Sneak Peak at Modern Management Framework

Posted on August 30, 2014 by David Anderson

In China, "Kanban" simply means "looking at the board." For a Chinese audience, Kanban is encapsulated in the cartoon on the cover of my Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for your Technology Business. They don't need to look further than the characters standing in front of the board. Hence, to a Chinese mind, our management approach is centered around a standup meeting. All well and good and why not?

However, a senior executive at one of our clilents felt that this perception was likely to undermine the true value and the potential impact of our teachings on his business. So he suggested that we give the wider collection of ideas, intellectual property and teaching tools, a different name. It so happens I'd been thinking along similar lines and introducing terms and branding in our business to lay the foundation for this. So here it is, "The Modern Management Framework." This isn't new. It's the collection of our existing class curriculum and consulting tools but presented altogether in one place for the first time and under one banner.

The Modern Management FrameworkModern Management Framework - High Level

Our class material and consulting tools fall into 8 high level categories: Decision making; Evolutionary change; Business risk assessment; kanban boards; kanban systems; metrics; Achieving business agility at large scale (product unit 150 people, business unit 450-600 people, division 2000-6000 people); and process improvement. This serves to demonstrate the breath of the approach and to highlight that kanban boards are just a small part of it. This is even more evident in the detailed view.

Modern Management Framework - Detailed View

Modern Management Framework v1.1 Curriculum

The detailed view shows that kanban boards are just a tiny part of what is required to really manage a modern business "the Kanban way". It also highlights that a large part of our curriculum is focused on kanban systems. I'll be using this framework to accurately map the scope of the curriculum for all of our training classes from Foundation level, "Getting Started with Kanban" through our Advanced Practitioner level classes to the Kanban Coaching Professional Masterclass. Altogether there is more than 10 days of class material contained in the framework.

Why "Framework"?

I always resisted attempts in the community  to refer to Kanban as a "framework". The Kanban Method is so named because I consider it to be "closed" the Gestalt sense that I consider it complete. It does not need to be extended or augmented. Nor do I expect it to evolve much. The general practices in the Kanban Method are defined at an abstract level and specific practices are selected at different levels of scale. The definition of the Kanban Method has stood up to rigorous examination over the past five years, so I am comfortable it is sufficiently complete as to be a "method" and not a "framework."

However, this bigger collection of ideas, concepts, practices and techniques, is something we do expect to evolve and to be continually extended. Hence, "framework" is the correct designation.

Why "Modern"?

As with the branding of our Lean Kanban conferences, "Modern Management Methods," the term "modern" has a specific meaning in liberal arts. It means that the form of something has changed due to a discontinuous innovation. Modern Art emerged after photography made representational art largely redundant. Modern music emerged after electronic instruments capable of synthesizing sounds emerged in between the late 1950's and early 1980's. There were arguably two or more waves of modern music as first analog devices were later replaced by digital devices and then digital devices capable of sampling and manipulating existing sounds. Modern implies that a technology changed the form. I would argue that our Modern Management Framework relies on several technologies that enable a changed form of management. At one level, the humble sticky note is a technolgy that enables us to see formerly invisible knowledge work. This changes the form of how we manage from focusing on people to focusing on service delivery for customers. Additional technologies such as software tracking tools and statistical analytics tools further enable new forms of management. It becomes economically practical to employ probabilistic methods on a daily basis. Tools such as Swift Kanban and Leankit commoditize and democratize probabilistic forecasting in the way that the assembly line and the Model-T Ford democratcized automobile ownership and enabled a whole new means of suburban living, a century earlier.

So the filter for "modern" that determines whether something makes it into the framework or not will be to look to see if a technology enables a new form of the art, science and practice of management. If so it deserves to included.


The Modern Management Framework is the future for Lean Kanban training and our class curriculum. The Modern Management Framework will become the umbrella for our consulting "playbook". Expect all of our communications about intellectual property and management ideas to framed as part of it going forward. Over the next few weeks, I'll be releasing the curriculum mappings for seven training classes, three of which are new.