Kanban values workshop

Joan Díaz
4 min readJun 26, 2018


Last day I worked with a team in order to improve how they use Kanban and we did it using Liberating Structures and also talking about the 9 core values of Kanban.

A subset of structures from Liberating Structures

First of all, a quick introduction to Liberating Structures: They are 33 easy-to-learn microstructures that enhance relational coordination and trust, they are different from the old fashion and well-known microstructures like: brainstorming, open discussion, status report, managed discussion and presentation. They quickly foster lively participation in groups of any size, making it possible to truly include and unleash everyone. Liberating Structures are a disruptive innovation that can replace more controlling or constraining approaches.

Then, for this particular case, we did this string of Liberating Structures:

Let’s start then! At the very beginning of the workshop we started reviewing Kanban’s core values: Transparency, Balance, Flow, Respect, Leadership, Collaboration, Customer Focus, Agreement and Understanding; in order to check that all of us were on the same page and all of us understand them the same way. You can go deeper inside these values through Mike Borrow's book “Kanban from the inside

First, we asked these two questions (based on the first exercise of “Kanban values exercise” from Mike Borrow, link here): “Choose 3 values that resonate with you personally” & “Choose 3 values that seem important or challenging in the company we work for”. In order to spread our knowledge, different points of view and create great conversations we did this using Impromptu Network.

Second, once finish this first interaction, we move to choose 3 values that are important for us as a team. We did that with 1–2–4-All and taking into account all the information we gathered with our teammates on the exercise before, on the Impromptu Network. We finished showing all that we decided.

It’s a quite young team using Kanban, so in my opinion, is ok they are more concerned about Transparency, Respect and Collaboration. This is because they have already underpinned level 1 and currently trying to feel comfortable on level 2 of maturity (Kanban Maturity Model) Transparency and Collaboration are the two values more important in order to move forward. Step by step they are trying to feel the flow :)

Third, we used the “ladder of interference” with WWW (What, So What, Now What?) doing three rounds: what happened here? What patterns or conclusions are emerging? We did these two first steps by doing two groups of 5 and gathering information.

Finally, as the last step of WWW, we used 15% Solutions to decide which things we could start doing at the “Now What” moment, taking into account all this stuff that we can start to do now, without external approval or permissions without any more resources. We should choose only one thing but first, we did a little refinement, doing little groups to share with teammates our ideas. Then we shared with all of the team while doing value clusters, doing that we could easily see the relationship between the action and the value.

One important point, we started the meeting with a couple of exercises in order to create a good environment and a good mood. First of all, we played Happy Salmon I really like this game because helps to break the ice, this is important because we want to be there as relaxed as we can in order to create a good environment.

After that we did ESVP exercise, excellent to know how is team’s mood, the point is to do a quick round in order to understand how people feel about this meeting. E: Explorer (I’m going to take all the ideas, new information, etc.), S: Shopper (I’m ok with just a couple of new things, that’s ok), V: Vacations (better being here at the meeting that working, right?), P: Prisoner (I’m suffering, I don’t want to be there).

This was a really good beginning and after all, we enjoyed a lot doing the workshop :)

Please share your feedback or other workshops related to values! :)

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Joan Díaz

Agile, Lean, company culture, new ways of management or self-management enthusiast.