Managing Deadlines in Kanban

The word deadline is an ugly one. Creativity and innovation, in my experience, come from my free moments when I do not have the black cloud of deadline over me. Either that or the deadline is so upon me that I have to come up with an innovation in order to make it in the first place because I procrastinated so magnificently. However, the stress involved with that type of innovation usually results in post-success distraction due to either celebration or exhaustion, thus killing productivity for quite awhile. Bottom line, unlike a favourite quip of “I’m just practicing JIT”, the meaning of JIT is not about managing deadlines and certainly is construed in every possible element when referenced in this manner. I feel physical pain when hearing an excuse that is clearly intended to cover the fact that the deadline was blown off to the 11th hour.

However, how does one manage the deadline? The first word comes to my mind is pacing. It was shocking to me when positive results came from chipping at even a need for innovation by giving myself focus time on it a few hours a week. My method for doing this is to put Deadline XYZ in task card within the on-going tasks swim lane in my personal kanban board. That in itself was not enough for me because visually it appeared that I was always working on it. Enter Pomodoro record on the card (see below). Now I see for this week that I have dedicated three Pomodoro’s to my KAM III edits and have done absolutely squat for my KAM V Learning Agreement. My jubilant sense of accomplishment has now been dashed, but I understand that those projects are being addressed a tiny ‘iteration’ at a time, and have no shock at the end of the week when the projects are in-complete.

There is another kind of deadline that does not get the attention needed, and that one is the special type of project that has 101 ways to manipulate your board to justify that action is being taken. For me, this project typically represents writing. I have figured an amazing number of ways to make it appear that I am professionally blogging each week, but in reality, it was never reaching the Done column, thus never getting to the “Publish” button action. Here is where fellow personal kanban practitioners disagree with me, but sometimes the kanban board simply does not provide enough motivation for me to get it to the Done category. Three whole months passed before I figured out a way to ensure my card to cross the boundary markers and into that Done category for publishing professional blogs. My solution: write up 1-2 snippets of draft posts and set the pre-publish dates. There’s nothing quite as horrifying as publishing a nice title and then seeing something like:

“talk about using my kanban board for truly managing deadlines – use image of swim lane as example. talk about projects that don’t necessary get done with kanban alone and need outside influence”

My knowledge of that publishing if I don’t get that kanban card through has resulted in six posts in a row with four scheduled out for every Thursday at 230 EST. Sometimes it takes another type of influence to help get those cards in gear, and it’s important to sit down and figure out what works for you to not allow your kanban boards develop into your excuse mechanism.

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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.