Posted on November 05, 2011 by admin

By Dominica DeGrandis

In a twitter exchange of ideas about kanban board designs - primarily between Pawel Brodzinski and Jabe Bloom, concern was expressed that showing people other peoples’ designs can stifle creativity and cause harm.

Well, it depends. It depends upon the people, the project, the chemistry in the room, and other stuff.  People have different learning styles.  The creative people may want to start from scratch with their very own design.  But the “I’ll know it when I see it” people appreciate the opportunity to learn from others to avoid reinventing the wheel.

I have found that it can be very helpful to show people a variety of board designs and let them judge for themselves how a given design may or may not apply to their work.  People understand that these are just examples that have been uniquely tailored for someone else’s use and can be modified without limit. People take what they want and toss the rest.


Kanban’s board design system is a marvel of adaptability.  I show many board examples both from development and IT services, as well as from operations.  People understand that their ultimate designs are for them and for them alone. There is no standard. There is no best practice.  Nothing is cast in concrete. Their designs are meant to be re-designed as their work changes.

Kanban board designs should be uniquely tailored for the current process in use.  Board designs, in reality rarely stay the same.  They are more likely to change – perhaps even tomorrow, from someone seeing something from another board that looks promising.  Often, perhaps usually, it’s a big help to have a starting nudge from an example or two or ten kanban board designs.

Sometimes, the best ideas are stolen.