Tag Archives: visual management

Principles of Agile and Super7 compared

Many companies are adopting the principles of agile, nowadays. And they often find that their operations departments are ahead in this field. This is because of their experience with Lean and autonomous teams – their experience with Super7 Operations.

So, how do the principles of agile compare to the princples of Super7 Operations?

The agile principles (source: www.agilemanifesto.org):

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change or the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

The principles of Super7 Operations:

  1. The Super7 team has a goal that is relevant for the customer. The Super 7 team can help each other in achieving this goal. The goal is translated daily to a goal for that day. The Super7 team is committed to achieving the daily goal. When problems arise during the day and the daily goal can’t be met, the Super 7 team responses by doing what they can to come as close as possible to the goal. When that isn’t enough to reach the goal, they ask for help from their team manager.
  2. All Super 7 team members have the skills for all types of work. The Super7 Skills-Matrix shows who can do what, and at what skill level. The Super 7 team members are sufficiently flexible in working hours to be able to meet customer demand on busy days.
  3. Team manager steers on output. Manager stimulates the Super 7 team to come up with solutions. Manager is available and helpful when the Super7 asks for help.
  4. The daily rhythm is tuned to the rhythm of the customer requests. There is a fixed schedule for Super 7 team stand-up meetings, focused on achieving the daily goal.
  5. Super 7 team is autonomous in work distribution and who does what. There is a standard way of working. The team can deviate from this standard, as part of an improvement experiment.
  6. The Super 7 team is stimulated to continuously make the daily goals more challenging. Standard norm times are improved and planning is made tighter. This is done though Improvement Kata and Kaizen. As an Improvement Kata habit, a Super7 conducts small experiments, aimed at achieving the next target condition. For larger improvements, they plan a Kaizen event. There is a constructive performance dialogue, based on facts and figures, on all level of the organization.
  7. The Super 7 uses visual management. Daily goal and progress towards this is visible on the Super7 team board. Performance of last period is visible, as is the trend. Running and planned experiments and improvements are visible on the Super7 team board.                                                                                

The similarities are clear:

  • Delivering value to the customer is the main priority
  • Teamwork is key
  • Self-organization
  • Flexibility over planning
  • Face-to-face is the best way
  • Continuous improvement based on reflection on performance

Because of these similarities, experience with Super7 Operations will facilitate the transition towards agility.

Menno R. van Dijk.


Visual Management for Teamwork – the Team Board

Visual management creates the openness and transparency that are essential for Lean teamwork. Each Lean Team should have a team board, to my opinion. In true Lean companies this is common practice, but in Financial Services I have encountered Lean teams without one. Not so in one department that I helped with the introduction of Lean, or more specifically, a Lean way of working tailored for Financial Services – Super7 Operations.

The benefits that we found from the use of team boards are:

  1. Team pride. Teams are proud of what they achieve, and of the improvements they have made. In this department, each Super7 team chose a team name – often a bit tongue-in-cheek – that was displayed at the top of the board. Often with pictures of the team members matching the theme of the team name.
  2. Output management: Each team shows their progress against the daily target, updated 4 times per day. The manager can see where help is needed, even before the question for help has been asked.
  3. Continuous Improvement: Each team shows the Kata-improvement or the experiment that they conduct that week. And some teams include an improvement idea list for improvements that go beyond their own team scope – which for instance the IT department can work on.
  4. Learning. Weekly dashboards are displayed on the boards, and ‘red lights’ are celebrated as improvement opportunities. And the evaluation of Kata-improvement actions is also displayed on the board: “what did we learn from this experiment?”
  5. Open and Transparent culture. Teams have nothing to hide from each other, from the management or from visitors. All results, good or bad, are displayed with pride. Good results as successes, bad results as learning opportunities.

If you are familiar with the use of team boards in production or assembly plants, as is explained in detail on www.lean.org, these benefits won’t be surprising. The question remains, however, why there are still lean teams in Financial Services that haven’t adopted this best-practice.

More information on Super7 Operations can be found in my book: Super7 Operations – the Next Step for Lean in Financial Services.

My book explains the theory of Super7 Operations in detail as well as giving practical guides for implementation of Super7 Operations in the detailed case studies. You’ll get valuable tips and tricks for implementing Super7 in your own organization, from the people that have done it before you.

Menno R. van Dijk.