The Illusion of a Personal Workflow

One of the biggest learnings after 5 years of personal kanban is that most people have no defined workflow at all. Or rather, they have incoming communication as an illusion of workflow. Most people are not paid to answer emails and chats, yet that is typically what constitutes work triggers for many.

Real workflow should start with what you are supposed to accomplish this year, month, week or day, what resources are needed for that and what communication is necessary at what stage. Then you can decide when to tap into emails, social media or Slack.

Many people are driven by the email workflow illusion. If you take emails away, some people have no idea what they are supposed to do. Defining the goals, weekly or daily targets (does not have to be a sprint) is critical in defining workflow. The Lean Kanban principles are helpful judging whether we have the right workflow for ourselves.

We should be able to answer these 5 questions at any time without a single meeting:

  • What are the key outcomes I am working on?
  • Which of these add value to the customers?
  • What are the key results my team members are working on?
  • Where do we need to collaborate?
  • How am I measuring the results of those tasks?

A good Kanban board should give you the answers to these.

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