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The Innovation Process
Activity C

Utilise agile management methods

This activity will help you establish the basis for a successful pilot, develop a theory of change and ways to identify and test assumptions, and manage tasks in an agile way.


Kanban is a team task management tool that can provide an agile, transparent and effective way of planning and executing the implementation of your pilot. Traditional projects often ‘push’ activities to those who are implementing them, causing problems as people become overloaded. Kan Ban is a ‘pull’ process that allows you to map out the work of the team, and then enable each team member to ‘pull’ work through.

This approach enables a clear view of all the work the team is doing, and makes sure that there isn’t overloading or duplication, and that tasks are done on time. Kanban as a methodology originates from ‘lean manufacturing’ and was then adopted in software development. It is used on software projects in the humanitarian sector, but there is little evidence of it being used more widely than that at this current time. Kanban is designed to improve a number of areas of project performance. For innovation pilots, the three main areas are:

  • Visualisation: It provides all the team with a single view of how activities and tasks in a project are going
  • Limiting work-in-progress: It enables teams to reduce the amount of multi-tasking they are doing to increase efficiency.
  • Flow: Using a demand-led system ensures that those people implementing have control over the workflow.

Having a visual and demand-led system is far more user-centred design appropriate and enables quick and efficient project management. It can be a simple visual board such as the one below, where there are only three stages to the workflow – to do, doing, done. This can still cope with complexity by colour coding the cards for different categories (eg, workstreams, or by those responsible).