The Kanban Method and new job search

Hi, everybody!

Guys, today I want to share the experience of finding a new job using the Kanban method. Background: in November of last year, I left the walls of the Alfa-Bank with the desire to rest a little and accept a very interesting proposal. Unfortunately, at the final stage of the negotiations something went wrong, and I had to quickly change my plans and look for a new job.

To this end, I published a post on Facebook, where said that I was looking for a new job. Frankly, the result was quite unexpected for me number of proposals. There were so many of them that at some point I lost control of the situation. I couldn’t do:

  1. Quickly and deliberately respond to all incoming messages.
  2. Remember what I want.
  3. Match the proposal to the desires.

As it usually happens, in a stressful situation, we often turn not to new tools and practices, but to familiar and proven habits. My response to stress was the use of the Kanban Method.

This story is about how to use this method practices as a project manager. Also, in my opinion, it will be useful to freelancers, working with a large flow of incoming orders and several customers.

The First visualisation

The first visualisation looked like this (Figure 1) and in my opinion was pretty standard.

Figure 1.

I presented the stages through which the employer’s proposal passes:

  1. Queue.
  2. 1st contact / activation.
  3. 2nd contact / personal meeting.
  4. 3rd contact / Job offer (proposal).
  5. Going to a new place, signing a contract.
  6. I got a job, I work.

For myself, I immediately decided that at any stage it might happen that the proposal was withdrawn. I focused only on the most “sweet” options and without regret refused to be unsuitable.

A couple of days later I realised that this approach does not suit me, and erased the boundaries between the stages (Figure 2).

Figure 2.

Here I used the visualization reception from KSD training from LKU trainer Aleksei Pimenov: I presented the abscissa (X) as a timeline with deadlines on the ninth of January and the ordinate (Y) in the form of a supply value. I expressed the value in the form of the numbers of the Fibonacci series, where 13 is an out-of-bound proposal that exactly meets all the fitness criteria of the goal.

Why did I erase the boundaries? After a couple of days of using the first version, I realised that the set of stages is too formal and has a low degree of flexibility. It was extremely difficult to follow them. As soon as I removed the borders and posted offers on qualitative characteristics (how much time I had left, and how much I was interested in the proposal), I immediately felt relieved.

Very soon, I combined all the stages into one – “Search” of my “company – In work”, and it went.

Figure 3.

Another thing that helped me is ranking the value of incoming sentences to the left of the system (Figure 4).

Figure 4.

Look. In the left corner of the photo the cards are already ranked by value. Here in my head for the first time the idea of Discovery Kanban.

The next photo shows the goal in the upper right corner. I wrote it down with a red marker and gave a rather detailed description of the fitness criteria. From that moment on, all visualisation turned into a kind of value stream from sentences that were supposed to lead me to the goal.

Figure 5.

Offtopic:

In general, understanding that the Kanban method lives in the service paradigm can greatly advance you in mastering the method. In the Kanban method, you look at everything that surrounds you, as a service. No products, no projects, no departments – there are only services. Each serves a customer. Everyone has criteria, by which we understand that the level of service is optimal for the customer. In this example, I presented a job search project in the form of a service that helps me find a dream job. I was the customer of this service, and I had certain wishes for his work and for the result.

Think about it. What services surround you?

The Discovery Kanban

Let’s move on. I mentioned above about Discovery Kanban. Voila! The next improvement was just the division of visualisation into two stages (Figure 6) with the addition of this:

  1. Discovery.
  2. Delivery.
Figure 6.

At some point, I realised that I want to respond to all new proposals at least twice, consciously and within 24 hours, and during this time for most of the proposals (90%) to decide whether it is suitable or not. For this, I highlight the “Study” stage, where I quickly plunged into the proposal, figured out the details and made a decision. The WIP-limit was floating (five to seven). The task of this stage was to weed out all unnecessary. Look at the next photo (Figure 7).

Figure 7.

The second stage included proposals that had passed through a strict initial selection. If the interlocutor kept the silence for too long, the horizons were too vague and the proposal did not fit in the fitness criteria, it moved down. The chances that it would return to work were almost zero (this happened only once). I admit, sometimes it was very difficult to reject an interesting proposal. But I had no other choice. In any case, I wanted to come to the goal (just like Dodo Pizza with their billion :).

In the “Delivery” stage, the WIP-limit was fixed (five). Here I put a deadline in a couple of weeks to find a card in the work. If during this time the offer did not turn into a specific offer, the probability that it would be eliminated increased sharply.

Soon I stopped considering new incoming offers. Before the new year there was a couple of weeks and I wanted to rest. In the photo below (Figure 8) in the “Queue” is empty. I began to pinch the selected proposals and planned, in case of failure, from the new year to resume the search, launching a second iteration.

Figure 8.

Outcomes

The result of the search was an offer from Home Credit Bank. There was a dramatic moment, but let this story remain in a narrow circle of initiates. I am grateful to HCFB for showing patience, the opportunity for self-realisation and I hope it was useful there 🙂

Figure 9.

In the photo (Figure 9), the winner’s card is circled in a red circle. Job offer corresponded to the maximum number of fitness criteria for the goal.

In this project I used all the practices of the Kanban method:

  1. Visualisation. To sort out the chaos of working with sentences and present it as a stream.
  2. WIP-limits. To respond quickly and intelligently to incoming proposals.
  3. Manage the flow. Changing the visualization and WIP-limits, I experimentally looked for the optimal balance between load and bandwidth.
  4. Explicit policies. I have outlined the goal, fitness criteria, the rules for switching cards from stage to stage, ranking rules.
  5. Feedback loops. Every morning I looked at the board and made a decision on what to work on today. Once in two or three days I looked at the whole stream and understood how to change its direction.
  6. Evolutionary development. The latest version of the kanban board became the result of small changes in the original version, which I constantly adjusted to the goal.

As I wrote above, this example will be useful for project managers and freelancers alone. At this point in the post, it seems like it’s time to call them to use the Kanban method, but today I will refuse it.

The Kanban method is really very cool. Every day I use it in different projects and time after time I’m convinced of its survivability. However, today I would like to call you to another.

If you use the Kanban method and want more, look at the world through the prism of services. This is really very important. Once you do this, you will discover many new features in a seemingly familiar tool.

Good luck, friends!