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Six Steps to Visual Work Management and Self-Empowered Teams

David Paulson- 04/12/19 11:40 AM

Self-empowered teams is a common goal for many companies. But most of the people we talk to feel it’s only a dream, or requires too much work to achieve. That’s too bad. Because like anything that seems difficult, it’s often quite easy if you know how to do it the right way. Fortunately, the dream of self-empowered teams is only six easy steps away and can be achieved in two weeks. Seriously, read on…

Six Steps to Visual Work Management

The primary key to success is a visual work management system. But they’re not all created equally, so here are the key ingredients and their benefits.

1. The bigger picture is visible

With a truly visible plan everyone can see the big picture, and how their work fits into the plan. When people can see how their tasks impact the success of the project, it’s no longer just a job that needs to get done today and their work suddenly becomes more meaningful.

2. The critical path is visible

When the plans have the right amount of detail, and the next milestones are identified, the critical path is visible. This is important because it allows us to separate the work that impacts the schedule from everything else. Not all of the work in a project has the same priority and this allows us to focus on the items that truly are “critical.”

3. The relative priority of the rest of the work is clear

Big projects can easily have hundreds of active tasks—things people could be working on if they had time. So it’s important that we sort this work into groups based on its relative priority. The good news is, this sorting is done automatically based on how the tasks feed into the critical path, and it updates automatically. So now everyone knows the relative priority of all the work that’s not on the critical path.

4. These benefits apply to all of your projects

Most companies have a project that is clearly the #1 priority. (Usually, it’s the one that’s the farthest behind schedule, right?) But what about projects two through ten? What’s the relative priority of that work? Fortunately, when all of the projects are in a visual work management tool, everyone who is on multiple projects can see what their most important tasks are each day, across all of their projects. And that reduces a lot of stress when trying to decide what to work on each day.

5. Pull your tasks from a backlog

Even though all of the work is identified in the form of a plan, that doesn’t mean the work is actually done in that exact order. It’s likely that every team member has several, or dozens, of tasks that they could chose from each day. That’s why it’s necessary for each person (or department) to have a backlog that sorts the tasks based on the relative priority of all their the work. This ensures that everyone always has the correct priority every time they start a new task.

6. Instant visibility of bottlenecks

When the critical path tasks are clearly identified, and everyone on the team knows who is working on them, it is now very easy to see when they’re blocked! This allows the team to support the people who have these tasks, and rally around the stalled work and get it going again before it impacts the schedule. Most people don’t realize that the biggest cause of late projects are the daily slips to the schedule that no one notices. These can easily add up over time and double the length of your project!

How do these steps create self-empowered teams?

When all of the work is visible, and all of the relative priorities are clear, and everyone on the team has correct priorities across all of their projects, and the blockages are instantly visible, the teams can easily make correct decisions on their own regarding what to do and when.

And having self empowered teams that can see the work creates several follow-on benefits…

  • The project end dates become predictable. (We know it sounds impossible, but you’ll also get done faster without working any harder.) 
  • It’s easier to respond to the changes.
  • Everyone feels well informed.


Don’t take our word for it. Here’s a quote from a VP during the retrospective at the end of their second week of their Free Trail...

“It’s a whole different management process and it’s really simple. That’s the beauty of it all—how simple it is. You have your tasks right in front of you every day and can talk about it. That’s much better than hallway conversations when you’re wondering what you should be doing.”

If you’d like to see this in action, watch Part Two of the demo video by clicking the link below, and then request your Free Trial and let us help you get the same experience in your second week!

Demo Part 2

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