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STATIK Process: The Lean Kanban Path to Jump Start Agile in HR

STATIK Process: The Lean Kanban Path to Jump Start Agile in HR
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As part of an agile transformation, the inclusion of HR (although I prefer that it be named People Department) is crucial. As the center for recruiting, hiring, and growing your people, if HR isn’t on board with the transformation, your likelihood of improving… dips.


True agile transformation is not a shift in development processes, tools and mindset – it is a PEOPLE TRANSFORMATION. Currently, HR and transformation leaders have few resources available to help navigate this important aspect of an organization’s evolution, this track will provide valuable guidance for those responsible for aligning talent management to enable an agile organization.

– NADIA RIVERO, DIRECTOR ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, AMERICAN EXPRESS


We need to rethink the way that we recruit, hire, and facilitate the growth of our people and teams. We need to focus on people’s capabilities rather than on their positions, titles, or level in some hierarchy. We need to link authority to the people doing the work rather on some central boss figure. We need to determine how to attract and retain the people who will help our organization be the best that it can be.

One way to figure out how to do this is to use STATIK from Lean Kanban.

While our infographic specifically applies STATIK to the recruiting process, it can be applied to any process. For purposes of this article though, I’ll explain the steps of STATIK and then how it can be applied to recruiting, customer service, service request management, or any other workflow within the organization. It’s all about flow of work and managing that work.

What is STATIK?

STATIK is a technique that is part of Lean Kanban: a method for defining, managing, and improving services that deliver knowledge work, such as professional services, creative endeavors, and the design of both physical and software products.

STATIK is based on Lean Kanban principles, which are rooted in Change Management and Service Delivery:

  • Start with what you do now, understanding your current process and respecting current roles
  • Gain agreement to pursue improvement through evolutionary change
  • Encourage leadership at all levels.
  • Understand and focus on customer needs and expectations
  • Manage the Work, let people self-organize around it
  • Evolve policies to improve outcomes

Let’s begin with a simple explanation of systems thinking. Systems Thinking is a way of understanding how a system behaves as a whole rather than through analysis of component parts in isolation.

Take a simple example from my life right now: my right hand aches a lot. So, I take some aspirin and the aching goes away for a while. If you think about my situation in a simple way (without systems thinking), you could conclude that my hand just needs the acetylsalicylic acid in the aspirin. But because my body is a complex system, there are many things that could cause my aching hand. The acetylsalicylic acid just masks my symptoms.

If you continue with simple thinking, you might conclude that my hand is just lacking acetylsalicylic acid. But that’s just not the case, and I could probably hurt myself by taking too much of the aspirin and end up causing other problems. I’m not really addressing the real problem of the ache in my hand, which could be arthritis, ‘trigger-finger’, or some other ailment that needs to be analyzed before a conclusion is drawn.

Systems Thinking should really be applied to just about every problem or process within your organization because an organization is like a human body: it’s complex; it’s not simple. If we try to solve the problem simply, like I might do with the aspirin for my hand, we could actually just be making it worse. And, if we look at processes in silos, we can actually be slowing that work down.

STATIK stands for Systems Thinking Approach to Introducing Kanban. It’s a great analytical technique to help set up our work for success and value delivery. I’ll take you through the steps of building out work systems using STATIK.

The 8 Steps of the STATIK Process

Step 1: Understand Your Customer and Your “Why”

Who is the customer? For whom are you doing your work? Why do you do it? What value are you trying to give to the customer? If you look at our infographic, you see a few potential customers within the recruiting process. Is it the candidate? Is it the recruiter? Is it the hiring manager? Is it your organization? It’s all of them.

The “why” is: what are you trying to help the customer with, solve for them, or delight them with? What value do you bring to your customer?

Step 2: Understand the Sources of Dissatisfaction

Where are the problems in your process? One of the best ways to understand this is to ASK. What do your customers complain about (problems in our process)? What are the root causes of those problems? Dig deep using root cause analysis (asking a lot of ‘whys’) to discover the causes. The 5 Whys is a great technique. This will help you understand the need for a change in your process.

Some complaints in the recruiting process might be:

  • The candidate has to wait a long time to hear if they have been selected or not. Why? What in our process causes delays? Where are the bottlenecks?
  • The hiring manager is frustrated they feel that the recruiter doesn’t understand their needs or urgency. Why not?

Check out my co-worker Pablo’s Sources of Dissatisfaction: What’s wrong with your recruiting process? article for an in-depth list of sources of dissatisfaction with in HR roles, including Recruitment Team, Human Resources Business Partners (HRBPs), Business or Hiring Team, and the actual Candidates.  

Step 3: Analyze the Demand for Work

You need to understand how work comes to you. Where does the work originate (from whom)? How does it arrive (email, formal request, casual conversation)? What are you asked to do (what’s the deliverable)?

For recruiting, an example of one source of work is the hiring manager who puts in a formal request to fill a position via a workflow application.

Step 4: Analyze the Current Delivery Capability

Now look at how you currently deliver completed work. What do you deliver? How do you deliver it? To whom do you deliver it? Some other questions you can ask yourself at this point:

  • How do you characterize the quality of your service?
  • What is your lead time for requests?
  • How predictable or variable is your service delivery?
  • What is the gap between the current capability and expectations?

Step 5: Model the Current Service Delivery Flow

Look at the current steps you take to deliver completed work. What are the major tasks? Can you categorize those tasks in stages or phases? You are looking for a breakdown in the work so that you can set yourselves up better for success. Focus on the activities, not who is doing the work.

In the following example, I identified the steps we take at Netmind to build a new training course. We ‘bucketed’ the steps into three phases: Analyze, Design, and Create.

Step 6: Identify and Define the Classes of Service

Identifying Classes of Service helps us understand the urgency of the work you are asked to do. Are there times when you need to expedite requests? Are there items that are ‘no hurry, whenever you have time’? Do you have service level agreements that you must fulfill? Do you need a different class for risky items?

Step 7: Define the Kanban System

Now that you understand these things:

  • What work you do
  • Who asks for it
  • How they ask
  • How you complete the work
  • The different levels of urgency of the work
  • What you deliver and to whom
  • How you deliver

Now, you can design a pull system using Kanban that will allow you to better manage the work and collaborate as a team better. A pull system, put simply, is a way to optimize the workflow so you can respond more quickly and predictably to demand. It helps to not ‘dump work’ on your coworkers. Design it such that you visualize the work, limit the amount of work going on at one time, measure the time it takes to get work done, all so that you can get items from Ready to Done. Then pull new work in as you have open capacity. You may have heard of GSD: Get Stuff Done. This is the goal!

Step 8: Socialize the Design and Negotiate Implementation

It’s time to put our Kanban into action! This step is really about how to get started implementing the system in your organization. Be sure to keep the Lean Kanban Principles that I mentioned earlier in mind.

Roll out the Kanban and see what effects it has. Are you communicating what’s happening within your work better? Are you delivering better, faster, and with more quality? Are your customers happier? Analyze the results regularly to see what you can do to improve the system. Do you still have bottlenecks? How can you reduce or even eliminate them? How can you continuously improve?

The Benefits of the STATIK Process

This 8-step process doesn’t necessarily have to be done in order, nor does it need to take days, months, or years. I’ve helped teams build out their system in a matter of a few hours. Build it, tweak it, and keep improving it.

Download our infographic and use it as a guide to help develop your Recruitment Kanban, or a Kanban for any other process.

What you may find (and what I hope you find) is that making your work visible, controlling the work in progress, and understanding the flow of work enables greater transparency, better metrics, a focus on how to more effectively manage the work. And better-managed work results in not only happier workers, but happier customers as well!

Thank you 🙂

— Ali

Get More on Lean Kanban

The STATIK process is just one tool from Lean Kanban. Get the full toolbox in our Lean Kanban certification courses.

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About the Author

Ali Cox

Ali Cox

Alison (Ali) Cox, Netmind Senior Instructor and General Manager, has experience since the mid-1980s in various areas, including business analysis, project methodology development and training, systems development (mainframe, client-server, and web), and telecommunications management. Alison began her career in the financial services area, and then moved into systems development for accounting systems. She has provided consulting and training in business analysis and project management for small companies to Fortune 500 corporations worldwide and speaks Spanish fluently. Alison is also a partner of TEMSS (Telecommunications Efficiency Management Strategies and Services), which provides telecommunications efficiency auditing and billing analysis services to clients in all areas of business across the United States. She completed her Master of Business Administration in MIS and Accounting from the University of Georgia. Connect with Ali on LinkedIn.

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