How to Implement Kanban in your Creative Project

Kanban is one of the simplest software development methods to apply, making it adaptable to almost any type of culture.

Unlike other methods like Scrum that force a change from the beginning in structuring a team with specific roles, Kanban seeks the evolution of what is already formed.

And it is the perfect tool to put your fears away and have the audacity to implement new things in your creative project.

In this article, you will see ways you can use Kanban to promote creativity in your projects. Have you read our other posts on Kanban? Check them below:

How to diversify tasks with Kanban?
Plan your professional and personal life as a project with Kanban

Kanban: follow the workflow steps

The Kanban method proposes an evolutionary and incremental approach. As dissatisfied as you may be with the way things are done in the current process, you don’t need to change everything right away.

You might look for incremental and evolutionary changes. After departing from your current process, you should seek small changes and make hypotheses based on your observation of the system’s behavior.

Moreover, it’s part of the members of a creative team to be curious and experiment with every possible task.

We know that the workload in creative areas is always high, so finding new alternatives and different flows can favor the deliveries that have the most value. Create what it is necessary to change, test, evaluate and look for feedback.

As a part of a creative team, one of your duties is to respect the current process, roles, and responsibilities. The organization where you are implementing the Kanban method will likely have defined roles and authorities.

Perhaps this structure is hindering the flow, in your view. But at the same time, it’s also very likely that most of today’s processes just work. That is why it is important to respect what is already in place and pursue continuous improvement based on that.

With all that, creativity leads to encouragement to leadership at all levels.  And autonomy is a feature of the agile culture that may initially scare people, but it is an important point to bring leadership attitudes that can deliver real value to projects.

And when we talk about the creative area, this autonomy is even more important because it is about nurturing valuable ideas that need different perspectives to obtain more and more assertive results.

Creative autonomy
The big difference between a pull system and a push system is that in the first, production is based on demand and not on the team’s capacity.

When we work based on the team’s capabilities, we can predict deliveries, plan more assertively and deliver more.

That’s what the pull system promotes, freedom and autonomy for team members to pull their activities, either to challenge themselves or to have more ease based on their skills.

For example, when a UX Writer is pulling a UI task to help expand your Prototyping and Design skills. Or when a Motion Designer tries to pull a Digital Strategy assignment to improve their strategy skills and expand their knowledge.

It is an easier way of distributing tasks, not imposing the leader’s will, even if there are times when it is necessary to delegate activities according to the project’s strategy or urgency.

Of course, all this will depend on the team’s maturity in understanding how they can self-organize to deliver maximum value sustainably.

Kanban practices to get started with your creative team

1. Workflow
Visualizing the workflow is a fundamental practice for everyone to know how the project or deliveries are progressing quickly, thus enabling the visualization of bottlenecks and waste, to take the necessary actions.

This transparency also helps in the mutual collaboration of team members and improves communication. The Kanban board can be assembled in different ways depending on the stages of the process until the completion and completion of tasks.

2. Limiting Work in Progress
Creative teams are constantly charged by deadlines, as this is an area that receives demands from various company cores, whether from the board, client, end marketing, development, marketing, etc.

To avoid delays, it is important to limit WIP(work in) progress), which is an extremely important practice to be transparent about the team’s ability to deliver.

When demanders have this visibility, it is easier to make agreements, prioritize demands according to the strategy or extend deadlines so that the work can flow more easily.

3. Manage the flow
Managing the flow implies seeking continuous improvement. Use the board to observe the flow of activities, identifying blockages, bottlenecks, flow problems, and collecting metrics that will help you draw an action plan that involves resolving these points.

It is important to have a figure on the team who seeks this continuous improvement and who will always be aware of the team’s ability to deliver.

4. Making process policies explicit
Understanding the team’s capability is just as important as making it visible. That’s why it’s interesting to make these process policies very explicit.

For example, when can you enter the “To do” column? As long as all the information on the date, content, deadline, referral links, prioritization level, etc… are filled.

Thus, everyone involved understands the flow that the team has established as a process, and how they should carry out their requests. In this way, you can take metrics for improvements, monitoring, for example, the number of deliveries or reduction in delivery time for similar tasks.

5. Implement feedback loops
Feedback loops within a Kanban system help make sure you deliver the expected product with the right quality. Feedback loops are also an excellent way to minimize risk as decisions are continually validated and quality issues are exposed immediately.

Thus, everyone on the team can be on the same page regarding difficulties and challenges, giving better visibility of where to focus improvement efforts.

The team needs to establish when these feedback moments should be implemented: monthly, fortnightly, always in large deliveries, etc.

It is an agreement between the team, and the frequency should not exceed 3 months to avoid forgetting the points raised. It is important here to monitor changes and their impacts.

6. Use templates to recognize improvement and opportunities

In creative teams, we have to break the paradigms of individualism that may arise, seeking to promote moments of reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of the current process and outline an action plan to improve the whole. There are several models you can use, including TOC, System thinking.

The role of team leaders and managers with this creative characteristic is to monitor and manage this flow to reach a stage of delivering real value to internal or external customers.

The metrics and transparency that Kanban brings as a system and methodology help to defend and shield creative teams, promoting a more productive environment without waste.

That’s because it’s easier to prioritize deliveries according to the company’s business objectives, generating real value.

Regardless of the methodology, tool, or framework you choose for your team, the most important thing is to stop starting and start finishing. This is Kanban’s main message to the world and creative teams today.

Organize your creativity with GitScrum’s Kanban Boards!

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Leonardo Salles

Copywriter for GitScrum.