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Elves cancelled – manage your task force with Christmas kanban!

Published in People
Christmas presents and a notebook
Suvi Myllykangas
Written by
Suvi Myllykangas
Lean Agile Coach

Suvi is a lean and agile unicorn who loves to help organizations and teams reach their full potential with agile methodologies. Suvi has 7+ years of hands-on experience working with lean and agile, coaching organizations, teams, Scrum Masters, RTEs and Product Owners.

December 17, 2020 · 3 min read time

This year we might find ourselves with our hands full with Christmas preparations. Due to the pandemic, we can't to share the burden of baking and cooking with family or friends like we're used to. Under no circumstances is this a time to panic but instead a high time to organize the minimal task force to the max!

You know the type of people who start their Christmas countdown right after the summer holidays are over? The ones that bring their Christmas decorations from the basement as soon as days start getting darker and the weather colder? The ones from whom no-one asks, but they will tell anyway how many days it is until Christmas?

Hi. I'm Suvi and I'm a crazy Christmas fanatic.

I'm also a Lean-Agile Coach, and at work I've planned and facilitated numerous (remote) everyday agile workshops for my customers. These workshops aim to introduce lean and agile concepts with examples from everyday life. This way the principles and mindset behind agile become applicable to people who don't work with agile teams or software.

This year we’ll all have a bit of a different kind of Christmas, due to the worldwide pandemic. We can't travel to see our families and enjoy ready-made Christmas decorations and food at our parents' or our parents-in-laws' house. Instead, we have to prepare everything for ourselves. And there's a lot of things to do! 

So what would a Lean-Agile-Christmas-fanatic do, you might ask. Keep calm and bring in the kanban, I say!

Illustrated Kanban board with yellow sticky notes and christmas emojis

Visualize all work

Gather your team (close family) together so that you don't have to do everything yourself. Start by writing stickies with what you know and are doing at the moment. Put these items on a kanban board. Start with how you currently do things together and improve the flow later based on feedback. 

Involve everyone

Brainstorm ideas with your team on sticky notes. What are all the things that need to be done before Christmas? Split these tasks into smaller tasks, that can be done in 1-2 hours. Make sure that everyone understands what needs to be done so that anyone can just claim tasks from the backlog and start doing them. Agree on acceptance criteria too – it's fine to buy ready-made stuff instead of making everything from scratch.

Prioritize 

Put tasks into priority order, so that the most important ones are on the top, and the not so important ones at the bottom. Re-prioritize as needed. 

Make compromises and manage expectations

Tell your team and stakeholders, that there might not be time to do everything so that they too remember to focus on the most important things. If no-one likes rosolli, then maybe we shouldn't prepare it? 

Limit the amount of parallel work

Focus on finishing one thing at a time before you start with others. Don't multitask, but plan what you can do already beforehand and for example, put in the freezer, and what can be done later. This way you won’t find yourself in the last minute trying to do everything at the same time.

Gather feedback and adjust

To make sure that you're doing the right things, ask for feedback from your stakeholders (pets, relatives) and team members (family). Are there any bottlenecks in your workflow? Does the porridge have enough salt? Too much salt? Remember to improve based on the feedback.

No pressure

Keep calm and try to relax, maybe with a glass of warm and spicy glögg. Christmas is only once a year, and most of the fun is anyways enjoying the atmosphere during the weeks before Christmas Eve.  

Happy holidays everyone! 

Suvi Myllykangas
Written by
Suvi Myllykangas
Lean Agile Coach

Suvi is a lean and agile unicorn who loves to help organizations and teams reach their full potential with agile methodologies. Suvi has 7+ years of hands-on experience working with lean and agile, coaching organizations, teams, Scrum Masters, RTEs and Product Owners.