Why it makes perfect sense for Narendra Modi to use Kanban

Narendra Modi’s fantastic rise to power is the stuff of legends. From an ordinary tea-seller to the Prime minister of India has been a long and interesting journey. He is known for for his track record for development. He did that in Gujarat, the state where he was Chief Minister for 12 years. Now at the national level, his task is very clearly cut out. He has to fulfill the promises that were made to an aspirational India that voted him to power with such a resounding majority. If you were wondering if this article is about politics, no its not. Its about project management – to be more precise execution and getting things done. Building a strong and glorious India is Narendra Modi (and all of ours as well) dream. This article is about Kanban and why it makes perfect sense for Narendra Modi to use Kanban, which is the one of the best management methods to get things done, as he sets on this historic task of building the nation.

Kanban Method (as propounded by David Anderson, with origins in the Toyota / Lean thinking), is an evolutionary change management approach that helps usher in change. Its is based on a set of principles and prescribes a recipe for change – that is already being widely used in the industry to bring about fundamental organizational change. Nation building is a complex and herculean endeavor that requires fundamental change to how we operate as a country. Using a structured change management approach like Kanban is very well suited for this task.

Why? Because Kanban is focused on execution. It is about getting things done. This is what we need right now. We don’t need just big ambitious plans but a super efficient execution of those plans. This is where Kanban is at its best.

The Kanban Method is based on a set of foundational principles and core properties. They are:

Foundational principles
Start with what you do now
Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change
Respect the current process, roles, responsibilities & titles

6 Core Properties
Make Work Visible
Limit Work in Progress
Help Work to Flow
Make Process Policies Explicit
Implement Feedback Loops
Improve Collaboratively, Evolve Experimentally

We will dig deeper on the first core property in this article – Make Work Visible

Make Work Visible

It is important that he has and the government provides to the public as well full visibility on how the goals that were set are progressing – at a single glance. What better approach for this than a Kanban board.

Note the below graphics are an EXAMPLE using some hypothetical goals. A snapshot below of how things would look now when he is just starting.

MasterBoard - Not Started

A couple of years down the line, we would expect at least some of these to move forward and have a real pulse on where they are. and if not why not.

If we see this, we are all happy with the pace of progress.

MasterBoard - 2 years good

If we see this, it must mean that sleeves must be rolled and things must be done differently.

MasterBoard - 2 years worry

The visualization that a Kanban board provides brings total transparency and cuts all the long winding discussions. Kanban board will show facts – truth in your face – in a single glance.

The Kanban board would not just be at this level. I would expect a detail drill down on each of the initiatives detailing all the work that is happening. The status from a particular level aggregates to provide the status for the level above. For example, lets take the initiative of putting 30 universities in top 100 of the world.

Kanban can help us visualize and have full transparency on what is happening around this. The following are the boards I would expect:

1. Master Kanban Board – as shown above, describing the status of the initiative as a whole
2. Master University Kanban Board – showing where each of the universities are in their journey.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/education/news/No-Indian-university-in-top-100-global-list-Harvard-voted-best/articleshow/31569174.cms
3. University Kanban Board – showing the status of the initiatives that this particular university is doing to become a top university

This drill down can go on much deeper as needed.

Imagine the impact that such visualization can have on the progress. Visualization is a powerful motivator. It can trigger healthy competition for instance. When a student see his/her university is moving slow on things that they can do something about, it will trigger a desire to do something about it.

The possibilities and opportunities with Kanban’s visualization power are limitless. A serious government can create a truly engaging experience with the masses using Kanban’s power of visualization. It can drive a connect and facilitate a government – public partnership that can usher in a new era – fulfilling our dream of a strong and glorious India.

In the next article, we will look at the next core property – Limit Work in Progress.

Hrishikesh Karekar

Hrishikesh is an enterprise agile coach with interests in varied disciplines. Frequently writing on Agile and Lean related topics, he also occasionally ventures into other stuff like Artificial Intelligence as well..