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Dealing with constant disruption

I am regularly asked a question during customer visits or training sessions: How do you deal with constant disruption? I have already written about this, such as the blog article on white noise and we cover the topic also in the book Kanban Change Leadership. For many years, though, I more often recommend the “Dude of the Week” approach.

The initial situation. A team constantly receives requests to “quickly take care of” a small issue. Naturally, this causes a few problems:

  • You must interrupt work that has already been started, leading to an increased cycle time for this work.
  • Interruptions also cause adherence to delivery dates of the interrupted work to suffer.
  • The context-switch isn’t free either. Once you are mentally taken out of the work, it needs a certain amount of time to get back into it.
  • With every small piece of work that you “quickly” take care of, you start an expedite process since the short work takes over all other work.
  • Thus, a reprioritization is implemented.
  • In most cases, eventual WIP limits will also be exceeded.

All in all, not ideal if you really want to work flow-based. However, it also cannot be argued that someone must wait two weeks for a quick firewall adjustment, for example, just because you are in the middle of something big.

A solution. For such cases, what I have established in many organizations is the “Dude of the Week”. This is one or more persons (according to team size and degree of specialization) who only work on the small tasks for a period of time (a week, for example). So, 100% of the small requests are taken over by these people and worked on immediately. The other team members are able to dedicate themselves 100% without disruption to their large tasks and will not be constantly torn away from their work. If a small request actually turns out to be a large one, a ticket will be created and worked on through the normal channels. This is crucial, otherwise everyone would just request supposedly small tasks.

The improvement process. I also recommend that the “Dudes” collect the requests on Post-it notes. These Post-it notes will be analyzed in an improvement meeting. Perhaps you find that certain requests are made over and over and you can come up with a systemic solution, such as automating the task or changing the work process so that the request doesn’t come up as much in the future. That’s a similar approach to Blocker Clustering.

TWiG V1.4 released

Something is happening in the TWiG country. I have just released version 1.4 . You can download it from the TWiG website.

In addition to smaller bug fixes, there are two major changes: (1) Thanks to Florian Meyer, there is a facilitator’s guide, which greatly helps with the simulation setup and (2) the Realization Time Scatterplot has been modified – now we have days on the X axis.

I am more and more coming to believe that it was a great idea to release TWiG as a Creative Commons. I got a lot of valuable feedback and people have already started enriching the simulation with their own ideas and add-ons. These community updates will be included in a community folder as of the next release.

Thank you, to all contributors! I love community! 🙂


One Year Lean Business Agility Video Blog

It’s been a year since the first video was published in my Video Blog Lean Business Agility. What is more obvious than to draw an annual balance.

Florida, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Vienna, Munich, Paris, London, Dusseldorf etc. I was in really many cool places and met even more interesting people. I’ve created a Google map where I’ve entered the episodes’ places including the link to the episode.


I had to realize that creating objective charts is not that easy. That’s why I’ve divided the charts into two groups:

  • Most hits: The videos with the most accesses in absolute terms since the release of the video. The longer a video is online, the more absolute hits it usually gets.
  • Weekly traffic: average traffic per week since the video was posted until today. Video traffic is usually highest after publication and decreases to an average over the first four to six weeks.
Top 7, most hits
  1. DE E003: Strategisches Portfoliomanagement bei Autoscout24
  2. DE E007: Flight Level 2 bei AutoScout24
  3. EN E004: Metrics and Dashboards
  4. DE E002: Enterprise Kanban Coach
  5. DE E012: Selbstorganisierte Unternehmen
  6. EN E020: The Spotify Model
  7. DE E011: Backlog Management bei TOP@SBB


Top 7, weekly traffic
  1. DE E023: Agilität mit 350+ Personen bei OTTO
  2. EN E020: The Spotify Model
  3. DE E003: Strategisches Portfoliomanagement bei Autoscout24
  4. DE E019: Business Agility @ Rewe Digital
  5. DE E007: Flight Level 2 bei AutoScout24
  6. EN E021: Why Change is Inevitable
  7. EN E022: Managing Change in the 21st Century


Top 4, English videos only, most hits
  1. EN E004: Metrics and Dashboards
  2. EN E020: The Spotify Model
  3. EN E006: System Stability
  4. EN E009: Actionable Agile Metrics


Top 4, Englische videos only, weekly traffic
  1. EN E020: The Spotify Model
  2. EN E021: Why Change is Inevitable
  3. EN E022: Managing Change in the 21st Century
  4. EN E004: Metrics and Dashboards


Top 4, German videos only, most hits
  1. DE E003: Strategisches Portfoliomanagement bei Autoscout24
  2. DE E007: Flight Level 2 bei AutoScout24
  3. DE E002: Enterprise Kanban Coach
  4. DE E012: Selbstorganisierte Unternehmen


Top 4, German videos only, weekly traffic
  1. DE E023: Agilität mit 350+ Personen bei OTTO
  2. DE E003: Strategisches Portfoliomanagement bei Autoscout24
  3. DE E019: Business Agility @ Rewe Digital
  4. DE E007: Flight Level 2 bei AutoScout24


And of course we continue! I was back in Florida and did three cool videos there which will be published in the next days and weeks. To stay up-to-date, subscribe to the Lean Business Agility YouTube Channel or subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or Overcast or use the RSS Feed.

Featured image by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash.

TWiG – The WiP Game – is Out!

Done! TWiG version 1.3 has a state that humankind might probably use without much harm. The material is print-ready and I’d call the simulation stable. A simulation is, of course, never “done” and I have tons of ideas to incorporate but I think it’s definitely playable. What’s missing is good documentation about the setup. There are only two pictures and that’s it but if it’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, we’re good 🙂

Why a new simulation?

Does the world really need a new simulation besides getKanban, FlowLab, Featureban, and others I don’t know? Yes, they are really great simulations and the world most likely does not need another one but I do! One simulation takes too long, another one is too complicated and another one is too general. Sorry, but that’s how difficult I am when it comes to fulfill my mission to find easy explanations for complex topics.

TWiG is a board game that shows a WiP limited pull system in action. It can be played in only 1.5 hours. I usually play it at the end of a Kanban class because it nicely summarizes what you’ve learned before.

I basically developed the simulation out of pure selfishness and I never wanted to make it available to the public. However, after I played TWiG the first time in a training, I immediately realized that “not publishing it” was wishful thinking. I continuously get requests, where one can buy the simulation. TWiG was only developed to be part of our workshops and trainings and we (LEANability) don’t want to move to the board game business. As such it was just logical to make TWiG freely available for the public. And that’s what happened: TWiG is licensed under a “Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License”.


You can download the simulation on the TWiG website (although website is a bold word for what you’ll see): www.LEANability.com/en/twig (Use www.LEANability.com/de/twig for the German version.)

Help and further development

We are opening up the LEANability Slack community as TWiG support channel. You can sign-up for the Slack group on www.LEANability.com/en/slack. Please add to the comment that you’re interested in TWiG. There are currently the following Slack channels:

  • #twig-help-en: General help about the simulation: how to setup, debriefing tips, etc. Language: English
  • #twig-help-de: The German help channel.
  • #twig-devleop: This channel is about further development of TWiG. Language is English.
  • There’s a Trello board where I started to collect some improvement ideas: http://bit.ly/twig-dev-trello The idea is that we’re discussing improvements in #twig-develop on Slack and we’ll track progress of realization on Trello.

That’s at least the initial idea – reality will show what’s really working. We’re not afraid to adapt 😉

Thank you

Many thanks to Katrin Dietze for continuous feedback to the simulation and for the help with the material.

Thank you Mike Freislich for the translation help. You did a really great job and this although you don’t speak a single word German. We might also thank Google translate 🙂

Thank you Joanne Perold and Mike Freislich for being the English TWiG guinea pigs.

Have fun using and and I’m looking forward to your comments and improvement suggestions!