Information Radiator–Element #2 of the Kanban

Jim BensonPrimers5 Comments

A Personal Kanban, perhaps more than anything, is an information radiator – a passive device that sits there and broadcasts, endlessly and without judgment, whatever information is on it. I am doing a good job, I am behind, my team is passionate, my team is melancholy, our quality is great, we have  a quality problem, we’re on time, we are late … it’s all there – radiating from the Personal Kanban. The visual control provides status information in real-time, allowing real conversations about work to happen based on real-time data.

Normally, our status reports come from memos, graphics, or other snapshots that are out-of-date before they are distributed. They can also come from daily, weekly, or ad hoc status meetings, where people gather to report on the actions of themselves or others verbally. These mechanisms directly rely on people’s individual interpretations of events, status, and impacts. They also rely on listeners who will hear above, beyond, or around the politics.

Where does “politics” come from anyway? Why would we waste our time when things are so “obvious”?

Well, it’s because we humans build a definition of the world and then find ways to support that definition.

There was a psychological study that had two rooms of participants. One room was filled with people who identified as Right-to-Life. The other room was filled with people who identified as pro-Choice. Researchers gave both rooms the exact same information about birth and abortion statistics from the prior year. Both groups interpreted that information as supporting their cause.

The same data, completely different political interpretations.  Things were quite “obvious” to the people in both rooms.

Information always begins neutral. We humans like to get excited about things, so we interpret information accordingly.

In this case researchers were looking for proof of something called  ‘Confirmation Bias” – an extremely common cognitive bias where we interpret incoming information in a way that confirms our world-view.

We are under the influence of many such interpretive biases.

The Personal Kanban seeks to be an amoral or a-rational actor. Not rational or irrational.  Not subscribing to any particular morality. It is an impartial agent reporting the status of things.

We then, as individuals or groups, can interpret that information together.

Jim BensonInformation Radiator–Element #2 of the Kanban

5 Comments on “Information Radiator–Element #2 of the Kanban”

  1. Ape

    It’s really hard to defending against ideas like “The techs are lazy” when there isn’t a central status to look at. If we had something like this set up in our office. I could easily point out how much work we are getting done and show that the backlog is not due to laziness, but due to massive context changing and too many things on our plate.

    I can’t even begin to illustrate the issue unless everyone is on the same page.

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  3. Julie

    You say:”In this case researchers were looking for proof of something called ‘Confirmation Bias” – an extremely common cognitive bias where we interpret incoming information in a way that confirms our world-view.

    We are under the influence of many such interpretive biases”
    Please explain why our world-view is seen as a negative? Why are our biases, which may be well or solidly formed through much experience, considered a negative?
    I look forward to your insight!

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