Kanban – the book

I have quite recently had the pleasure of reading David Anderson’s latest book on Kanban. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of Kanban before I started reading it. However, I still had some unanswered questions – some – which for a while might have reduced my confidence in persuading my peers to just try it. After reading the book I got most of my questions answered, and at the time of writing we are just starting to experiment with a little bit of Kanban on my current project. Happy days!

Whether you know nothing about Kanban or consider yourself fairly well educated on the topic I think the book is definitely worth reading. Instead of giving a full summary of the book, I thought I should give you some of the answers to the questions I got answered from reading the book (as I understood it, although I might also be a bit influenced by other sources):

  • How do you really get started? Take your current process, visualize it (on a board) and apply WIP limits. Try measuring lead time, and maybe create a cumulative flow diagram. For longer term success, you should get some buy-in / agreement from up- and downstream stakeholders though.
  • What is some of the major selling points? Create a predictable performing team. Reduce lead time. Optimize throughput. Expose bottlenecks.
  • How do you deal with blocked stories? Kanban should force the team to swarm on a blocked story, with the result of resolving it. It might need to be escalated, but then again a manager should see the importance of helping to resolve the issue.
  • When do you release, plan, ..? Kanban allows you to decouple input cycles from output cycles. That is, you could release every Monday if you want, but perhaps only have meetings to fill up the input queue every two weeks. You could have a retrospective every third Friday if you want. Or you could even trigger these events on an as needed basis.
  • How do you become predictable when stories might vary in size, priority ..? Classes of Service! For example: a ‘standard story’ will be finished in 14 days on average. ‘Expedite stories’ will be finished in 10 days on average, but you are only allowed to have one expedite story in play at any one time and so forth. David describes other interesting examples of Classes of Service as well, I highly recommend you to read this.

I think I should stop here and leave someting for you to read as well 😀


One Response to “Kanban – the book”

  1. Kjartanj Says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’ll read it too, hoping it also works well on a more basic level. I heard David Anderson’s talk at XP2010, inspiring. The idea that implementing WIP-limits makes the company/development process more lean over time, seemed so simple, yet powerful. As I understood, rather than trying to implement everything lean, one could start with limited WIP and the results would come.

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