Kanban – Core Concepts and Practices

Kanban Core Concepts

  • Visualize work: items, process/ flow, policies
  • Limit work-in-progress (WIP), but don’t be too ambitious at first

Basic Kanban is a lightweight framework for change management.
Starting with the core concepts on top of your present process should meet little resistance, at least when coupled with focus on improving quality.

Btw, I talked at a lokal meetup earlier this year (slides here), mostly on the core concepts – why they work and how to start.

A few Kanban Practices

  • Flow; encourage, cultivate, transform towards
  • Classes of Service (CoS); visualize and track different types of work, with different demands on them
  • Gradually limit WIP to improve flow and to uncover your next improvement opportunity
  • Cadence; regular rythm of things like backlog replenishment and deployment, separate from development
  • Metrics; to manage flow over time
  • Pull; instead of mostly work with deadlines
  • Slack, swarming – doing it consciously

There’s more, but this illustrates the relation between the core concepts and a set of recommended practices.

You’re likely to start with a simple version of some practices, f.ex. the work types (CoS) critical items, work with deadlines, bugs. More practices can be utilized as your organization matures, and more sofisticated use of practices, like setting different target lead times for different CoS, f.ex. 50% of bugs should be fixed within a week.

Update after “conversation” with @pawelbrodzinski:

Buy-in from management and whole organization is preferable, but team buy-in is enough and necessary, in my opinion.

I think it’s important to just get started, improving step by step, and team buy-in and the Core Concepts are enough to do that.

Extracting a Personal Kanban from an Overgrown ToDo List

Last week I looked at my overgrown todo list, or rather several lists, and preparation for a demo at work was coming up, and I have a long trip to prepare for… So I simply had to create a personal kanban on the cupboard behind me:   Collaboration on the demo preparation led to tasks on the board, and I took the most important and urgent tasks from my todo lists onto the board. I used a form of priority filter, with a generic todo column to the left, then a “soon”/today column, then the usual doing and done columns. It worked really well to let tasks float up and to the right in the todo columns, kind of like bubbles. I got an immediate impression of relative urgency (more to the right) and relative importance (upwards), making it very easy to decide what the next task should be when I finished a task.