The Map before the Kanban Board


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I have found when introducing a Kanban board to Sales and Marketing people that some find Kanban limiting from a planning perspective. They like the concept but have difficulty seeing the entire picture of flow and what the expectations and resources needed. This coupled with the fact that many of the teams are made up of cross-functional areas. They still like the traditional Gantt chart arrangement where the scope if created, a project is broken down and then tasks are assigned and scheduled.

What they wanted to see was how information flowed, not the scheduling. Scheduling in sales and marketing, outside of some event driven task, is about people, not time. A tool that I was familiar with was Four Fields Mapping. Four Fields mapping stems from Toyota and is a method of project planning. The mapping system connects four fields:

  1. Phases: This defines the “What” of the process. In CAP-Do, for example, it would be Check- Act – Plan – Do as the phases. Each phase has entry/exit criteria or in other words defining the handoff.
  2. People: This identifies the people or teams or simpler terms the “Who” of a process. The people are stretched across the top of the map instead of the typical time element in a Gantt Chart.
  3. Tasks: This is the actual map of the process and defines “How” or the activities that will be used to do the job. The difference in the mapping exercise is that it is vertical from top to bottom versus horizontal.
  4. Standards: This is the secret sauce of Four Fields Mapping. The standards define the “Why” of the process. It clearly states why we are doing this step and to what criteria constitutes acceptable performance. It brings consistency to the process.

Four Fields MappingNow, the problem facing most of us if we decide to utilize Four Fields Mapping is finding something other than Visio or Excel to create the process. Both of them have their positives and negatives. I did not have that problem since I had been using Deployment Flowcharting for over ten years. In the past, I had built custom equipment. We had found that managing our resources effectively by having the right people doing the right work was the most important constraint we had to manage. We scheduled entire jobs around this premise. The software tool we used was Team Flow. It is based on Dr. Deming’s work with Komatsu Tractor Company that resulted in a flowchart which showed the team members across the top of the flowchart. From the Team Flow Literature:

Each process step was aligned vertically under the team member or members who were working it. Process steps were connected by arrows as in ordinary flowcharts to indicate the flow through the process. The Japanese term for this new type of flowchart, which roughly translates into “management across the functions” was Anglicized into “Cross-Functional Management.” Dr. Myron Tribus, former Dean of the Dartmouth College Thayer School of Engineering and a disciple of Dr. Deming, popularized the new methodology in America and named it Deployment Flowcharting for the way it illustrates.

The difference in Team Flow and the actual Four-Fields Mapping process are that the Standards are embedded in the activities or tasks. So if you click on an activity you can find all the necessary material. In addition, Team Flow is much more powerful program than a typical Deployment Flow chart. It incorporates other features such as a Gantt and Org Chart.

Team Flow

I like the functionality and look of this process but have found it somewhat cumbersome working with clients when I have Trello boards that we can use for project work. However, for Team Deployment and gaining acceptance on project criteria, I still rely on this process over others.

Does anyone else use Four Fields Mapping? Or, Deployment Flowcharting?

Pictures are the courtesy of Team Flow

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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