the backlog

Notice the strict limit of eight cards.  Masking tape physically limits the Work In Progress to correspond to the eight tables where the Lean Coffee sessions are held.

WIP Limit

WIP limits are good

We collectively “pull” stories into the In Progress boxes. This is an open forum where everyone bum-rushes the wall to pull their favorite story into one of the eight slots. Surprisingly this goes very smoothly. The very first session is always the busiest —  however there are typically only two or three really enthusiastic folks that run up to the board.  Everyone else waits to see what gets pulled.

Pulling Stories

Pulling Stories

Here we are at the first session discussing Scaling Agile. We decided that Agile concepts and principles scale beautifully but that prescriptive methods do not necessarily scale without tailoring. Organizations are complex and require some iteration to find a process that works.

Discussing Scaling Agile

Discussing Scaling Agile

After each session we share any epiphanies the group had before we do another “pull” to choose the next round of sessions. By the end of the day there are a LOT of epiphanies.

Sharing Epiphanies

Sharing Epiphanies

The Ephphanie Wall

The Epiphanies Wall

I recently read an excellent book I discovered at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland and hosted a session to discuss it.  It was very popular and resulted in many epiphanies. Apparently lots of us have had experiences that made this book compelling.

My Session

My Session

And finally, there was dancing.

Dancing at Kaizen Camp

Dancing at Kaizen Camp

All-in-all Kaizen Camp 2014 in Seattle was another fantastic adventure filled with intense learning, great food and even better discussion.  Keep an eye out next year and sign up if you get a chance!



So my wife is trekking in Nepal with Above and Beyond Cancer for three weeks and I am playing single dad with my 3rd and 6th grade kids.  I knew there was no way I could keep track of all of the kids various activities not to mention my own busy schedule even though my wife had meticulously documented everything in our shared Google calendar.  So the first thing I did the day she left was to set up a Kanban board on the sliding glass door that leads to our back yard.  This is the single most visible space in the entire house — it is the first thing you see when you walk in the front door.  I knew for it to be useful my board had to be extremely visible.  Next I instituted a new program with the kids — each Sunday we would spend a half hour planning the upcoming week: what homework is due?  what sports activities are there?  what play practices? etc.  Those cards went up top; color coded by person.  Then each night we would spend 5 minutes planning the _next_ day; moving the cards from the top section to the “Today” section.

Mack with Kanban board


We are now one full week in and so far it has been smooth sailing.  No missed homework, no missed practices, good meals each night and the house is reasonably clean!  I even got my son to pick up dog poop in the yard so he could move a card to “done.”

Jack and Mack with Kanban board

Jack and Mackenzie

Update 10/2/2012:

My parents came over to help out for a couple of days.  My mother reviewed the Kanban board and with a puzzled look said:

“Isn’t that stressful to see all of the things you have to do?”

To which I replied:

“Not as stressful as NOT seeing it!”