Part of my work with ALC Oahu was to help upgrade their internal working process. When I arrived many of the tools were in place for collaboration. The Staff had a Community Mastery Board as well as a Kanban for administration of ALC Oahu. What was missing was a reliable process for using these tools.
Where I found it
The ALC toolset is wonderful but introducing tools won’t magically change how well something works. Kanban is a powerful tool that works best when used within a cycle, something that wasn’t happening when I arrived. The ALC Oahu Staff Kanban was set up in a “normal” fashion with a backlog, ready, doing, done. Cards were assigned to members and there might (I forget…) have been labels.
The trouble was that cards would languish in their columns never moving forward. There was no way of determining what was of top priority nor was there a system for visualizing what was next up.
Cycles of Intentions Setting and Reflection
In ALC Oahu staff would meet before and after each school day to clear and coordinate. This time was perfect for setting the staff intentions for the day and then reflecting on them at the end. On Mondays the staff could then set intentions for the whole week and on Thursday (the last day we met) they would reflect on the week. Then at the top and bottom of each month there would be a intention/reflection setting session for the month.
- Every Morning – Set the day, determine what will be placed in the Today column
- Every Afternoon – Reflect on the day, what is left in the today column? What is in the done column? Why?
- Every First Monday – Set the week, change the title of the This Week column to include the week’s start and end date. Move cards into This Week column.
- Every Friday Afternoon – Reflect on the week. What got done? What didn’t? What lessons can be gained for next set the week?
- First Monday of the Month – Set the month. Change the month column name to match current month. Move cards into month column that the group wishes to complete.
- Last Afternoon of the Month – Reflect on the activity of the month.
Kanban Board Updates
To facilitate this practice the Staff Kanban was altered to hold cards for the month, week, and day.
- Ongoing – cards that don’t “end” or can’t be completed but always will need attention. Example: “find a grant”
- Backlog – a catch all for tasks, most cards start their life here
- Month – holds the current month’s name (e.g. June) and contains cards that the group wants to complete within that month. This column is populated (and renamed) at the start of each month
- Week – cards that the group wishes to complete this current week. It is important that the name of the column reflect the current week. Keeping the date on the column sets it in time and keep the cards inside pertinent.
- Today – cards are placed in this column at the start of each work day.
- Doing – cards are moved here when they are literally doing a specific card.
- Ready for Reflection – this acts as the done column. Cards are archived after the staff has reflected on them.
- Follow up – cards that require follow up
- Checklists – this column collects cards which contain checklists for common tasks. These cards can be copied each time a task needs to be completed.
There isn’t much to say about these labels. It’s great to use these labels to filter cards. On group Kanbans filtering is super useful for narrowing down what’s important to you.
There are a number of tasks that happen over and over. Often a single person will take responsibility for these tasks and then end ups doing the task each time it needs to be done. In an attempt to lighten the load I suggested that we create cards with step by step checklists on how to complete the task.
Having a checklist available for volunteers or other staff members allows the sharing of responsibility.
With these few changes the ALC Oahu workflow was greatly improved. New volunteers have been easily integrated into the process and work is able to be visualized more clearly.