Modern Management Methods conference, LeanKanban NL 2013
People as Bottlenecks

, Senior Agile Coach

A bottleneck is any step in a process whose capacity is less than the demand placed upon it. Bottlenecks are unfortunately pretty common in services and in product development. They limit a system's output/outcome, they lead to all sort of dysfunctions: queues, multitasking, lost opportunities, etc. This all can turn into a self-reinforcing (negative) loop: bottlenecks that lead to dysfunctions that in turn lead to more/worse bottlenecks. In general bottlenecks should be removed. Now, from an organizational perspective bottlenecks can be both physical and non-physical: systems, equipment, processes, policies and… people. While we usually look at the system before blaming people, sometimes bottlenecks are indeed people. Should we just remove them or can we find other ways to address this issue? We'll look at how Kanban may help us to spot, understand and deal with this.