Back to Basics with Kanban

Posted on October 11, 2010 by admin

About 18 months ago, over on the Kanbandev Yahoo! group, Karl Scotland and I posted our independent thoughts on what we thought was the minimum requirements for implementing the Kanban approach. We agreed 100%

  1. Visualize the workflow
  2. Limit Work-in-progress
  3. A capability at configuration management to enable iterationless devlopment / decoupled cadences

Later Henrik Kniberg published his definition of Kanban that later appeared in the Scrum and Kanban book

  1. Visualize the workflow
  2. Limit Work-in-progress
  3. Measure and Optimize Flow

While writing my manuscript, I thought harder about this and expanded the list to include all the common attributes of the successful implementations around the world that I knew of at the time of writing. The following list appears in chapter 2 of my book.

  1. Visualize the workflow
  2. Limit Work-in-progress
  3. Measure and Manage Flow
  4. Make Process Policies Explicit
  5. Use Models to Suggest Improvement Opportunities

This list of 5 core practices used in organizations with successful Kanban implementations gives us a definition for how to implement the Kanban Method. These practices represent the seed conditions in any organization that may enable a successful Kanban-based change initiative.

Nowhere on this list is a process definition for managing projects or developing software. The Kanban Method is not a software development or project management methodology.

When we talk about Kanban, we need to keep the basics in mind. Whenever you find yourself talking about or posting on Kanban, can you show how usage of the term relates to these 5 basic principles?