Slack is Unplanned Improvement Work

Full utilization cause delays -
Full utilization is not effective, not efficient, and causes delays

Being busy all the time is bad for you, your team, and your organization.  It is far better to allow for slack, which is not a bad thing, but creates opportunities for improvement without needing to schedule them.

“Recipe” for what to work on next, incorporating slack:

  1. Can you help progress existing planned, started work?
    Work on that.
  2. Can’t do that?
    Find bottleneck and help work to release it.
  3. Can’t do that either?
    Do some (improvement) work which

    • won’t create any work downstream,
    • will improve future throughput, and
    • can be paused as soon as existing kanban related work is available.

A bit more reading related to slack.

Lean Coffee: Democratic, Responsive Meetings

Lean Coffee is a meeting format where you don’t finalize the agenda before the meeting starts.

It can take place in a café, but also in a meeting room, living room, or almost anywhere.

The topic is often Lean, Kanban, agility in business and product development (like software development), but the format lends itself to any topic.

An example of established groups meeting for lean coffee is Lean Coffee Oslo.

These groups are people meeting on their own time to learn, but this format has big potential benefits in business context as well.

Lean Coffee at a café

A few quotes from LWS on Lean Coffee:

Essentially, a Lean Coffee is a group of people working together to learn … in an informal setting.  It’s like a mini-unconference where the participants decide on the schedule.

Step 1: Everybody writes down topics they’d like to discuss on stickies ….
Step 2: Each topic is briefly described …
Step 3: … votes …
Step 4: … stickies with the most votes at the top
Step 5: Each of these stickies are discussed
Step 6: If enough time … do another stickie

A few quotes from @ourfounder and @sprezzatura on why democratize meetings:

Agendas are so 20th Century.

When you set an agenda, you control the conversation. …. When you control the agenda, you control the lessons learned. Since we enter a meeting with only our assumptions to guide us, agendas follow our assumptions. Our assumptions are based on what we already know. But what about the things we don’t know? Quite often, it’s the conversations we don’t plan on that give us the most insight. Why not instead run our meetings to learn or to discover?

Conventional wisdom suggests that businesses hold far too many meetings attendees deem a waste of their time. ….  To combat this, some call for meetings with rigid agendas.

the discussion of a stated topic is a conversation. In fact, the entire reason we are calling the meeting is to have a conversation.

If we want to learn from our meetings, we need to allow the conversation to be set by the very professionals we invited to the meeting in the first place.  …. Allowing the group to have a say in setting the agenda gives them buy-in for the importance of the topics.

as the person who called the meeting, you can now direct the overall topic and even seed a few of the initial sticky notes. You can even set a few “must discuss” stickies at the top of the board and prioritize them the highest.


  • Takeaways
    • either privately or f.ex a right-most column on the board
    • per topic or sharing takeaways in general at the end of the lean coffee

Read more:


the purpose of education should be to make us more effective at life

The time has come to stop quietly accepting the mistaken – yet popular – notion that education is primarly about getting jobs. The purpose of education is to make us better at using the collective knowledge of the human race in all areas of life. Yes, this includes our jobs, but it also includes raising our children, being informed citizens, managing our households, enjoying our leisure time, and just being good neighbors. Education should be to make us more effective at life. And as a powerful, new and poorly understood technology, computer education should be central to our learning experience


*Everyone* needs to learn the fundamentals [of how to use computer technology], right in the core curriculum along with math, science, reading and history.

Thoughts On …: Teaching Magic

Jakob Nielsen, too, advocates teaching life-long computer skills, like search strategies and basic debugging.

on the tip of your tongue?

don’t try to dig deep in your memory…

look it up right away, or just stop and let it go.

longer you try to come up with the word that’s on the tip of your
tongue, the more likely you’ll be to get stuck on that word in the
has] implications for the classroom …  “If the student can’t learn
something or can’t remember something… then you often see the teacher
encouraging them to work through it. ‘Just keep trying. It’ll come to
[but] Instead of trying to remember, students should look up the correct answer.
[and when you can’t look up right now?]
For those situations, Humphreys’ advises that you “don’t keep trying. Just stop.”

remember, if you’re trying to help out somebody who’s stuck, you should
give them the answer. Humphreys also says you should “get them to
repeat it back to you. But don’t leave them in this state where they
just have to keep trying, because they’re just going to be digging
themselves into that error again.”

Tip of the Tongue Learning: Science Videos – Science News – ScienCentral

life-long computer skills

i have been thinking about this for a while, without being very specific. as it turns out, Nielsen thought about the specifics before i got to it…

Life-Long Computer Skills (Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox)

Schools should teach deep, strategic computer insights that can’t be learned from reading a manual
There is some value in teaching kids skills they
can apply immediately, while they’re still in school, but there’s more value in teaching them deeper concepts that will benefit them forever, regardless
of changes in specific applications
[This will give] students insights that they’re unlikely to pick up on their own
People will
learn how to use features on their own, when they need them — and thus have the motivation to hunt for them. It’s the conceptual things
that get endlessly deferred without the impetus of formal education.

Following are some general skills that I think we should teach in elementary

here’s the short version of Nielsen’s list:

  • search strategies
  • information
  • information overload
  • writing for online readers
  • computerized presentation skills
  • workspace
  • debugging
  • user testing and other basic usability guidelines