Themed Kanban Tables

This is just to begin some of the explanation around this idea, and we don’t expect it will make 100% sense as yet. We’re going to look at creating what we’re calling (working title!) Themed Kanban Tables.

A – Awareness (of issue/opportunity) 

There’s a need to allow particular items to be prioritised, and for ideas to be looked at in parallel.

B – Baseline (situation today)

This is as a result of the onstreet dumping Beta Project macro. As we began to explore it, we realised that it needed an overall structure under which a whole series of mini-Beta Projects would sit. We then realised that it could also be a good approach for many other items also.

We see three aspects which need addressing:

  1. The need to still allow the smaller ideas and projects to have a chance of being explored and trialled whilst still continuing to look at the really ‘big ticket’ Beta Projects.
  2. And the opposite…The need to be able to explore the ‘big ticket’ Beta Projects in a consistent way (such as the onstreet dumping project) and keeping them from being interfered with by other smaller Beta Projects. They’re complex and so need a lot of focus. They’re also likely to be solved by a whole series of mini Beta Projects. How best manage that?
  3. Certain Beta Projects micro (such as introducing/improving cycle lanes for example) would probably best work in a series of standard pre-defined steps. How to best manage multiple projects, with multiple steps to each one?

C – Create (vision and/or solutions)

[Updated due to Antoins useful comment below.]

We are going to trial what we’re calling ‘Themed Kanban Tables’. We think (but won’t really know until we use them a few times in different ways) that they’ll be used in two ways.

  1. Certain prioritised projects.
  2. A way to clearly show the steps within a particular Beta Project.

D – Decide (on priorities)

[Updated due to Antoins useful comment below.]

Perhaps we might be able to prioritise 3 projects (we’ll have to see how the workload works out).

As of 18/11/13, we expect that these might be the ones to prioritise.

    1. Prioritised (Beta Projects micro mechanism)
    2. Prioritised (Neighbourhood Champions)
    3. Prioritised (Onstreet Dumping)

E – Effect and Evolve

We will update this section as we begin to add the above to the blog, and we’re also going to note that the above will (most likely) only make limited sense until we’re able to present some real-life examples…and please bear with us on those! 🙂

F – Formalise 

Not applicable.

Any questions or suggestions…please shout out below! 


About Dublin City Council beta

Dublin City Council are trying a new method called DCC Beta Projects...your input, then quick trials 'on the street', then your feedback! We'd LOVE your help!
This entry was posted in 1. Identity, Communication & Ownership, General Thoughts & Future Betas, Shane, Strategy. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Themed Kanban Tables

  1. John conroy says:

    Is this becoming complicated and as difficult as any other system or art project?

  2. I would think more about the city dwellers and their view of things when coming up with a system. I don’t necessarily think the tag ‘environmental’ makes sense for example. Rubbish dumped in my local area is certainly an ‘environmental’ issue but it’s not in the same sense that an incinerator or a landfill site, or the general issue of waste management could be said to be an environmental issue. This ‘macro’ sense is what regular people mean when they refer to an environmental issue, not stuff in their neighbourhood.

    To explain more: there is a street close to my home where there is regular illegal dumping. For me, and even for the people who live on the actual street it is not an ‘environmental’ issue. It is more like a walking and resting issue. It disturbs their journeys when they see it and have to move around it. Of course, for people with kids on the street, it is very much a child welfare issue. I suppose some cyclists see it as a straight-up safety issue. It is an issue for that local community, for sure. And obviously it is an ‘environmental’ issue in a very broad sense. But most of all it is an issue related to that one particular street.

    • Hi Antoin, all of Beta is precisely from that viewpoint.

      Your example is a mix of the first three themes…ownership (a lack of), environmental, and moving/resting (as you describe)…so it would be prioritised highly.

      What you say though makes us think though. The reason that we try to ‘weight’ as opposed to what many other schemes do which is ‘themes’, is precisely the issue that you describe. So you might be right. Perhaps it should simply be 1, 2 or 3 prioritised projects – as opposed to prioritised under a particular silo-ing theme. Good point…we may need to change it…just not tonight. 🙂

    • Hi Antoin, now updated. Better you think?

      • I like that better.

        I do think that maybe John has a point. There is a lot of ‘process’ building up. Is this a good idea? It is not an explicit goal of Beta to cut down the process, I accept, but it is implicit, in my view. I say that because Beta is supposed to be about experimenting and I presume that means doing things that other parts of DCC aren’t doing. But the thing about DCC is it’s so process driven. There is a process for street licences, a process for PP, area plans and all the rest. And that’s all great and people doing that stuff are doing an ok job. But sometimes you have to break away from the process and concentrate on the substance. This is particularly the case with small projects and budgets. If you have too much process, you will just absorb the budget and kill the whole thing before it gets started. So I would really consider simplifying things and prioritise based on some sort of ‘impact’ scoring.

      • We will reply to the points in this and your comment on the Metrics blog when have a bit more time, but meanwhile could you give an example of your impact scoring suggestion?

  3. Alright, some background needed here. The key thing for dublinbeta (my opinion) is to do something that makes some sort of difference. You need something that makes an ‘impact’ in that context. It isn’t necessarily that it will have a massive positive cash/productivity difference (which is why I don’t say cash-flow or NPV type scoring). But it might make some people’s lives easier or better in a way that is real but not easily measurable. Or it might point the way for a change in the way DCC does things in a very real, tangible way – the impact might be mainly internal, as a demonstration of what is possible to your boss or the council or the city manager or whatever.

    So I would say that ‘impact’ is a clearly tangible benefit, but not necessarily a cash benefit.

    The one thing that you need to avoid is doing projects that have little or no impact, that hardly anybody even notices happened, that make no real difference for the future.

    It sounds obvious to say that a project should have ‘impact’. But in practice, this is very difficult for you, when you are dealing with quite small projects, in the context of an organisation with a budget of EUR800m and a 70 billion euros economy.

    How do you measure? Well, there are papers out there from OECD and WB about measuring ‘impact’ but mainly relate to much bigger projects. It is very subjective and ‘impact’ can be indirect – if you do a project that succeeds in convincing the city manager that mega-plan X is a great idea and that he should try to raise fifty million to implement it that is a big impact even though you have only really had an impact on one person. But maybe the following is what you might look at:

    A. How many people will this project impact?

    B. How often will it impact them over the project period on average. Multiply A x B to get ‘total number of impacts’.

    C. How big a difference will each impact make to each individual’s life on average? Try to quantify it in terms of productivity improvement (internal to council), money saving (for city dweller or business), time saving, safety improvement, etc. This might be expressed partly in objective things like money and time and partly in some more subjective terms like ‘street looks clean when dweller comes out in the morning’.

    Multiply A x B x C to get some measure of the immediate project impact.

    D. Consider how many people could the project benefit if scaled up fully? So we do a project in an area with 500 inhabitants to sort out illegal dumping. But there are 50,000 people living in areas with similar problems. So if we can sort this problem out in this particular small area, it will be like a signpost which will guide us to solve problems for 50,000 people.

    E. How does the project scale? If the project’s concept can scale linearly (double expenditure to double impact) then give it a 1. If less than linearly, then less than 1, if more than linearly, give it less than 1, reflecting how its roll-out might scale.

    Now A x B x C x D x E is a measure of impact taking into account scalability. Now compare the result of this for each possible project and see what makes sense. You would also look at the initial project cost at this stage.

    This sounds a bit bureaucratic, I’m sure, but it isn’t meant to be process paralysis. I’m just suggesting the factors I might take into account if I happened to be doing it, and how I would broadly order them to explain my choices. I’m sure you have your own areas and priorities in mind.

    Happy to help more if I can.

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