Kanban Systems

I love a good system.  My favorite type of system is  Kanban.  And my favorite tool for a Kanban system is LeanKit.  My teams have used this tool and I’ve used the free version to plan personal projects.

Kanban is a system for visualizing work, making it flow, reducing waste and maximizing value.  In Japanese it means billboard.

The point of a Kanban system is to visualize the work, both project and operational.  Promote team autonomy, defeat micro-management and limit the work in process (WIP) and switch tasking to get higher output.   If this is followed the bottlenecks in the work will naturally become apparent.  Once the bottlenecks are identified, they can be addressed.

A great way to use a Kanban system is with teams who have work that contributes to the completion of a project.  One of the best parts of the Kanban system is to have daily stand-ups to review the work load, but you can also do this with yourself and establish a daily routine to review the work.

There’re a few ways to doom a Kanban system with a team:

  • Stop having stand-ups. Daily is best.  You may say, “but I am too busy,” maybe, ask yourself if you are busy doing the right work – the answer may surprise you.
  • Take items offline.  Have the discussion during the stand-up, with everyone present.  In my experience, you would be amazed how feedback from others can help solve problems.
  • Allow negativity. Just don’t.  Negativity drains everyone involved.  According to this source, negativity costs the workplace around $3 billion in lost productivity.
  • Allow some people to not attend. Make attendance mandatory.  Period.  Everyone will miss occasionally, but do not let it become a regular occurrence.
  • Being Late. I have never understood why some people will wait to start a meeting for those to join late.  It punishes those who arrive on time.   Become someone who starts meetings on time, every time.
  • Expect perfection in estimations. They are estimates, not perfection.  Estimate and move on.
  • Allowing work to happen outside of the Kanban board. Work should be in the Kanban system or whatever system you are using to track work.  If it is not there, it did not happen.




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