One of the things I really like about Lean is it has a build in management system. Managers play an active role in operations by pulling managers in if there is a flow problem . In this way, forcing them to update and revise their mental model of the real state.
In own kanban implementations, I typically expect managers to participate in problem solving for issues streching beyond team borders as a minimum requirement. (For really good managers mentioning this is always unnecessary, this is part of their DNA)
But today David Anderson said something that struck a cord in me.
"Managers are designing the system in which their people work".
"And what we want is to make people think consiously about the problems that needs be solved in their context, rather than blueprinting solutions."
That sounded completely right. A manager is responsible for designing the system in which people work and for the needs they face. And this cannot be traded away. Tools in this design is policies, WIP limits, training, hiring, degree of governance etc.
Thus it makes perfect sense for a system designed to create highly differenting products (game development) to look completely different to a system designed to deliver fairly predictable features to a mature markets (for example legislation compliance)
Bottom line: Designing the system is not a responsibility managers can trade away. Only improve.
This is going to me my take (until I find something better :). I encourage our kanban community can to debate this thought.