Spice girls question
- If you're interested, you will do what is convenient; if you're committed, you'll do whatever it takes. —John Assaraf
…options have value because the future is uncertain, so you have way more options than your capacity can ever supply.
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Once something is flowing across the Kanban board we don't ever want it to be discarded and waste scarce resources and capacity. Deferring commitment to the optimal exercise point maximizes your return on investment.
Kanban really helps focus people on what we call in the community the “spice girls question”. When you are doing the queue replenishment for a Kanban system, you might say which two things do you want next.
Management consultant Stephen Bungay would say you have to “tell me what you want, what you really really want” and once you committed on that you shouldn't change your mind.
Ask the product owner, “Tell me what you want, what you really really want.”, using real options. Pull only those items and secure that you start what you finish and finish what you start.
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Spice Girls » WANNABE
Yo, I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want, So tell me what you want, what you really really want, I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want, So tell me what you want, what you really really want, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really really really wanna zigazig ha. If you want my future forget my past, If you wanna get with me better make it fast, Now don't go wasting my precious time, Get your act together we could be just fine I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want, So tell me what you want, what you really really want, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really really really wanna zigazig ha.
A committed to item gets discarded.
Therefore: Discard the item from the board and track the fact and report it out during operations review. Include trends as a leading indicator for grinding down speed.
Use the opportunity to educate upstream about the commitment line. Before you do, update your explicit policy accordingly and point upstream to it when explaining how it works.
Consider to take the opportunity and close a tight economic feedback loop so that the cause of the discard, to some extent, feels the pain of discarding items once they've passed the commitment line. So whenever an item gets discarded, only the offender should feel the pain. Good citizens may feel a little gain.
Of course, the offender already paid for it because your team have worked on it at the cost of the allocated capacity. Yet, discarding items is a serious offense, so extra corrective action is justified.
What you may consider to add to your explicit policy:
- We use the spice girls question to pull your requests into our visual workflow, so you must tell us what you want, what you really, really want because we are committed to start what you finish and finish what you start.
- This implies that we want a zero discard rate beyond the commitment line. Whenever an item gets discarded once we have committed to it, we have wasted time and effort that we could have better invested on other items. It also slows down progress on other items from both you and the others that we serve. Finally, it is very dissatisfying to people who have worked on the item, and lowers our team happiness and morale—remember, morale is a multiplier. Since we are a shared and scarce resource, we must be very careful on how we spend our capacity.
- Therefore, we use discard points just like the driver’s license points. For every offense, the offender gets a discard points. Once the number of discard points reach a certain threshold, we throttle down the capacity of the offender somewhat down. This will increase the capacity for good citizens somewhat. All stakeholders will be notified of this fact. Each discard points has a expiration date, so by being a good citizen, you regain the capacity allocated to you.
Find a way to check if a those who serve actually uses the items. This to discourage upstream customers to have items completed and then discard them just to avoid the discard point.
- InfoQ » Interview with David J. Anderson at Lean Kanban 2013 Conference
- “Spice Girls Question” originally coined by Stephen Bungay