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Kanban Meetings: What They Are and How to Run Them Successfully

We're breaking down how kanban meeting can maximize your team's efforts to help complete projects on time.

By Fellow.app  •   September 21, 2021  •   9 min read

Think about how many times you’ve huffed “waste of time!” to yourself after something that didn’t feel rewarding. The workplace is no exception, and in these settings, wasted time and team efforts are especially costly. Every year, workflow inefficiencies cut business revenues by 20 to 30 percent. The good news is that you can chip away at these inefficiencies by organizing kanban meetings with your team.

Through kanban meetings, you can focus your team on specific tasks and identify inefficiencies in your team’s workflow. It’s essentially Lean management made into a meeting. It’s also a pretty diverse meeting type: It has a handful of subtypes you can use toward whatever goals you have. In other words, kanban meetings might soon be your new favorite tactic in your management toolbox. Below, learn how kanban meetings maximize your team’s efforts and help you properly complete your projects.

What is a kanban meeting?

A kanban meeting helps you streamline the tasks your team must complete while tracking each task’s progress. During your meeting, you’ll check in with your team to recategorize tasks based on their status, address any challenges, and assess the whole workflow. You’ll find holes in your process and see how your team’s efforts can be organized to better aid in the project’s completion.

We’ll explain more in a second, but first: Admittedly, the Kanban method requires complex tracking. Take a deep breath, though – the kanban meeting is way simpler when put into action than it looks. During your meeting, you’ll simply divide tasks for a project into categories of “To-Do,” “In Progress,” and “Completed.” Each of these categories and their respective tasks is placed on a kanban board that shows all progress. This way, everyone can get on the same page and plan for success.

Pro tip

Use a meeting management tool like Fellow to easily check in with your team and document tasks, action items, and progress.

More about the kanban methodology

The kanban method can totally shake up how you work. Instead of churning out products for customers or clients based on certain predictions, for example, your product managers only make new items when you know inventory is low. This way, you prevent a surplus from piling up in your inventory – after all, untouched inventory blocks your potential revenue and thus cash flow. You’ll also get the added benefit of lower production costs.

In other words, kanban is a great excuse for everyone to do less work, which sounds kind of nice. But it’s not like you’re throwing tasks out the window all willy-nilly – you’ll be left with just the most important tasks.

Types of kanban meetings

Behind the Kanban method’s complexity is a simple goal: Improving and expediting your team’s workflows. Several types of kanban meetings can help you properly distribute tasks among your kanban board (that’s a fancy, kanban way of saying “reach your goals”). You should hold kanban meetings regularly to get an up-to-date look at how tasks are progressing and find ways to avoid duplicated or unnecessary tasks. Waste elimination is the name of the game.

Below are several different types of kanban meetings and the role they play in the kanban process. How often you choose to hold these meetings largely depends on the complexity of your tasks and how quickly your kanban team is able to work through them.

1 Daily stand-up meeting

The daily stand-up meeting, also known as the team kanban or daily kanban meeting, should start your team’s workday and set a basic plan of attack for completing tasks. Briefly gather your team – and “briefly” is key here, as 15 minutes is long enough – for updates on task progress and the previous day’s roadblocks. Use what you learn to set today’s goals. Focus more on which tasks will progress the project quickly rather than who will complete each task.

2 Replenishment meeting

During replenishment meetings, you and your team will collectively decide on new tasks to tackle. You’ll pull these tasks from the “To-Do” section of your kanban board, where you’ve listed the tasks your team needs to accomplish. Think of this section as a backlog of tasks and your replenishment meetings as your chance to work through the pile-up.

During your replenishment meeting, you should prioritize tasks that your team needs to complete now so that other tasks can be done later. Yes, that’s the obvious way of setting up a smooth workflow, but it’s so important it bears repeating! Additionally, to help prevent task overlap and confusion among your team members, you should clarify everyone’s expectations and outline the specific details of the task at hand.

3 Service delivery review meeting

During service delivery review meetings, you’ll check on how well your team’s work is meeting your project’s requirements and your clients’ needs. You’ll start your meeting by looking at the “Completed” section of your kanban board and moving backward to the “To-Do” section. This way, you get a retrospective look at your team’s progress and figure out how you can improve their workflows. You’ll easily see whether your team’s work is up to par and identify any problems that might be inhibiting their optimal performance

4 Delivery planning meeting

You’ll set deadlines at delivery planning kanban meetings. Despite how fancy “delivery planning” sounds, it’s really that simple: You’re just deciding when to hand your deliverables to clients.

Before a delivery planning meeting, your tasks should be complete or at least extremely close to done. You should be nearly entirely ready to hand the product to your client or sign off on the project’s completion. The real challenge is planning deliverable dates that are realistic for every team member to achieve given their other tasks.

5 Risk review meeting

Risk review kanban meetings are intended for you and your team to discuss issues that have arisen during workflows. You should discuss how these issues threatened the successful delivery of your product or the completion of the project. You should also establish and analyze strategies that your team can use to better monitor, discuss, and manage risks. This way, you’re all prepared to absolutely nail it next time around.

6 Operations review meeting

Unresolved issues within one team’s processes can slow or entirely prevent progress among other teams. The operations review meeting takes a look at the ecosystem all your teams share and lets you figure out where improvements are needed. For example, let’s say your dev team is waiting several days for certain resources from your marketing team. In that case, you’ll all need to review operations to see how the marketing team can get the dev team their resources way faster. Again, that time wasted is doing nobody any favors.

7 Strategy review meeting

If an operations review involves a bird’s eye view on project management, strategy review meetings happen all the way from outer space. That’s because reviewing your team’s strategies requires you to look beyond your business and its clients. You’ll need to assess how your team’s efforts compare to industry standards, market changes, and your company’s competition. This perspective can help you identify broader goals for your team and implement them every day.

What are the differences between a scrum and kanban meeting?

You’ll often see kanban meetings discussed alongside scrum meetings since agile teams often use one or the other. Plus, both methodologies break down complex projects into more manageable goals. Yet though these types of meetings have similar goals, their approaches are quite different. Where kanban is all about time (efficiency), scrum meetings center more around your team and product. Key differences include:

Project vs. Individual

Kanban meetings focus your team’s attention on the most important tasks at hand. After a project wraps up, you’ll assess the whole team’s workflow and efficiency. Scrum team members, however, would reflect on their individual efforts and how they can improve solely their own efforts the next go-round.

Task vs. Execution

A kanban meeting involves reducing the time it takes to accomplish. Put another way, moving tasks as quickly as possible through the whole team’s kanban board is the goal. On the other hand, a scrum meeting focuses on each team member’s specific plans for accomplishing their tasks. It’s like looking at how each player makes the team it’s excellent whole.

Flow vs. Product

Kanban meetings allow teams to visualize the process of working through a project. Even brief daily meetings, for example, focus on workflow, as they start with discussions of which tasks need to move across the board before others can be started. Scrum meetings focus on the end product instead and consider factors like product quality and functionality.

9 tips on how to hold a kanban meeting

Before you hold your first kanban meeting, it’s important to figure out how to make the best of you and your team’s time during the meeting. After all, that’s the purpose of everything Kanban! Follow the below tips to make the most of your kanban meetings:

1 Don’t be late

Kanban meetings are all about time management and efficiency. Your meeting should follow suit. Start your meeting on time so your team can get back to work as soon as possible and keep your project on track.

2 Keep your meeting short

Starting your meeting on time means little if the meeting takes forever. Plan your meeting to be just long enough to get through the agenda. Simply get your team up to date – and then, right back to work.

3 Avoid delayed tasks

Some tasks may require more work than initially expected. Instead of neglecting these tasks and moving onto others, it’s important to find solutions to these challenges now so your project isn’t delayed.

4 Be prepared

Nothing communicates disorganization like scrambling through a meeting. Have key information ready at hand so you’re not using meeting time to gather materials or locate a list of proposed tasks. Create a concise meeting agenda to inform attendees how the meeting will proceed, and refer to it if the discussion moves off-topic.

5 Stay specific

Avoid discussing big-picture ideas or concepts that don’t directly pertain to your project. Instead, focus on tasks and matters that contribute to efficiently completing your project.

6 Respect the audience

While it’s important to keep your meeting on track, try not to rush your team as they give updates on tasks. What team members say might be vital to the rest of the project, so let them speak uninterrupted. Help them feel comfortable sharing any challenges that might be slowing their progress to avoid any surprises later.

7 Share information; don’t report it

Reporting means delivering information only to you or a supervisor, which isn’t helpful for kanban meetings. Everyone is working on the same project, so encourage your team members to share all their updates with the rest of the team. Open communication can help keep everyone informed.

8 Improve your oratory skills

When you speak, be clear. Set obvious expectations and include specific details. Vague language can breed confusion, which is counterproductive to your meeting and your team’s work.

9 Don’t allow devices

Replying to text messages or responding to emails can distract your team. When team members miss important information, you lose the very time you’re intending to save since you’ll have to explain again later. To avoid this issue, ask your team to leave their devices at their desks.

The way to efficiency

Kanban meetings can help your team assess their workflows and identify inefficiencies. Keeping your tasks at the focus of each meeting can help you ensure you’re on the most direct path to project completion. Plus, the many types of kanban meetings can serve your team at every stage of your projects. To make them all easier, Fellow offers tons of meeting tools you can use to properly check-in with your team and keep everyone productive.

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