In today’s dynamic and fast-paced world, embracing change and driving digital transformation is crucial for success. As a leader responsible for product management, it is essential to draw inspiration from various sources to guide our teams effectively.
One such source of inspiration in my life is the Scout movement, founded by Robert Baden-Powell, which instills timeless principles of helping others and leaving the world a better place. Surprisingly, these principles resonate remarkably well with the Kanban, a powerful method for managing the workﬂow of knowledge and driving continuous improvement.
Upon completing a Kanban System Design course at K21, Kanban University and reﬂecting on my own experiences as a scoutmaster (member of KMCSSZ – Hungarian Scout Association in Exteris) I have decided to write about the top 3 overlapping values between Scout Principles and Kanban method to bring positive outcomes about leading change and driving digital transformation with evolutionary change.
Scouts work together to achieve common goals. Teams using the Kanban system collaborate to optimize workﬂow and achieve continuous improvement.
At the heart of the Scout movement lies the principle of helping others. Scouts are encouraged to be kind, considerate, and always ready to lend a helping hand. The Kanban Method emphasizes collaboration among team members to optimize workﬂow and drive continuous improvement.
In both contexts, collaboration fosters collective intelligence, knowledge, and skills, enabling teams to tackle challenges more effectively. It promotes a sense of unity, trust, and respect, allowing team members to leverage their diverse perspectives and strengths.
As a leader, embodying this principle can signiﬁcantly impact the ability to lead teams through change. Demonstrate collaborative behaviors by actively participating in team discussions, seeking input from others, and embracing diverse perspectives.
Encourage collaboration by acknowledging and appreciating the contributions of team members. Lead with empathy, respect, and a willingness to listen. By modeling collaborative behaviors, you inspire and empower your team members to collaborate effectively.
The Scouts embrace transparency as a means of creating an open and honest environment that fosters the development of responsible citizens. Similarly, teams using the Kanban system value transparency in all aspects of work. This entails making work visible, such as through Kanban boards, so that team members and stakeholders can have a clear understanding of the status, progress, and challenges faced by the team.
Transparency plays a vital role in the Scouts movement, contributing to its values of trust, accountability, and personal growth. Scouts are encouraged to communicate openly and honestly with their peers, leaders, and the wider community. This transparent communication allows for effective collaboration, the sharing of ideas, and the resolution of conﬂicts. Open communication also promotes understanding, empathy, and respect among Scouts, creating a supportive and inclusive atmosphere.
Transparency is also evident in the recognition and celebration of Scouts’ progress and achievements. Scouts often keep track of their accomplishments through badges, awards, and records that are openly shared and displayed. Similarly, the Kanban method provides a clear understanding of work processes, progress, and challenges within a team or organization. It promotes trust, collaboration, and informed decision-making.
The Kanban method advocates for setting explicit limits on the number of work items that can be in progress at any given time. These limits are made transparent to the team, ensuring that they can see and understand the capacity constraints. Work-in-Progress (WIP) limits promote balance and prevent overburdening of team members, enabling a smoother ﬂow of work and reducing bottlenecks.
As a leader, it is crucial to embrace transparency within the team. By being open and honest with team members, a leader establishes credibility and integrity. When team members perceive their leader as transparent, they feel more comfortable expressing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns. Trust enables effective communication, cooperation, and a sense of psychological safety within the team. Embracing transparency is a true winning path to enable change and foster a positive team culture.
Leadership is at the core of the Scouts movement, which aims to develop responsible and active citizens who contribute positively to society. Scouts are encouraged to take ownership and responsibility for their actions. Teams using the Kanban system provide clarity of purpose, facilitating continuous improvement, and empowering teams to make decisions. They empower their team members to unlock their full potential, driving exceptional results and leading to increased productivity and improved quality for all.
In the Scouts, leaders are expected to lead by example. They embody the values and principles of the Scout Law and Promise, demonstrating integrity, respect, and responsibility in their actions. By setting a positive example, leaders inspire and inﬂuence others to follow suit, fostering a culture of ethical behavior and personal growth.
Kanban leaders help create a shared vision that aligns the team’s efforts with the organization’s goals. They provide guidance, support, and resources to enable team members to make informed decisions, take ownership of their work, and continuously improve their processes.
Empowered teams are more engaged, innovative, and productive.
As a leader you can grant autonomy and ownership to your team members. Provide them with clear goals, objectives, and expectations, and then trust them to ﬁnd innovative solutions and make decisions within their areas of expertise. Encourage your team members to take ownership of their tasks, make independent decisions, and be accountable for the outcomes, empowering them to showcase their skills and take pride in their work.
By demonstrating your own dedication to personal growth, you inspire your team members to do the same. Leading by example creates a culture of continuous improvement, where your team members are motivated to seek new knowledge, acquire new skills to embrace change and develop a sense of ownership and belonging.
Through these shared values and by leveraging the principles of Kanban, teams can employ better visual management techniques that enable both team members and stakeholders to easily track tasks, identify bottlenecks, and make informed decisions. This visibility helps promote transparency, collaboration, and effective communication within the team, fostering a shared understanding and alignment towards achieving the team’s goals. Ultimately, it enhances productivity, reduces waste, and facilitates the delivery of value to customers.
Baden-Powell’s vision for Scouts was to create responsible citizens who actively contribute to society. This powerful idea aligns closely with the purpose of digital transformation – to create positive change and improve the world around us.
In his words: “Leave this world a little better than you found it.”
Imagine if you could sit down today for a talk with Baden-Powell. What would you share as your contribution to leaving the world a better place than you found it?
Keywords: Scouts, Kanban, Leadership, Transparency, Collaboration, Change, Innovation, Visibility, Continuous Improvement, Empowerment, Digital Transformation.
- ANDERSON, David J. ; CARMICHAEL, Andy. Essential Kanban Condensed. Seattle: Lean Kanban University Press, 2016.
- KMCSSZ online library: https://kmcssz.org/e-konyvtar/ Accessed on July 3rd, 2023.