The Relationship Between Visualization and Reorganization

This chapter puts the concepts of visibility and reorganization into context with each other.  An advantage of using Lean-Thinking behind both Scrum and Kanban is that both tend to ignore one or the other in their own manner. Scrum prescribes reorganization into cross-functional teams while LKU Kanban says reorganization is “orthogonal to Kanban” most likely because LKU Kanban is based more on theory of constraints which does not focus on reorganization.  See a short video on  Theory of Constraints (TOC) 3 Bottle Oiled Wheels for a demonstration of this.

Most Kanban thought leaders outside of LKU do not have this opinion. Lean-thinking suggests using cross-functional teams in product development so reorganization is often useful, but only after visualization. Reorganization is something you do after you can see what is happening . This delay may be measured in hours or months.

As a co-founder of LKU (I’m no longer active) I obviously love Kanban, in particular:

  • visualization
  • explicit workflow
  • can work anywhere

You don’t need to reorganize when you use Kanban, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t when it’s appropriate.  Don Reinertsen tells us “flow when you can, pull when you must.” Reorganization to achieve flow instead of needing kanbans is a tenet of Lean.

Lean suggests the use of ‘workcell’s (teams in product development). This enhances flow while enabling more innovation. Reorganization when guided by visualization & the theory of flow can be a very effective tool. It should not be ignored.

While improvement from any reorganization is never completely predictable, it can be effectively guided by the Value Stream Impedance Scorecard (VSIS). The VSIS takes advantage of patterns that predict whether flow is being improved or not. Serendipitously, most people already have a good intuition of this. The VSIS is mostly an explicit statement of what most people have already experienced.