Mapping Kanban Training to Flight Levels

Recently, Klaus Leopold of Leanability in Vienna has introduced a "flight levels" metaphor to help explain how Kanban training maps to organizational maturity and the focus of improvement for service delivery. This model helps explain how Lean Kanban University training is positioned and why Lean Kanban University training delivers better value than alternative training that offers a shallow understanding of Kanban...

[For a fuller understanding of Kanban & its Flight Levels, you might prefer to download Klaus' slides from Lean Kanban Central Europe]

Flight Level 1

In flight level one a small team or single department gets uncoordinated demands from many sources. Everything appears to be urgent and what gets serviced appears random. There is no repeatability or reliability of service delivery. The customer who shouts loudest gets serviced first.

Flight Level 2

At flight level two some effort is made to coordinate the demands on the team or department and funnel them through a prioritization and selection mechanism. This flight level reflects the process solutions typically offered by Agile software development methodologies. Co-ordinating and stemming off demand at a personal or small team level is also typical of Personal Kanban solutions.

At Flight Level 2 service delivery becomes more repeatable and reliable. There is some governance mechanisms over it and some transparency into prioritization and selection. If implemented properly the team is relieved from over-burdening.

Flight Level 3

Flight Level 3 is where the use of virtual kanban systems truly kicks in. Flight Level 3 provides for an (ideally) end-to-end workflow from customer demand to delivery. Service delivery across a chain of value-creating steps reflects where we first got started with Kanban in 2004 at Microsoft's IT department. It's always been about improving service delivery in across entire workflows and improving the service delivery for the actual customer.

The Lean Kanban University Foundation Level training curriculum teaches students how to get started with Kanban at Flight Level 3. The Introductory Level curriculum provides informational training at the same level. Lean Kanban University does not offer training at lower flight levels because we do not believe such training would provide sufficient value for those attending and the sponsors paying for it. The real business benefits come from improving service delivery for actual customers.

Training at Flight Level 2 would be Personal Kanban training for use with small collaborative teams.

Flight Level 4

Flight Level 4 takes service delivery to an organizational scale - typically a business unit or division of a firm. We've seen implementations up to several thousand people, however a single business unit in the scale of 150 to 600 people is more typical. At such a scale, there are multiple interdependent services, large scale deliverables (projects) and a portfolio of initiatives and service offerings to be managed. Kanban can be used across and throughout such a large scale organization by scaling it out in a service-oriented fashion and by scaling it up for large projects using 2-tiered kanban systems and portfolio level kanban boards. The Lean Kanban University Advanced Practitioner curriculum teaches how  to scale Kanban across large organizations operating at Flight Level 4.