From Pandemonium to Predictable: Managing the Chaos of Success

We often aim for success and welcome it with open arms.  But, sometimes success comes more quickly than you anticipate, and demand for services exceeds your capacity to deliver.  The result can be missed commitments, high stress, and inability to forecast with clarity.  As quickly as your brand shines, it can tarnish with your inability to keep up.  Basically your dreams become your nightmare.

 This is the story of a small little training program for a transforming enterprise that consisted of a single class and an instructor.  Within 3 years it had grown to 12 courses and 6 instructors with a waiting list for seats.  People wanted more courses and more offerings of the existing courses.  People were asking for us to attend events and summits and briefings. As demand surged we began to fall into a pattern of unreliable service and delivery with a completely unsustainable work/life balance. 

 In the midst of the chaos we became inspired by the IT software development model of Kanban.  While we're engaged in non-IT knowledge work, we became convinced an implementation of a proto-kanban management system could save our reputation.  The Kanban management method saved our business when the chaos of success was drowning us.  And it can help you too!

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

  • Introduce the context of the case study: federal agency, training department, growing demand
  • Explain basic timeline for increase in demand for services that outpaces capacity to deliver
  • Discuss the impact of missed commitments, confusion over origin of requests, constant nagging feeling of something falling through the cracks, overworked staff, inability to articulate pain points
  • Show the genesis of visualizing our work: inquiries, work products, service requests
  • Examine prioritization of requests and work items
  • Show how we evolved our task boards and ticket design to suit our evolving needs
  • Explain "throughput" metrics used to influence other departments to help with shared work items
  • Show how we use our metrics to influence upper-management to see our training department as a primary service that needed scaled resources instead of as a support service that was merely overhead
  •  Reflect on the best ways to use Proto-Kanban to manage a non-IT knowledge work department to have predictable, reliable delivery

Learning Outcome

It will give a clear case study of managing scaling of non-software development knowledge work

It will include some simple but profound steps into gaining visibility into chaotic work flows and sources of requests

It will cover some simple metrics that can influence other parts of the organization to resolve blocked work items

Attendees will learn skills that are actionable tomorrow

Target Audience

Non-IT professionals, Entrepreneurs, Managers in scaling organizations, Coaches, Middle-management

Prerequisite

Nothing required

schedule Submitted 3 months ago

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