Young Writer | Nathan Furry: Take action on project management

I was recently asked about what sparked the creation of what I refer to as an ‘action board’ – which is a physical whiteboard that I use to remind myself and residents of the matters that I am personally tracking.

Nathan Furry

Nathan Furry

The first appearance of the ‘action board’ came about year ago as of this month, where a resident perusing the stalls at the fortnightly Murrumbateman Village Markets quipped that there was often a feeling that residents never fully understood the sheer volume of matters that are e-mailed, messaged and even mailed to councillors on a monthly basis.

Putting my thinking cap on and utilising the skills developed as a project manager within corporate IT, I decided to research extensively what could be used to improve residents’ understanding of the matters brought to my attention, but also allow another level of interactivity in how I keep track of all of these items.

Returning to today, and the ‘action board’ is now a conversation-starter for passing residents, tourists and stall-holders alike at the Murrumbateman Village Markets about the diverse scope of responsibilities council and councillors actually manage on a daily basis.

For the origin of the action board itself as a concept, many readers can actually consult the grille of their vehicles for inspiration.

The modern origins of Kanban as a methodology come from work conducted by Taiichi Ohno, who was an engineer at Toyota Motor Corporation in the 1940s.

Looking for ways to reduce the occurrence of defective components in their production process, Ohno spent much of his time conducting research in supermarkets, where customers expect on-demand delivery.

Fast-forwarding 50 years, project managers and software developers looked towards heavy industrial corporations and diverse industries as avenues where innovation and proven process management could be identified and adapted to the booming software development industry in the 1990s.

Today, elements of the original Kanban methodology can still be seen within project management methodology, where agile project management utilises daily stand-up meetings (otherwise known as a scrum). Within this meeting, there is a whiteboard or similar electronic board used to allow the ‘Scrum Master’ (ordinarily the lead project manager) to quickly overview the day’s tasks, including new tasks, progressing tasks and completed tasks.

Similar to the pioneers of Kanban within the motoring and project management worlds, it is important that within any role or profession, time is taken to consider the potential for all tools that may be available to continually improve within all aspects of our lives.

  • Nathan Furry is a Yass Valley councillor.
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