Note from the editor: In the original version of this post, we used the term Center of Excellence to describe a group of people who committed to learning and teaching Lean and Kanban methods within their teams. After several engaging discussions with internal and external thought leaders, we agreed that the term Community of Practice better represented the concept we wanted to encourage: a growing, evolving, inclusive community of people within an organization, committed to learning, experimenting, and continuously improving in their practice of Lean and Kanban.
In our experiences working with teams around the world, in different industries, with different goals, we’ve found one thing to be true: Developing a Community of Practice is essential for the sustainable adoption of not only our product, but of a continuously maturing Kanban initiative.
This isn’t a new concept; you might have played the role of “Community of Practice” in your team or department without realizing it. Often, the community will form organically, out of a desire to sustainably implement and practice Lean and Kanban consistently across a team, department, or organization. If you’re new to the concept, keep reading to learn why we strongly advocate for Communities of Practice as part of an effective Lean and Kanban implementation.
What is a Community of Practice?
A Community of Practice is a group of people eager to share knowledge ; this team is responsible for creating and organizing boards, and making decisions regarding the training of new users.
The first step toward creating this Community of Practice is to identify and organize the group members, communicate expectations, and begin establishing processes for how this group will best support your users.
Who Should Make the Team?
When your team is first getting started, it might be difficult to determine who would be best suited to be in your Community of Practice. Luckily, practicing Lean and Kanban with LeanKit is intuitive by design, so no technical expertise is required to be part of a Community of Practice. All that’s required is a commitment to learning, growing, and sharing knowledge across your team in a clear, organized way. To determine who should be included, use these questions:
- Who on your team is responsible for work flowing in and out?
- Do you have a systems person who manages the different tools your team uses?
- Do you have a project lead who oversees the prioritization of work for a team?
If you said yes to any of these roles, congratulations! You’re a perfect candidate for your team’s Community of Practice.
Responsibilities of the Community of Practice
Now that you know who should make up this group of super users, it’s important to understand the responsibilities that come with membership. As a member of this super group, you’ll need to be an administrator, board creator or manager in order to have the flexibility to control and manage boards and users. You can find more information on those user settings here: user access roles.
Outside of the type of access you’ll have, some of the most important responsibilities of a Community of Practice include educating new users about the system, creating and implementing procedures for using the product, and creating an internal support system. By internal support system, we mean some place users know they can go to to get simple questions answered, such as:
- How do I change my password?
- How do I get access to a board?
- How do I create a card?
- How can I edit the board layout?
If you’re interested in becoming part of a Community of Practice, we highly recommend attending LeanKit and Lean/Kanban training. Learn more about the benefits of training in this post.
We recommend the following training opportunities to teams who are just getting started:
- LeanKit User Training: This interactive course will provide a basic training on how to use our tool.
- Board Analytics Training: This course covers all of the reports available in the LeanKit application.
- Kanban Essentials Training: This private course provides an introduction to the Kanban Method and how it can be used to improve the flow of value delivery in an organization.
- Office Hours: In these free weekly sessions, our experts are available to answer questions, teach and reinforce Lean and Kanban concepts, and guide you through any challenges your team may be facing. Learn more about Office Hours here.
Learn more about training opportunities on our Training page.
Commitment and Payoff
Creating a Community of Practice, and being a resource for your team, may sound like quite the time commitment. In general, this depends on the complexity of your overall LeanKit environment (number of boards as an example), the number of users, deployment of advanced features and functionality.
There will be some time and maintenance involved, especially on the front end. We recommend to start small and start simple! Also, keep your end goal in mind: By doing the “leg work” in the beginning, the overall time spent educating new teams/users will be less and less as you become more organized in how you manage this system.
Remember the Goal: Continuous Improvement
Keep in mind why you started using LeanKit: You had goals you wanted to achieve and challenges you wanted to overcome. You heard stories about how LeanKit helped teams just like yours to save time, money, and energy while gaining visibility and transparency that they’d never imagined.
Creating a Community of Practice will allow your team to practice continuous improvement in a methodical, sustainable way. It will also give you the structure and consistency to not only tackle your current challenges, but any future challenges you may face in a healthy, productive way.
To learn more about how to grow in your team’s Lean and Kanban practice, we recommend these resources: