Archive for May, 2010

David Anderson’s Kanban Book

For those interested in Kanban and still reading those actual things you hold in your hands and spend several hours on, David Anderson’s new Kanban book is out there…

As David provided Agilesparks with the draft manuscript to help us prepare for a Kanban Coaching Workshop we had with him back in February,  I was able to read it early and provide the first review :

David provides a comprehensive guide to implementing Kanban in a software development/maintenance environment.
Covering the mechanics, dynamics, principles and rationale behind why Kanban is a so promising framework for managing the work of a variety of teams and groups and being an evolutionary-based change management driver.

Kanban is the practical approach to implement Lean Software Development, and this book is the practical guide for how to start using Kanban, and how to adapt the system for advanced needs.

The book is clear and flowing, even though it covers some quite technical material. I would recommend it to Development managers, Project/Program managers, Agile Coaches/Consultants. It addresses concerns/needs of Novice as well as those already familiar with Kanban and looking for advanced answers.

Even if you don’t intend to implement a kanban system, there are a lot of techniques and ideas that are easily applicable to any product development/maintenance environment, agile or not.

Bottom line, highly recommended.
Beyond that, I believe the champion of any Kanban initiative in the software world (and probably in services as well) should read this book, an am taking the steps to make that happen at least in Kanban initiatives I’m involved in 😉
David asked me some time ago whether it makes sense to think of translating the book to Hebrew and I told him that those in the Israeli IT world that find the time/energy to read, are quite proficient doing it in English, and that probably the market is not large enough to warrant it.

It might be worth though to translate a basic explanation of Kanban to hebrew… maybe something from kanban101.com

Anyhow – recommended book, go ahead and order a copy, you won’t regret it.

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Using Kanban to drive Continuous Improvement and Management Teams

It seems like new uses for Kanban are cropping up every day. And the interesting thing is that in some cases, several different organizations/people come up with similar ideas spontaneously.

One of those ideas is to use Kanban in order to drive Continuous Improvement efforts.
I’ve recently described such an approach in my presentation for Lean Conference 2010 in Atlanta (#LSSC10), it also came up in other talks and others seem to be having great success using this (E.g. . In Israel I saw it come up in Kanban workshops we hold for clients, as well as some ideas that clients have after they start using Kanban for other things. It w

Think of mgmt teams at the organization level, or for any group (e.g. VP R&D and his staff members, CEO and the other CXOs/VPs, Group leader with his team leads).

We want this team to lead Continuous Improvement initiatives in their organization. Both at the aggregate level collating and coordinating efforts the various teams they’re in charge of, as well as initiatives that originate and are focused at their level.

Who hasn’t seen the lessons learned exercise which was great, but when you come some time later, the action items are at best documented, lets not even talk about tracked and executed.

Same goes for Agile Retrospectives, even though the frequency of the retrospectives improves the situation a bit and nags the team some more…

Enter Kanban. Now, really, you don’t need anything fancy. We mainly are talking about creating a backlog of action items. Prioritizing it. And choosing a FEW action items for execution each time. Until you are finished with those, don’t divert or context switch to any other initiative. This is where the Kanban WIP Limit comes into play…

This of course can be used for ANY kind of action item for the management team.

Again, you don’t have to do it with Kanban. A shared action item list you check items off as you go can work just as well. I used Sharepoint, a whiteboard, and other ways to achieve that. With Kanban you get the added benefit of the WIP limits. From my experience, management teams and other sorts of committees, are quite horrible at focusing and managing their WIP, so Kanban can really help.

In addition, if your organization is currently undergoing a Lean/Agile transition, adopting a Kanban board can help you lead by example and show that you are adopting Lean/Agile methods. It will also help you understand what is happening at the production floor, and adopt the language being used by the organization.

That is why, with our customers over at Agilesparks we are starting to use Kanban boards to drive Agile Transitions, and recommend to the team managing the transition to adopt his board and style for their own use.

Other elements of Lean that can help here are A3 and PDM.

A3 (see http://www.crisp.se/lean/a3-template) is problem-solving tool originating in Toyota. Its beauty is that it drives you to be concise and focused. Each A3 describes a problem and what you are trying to do about it, in essence bodying the PDCA Plan Do Check Act cycle.

PDM – The Hoshin Kanri Policy Deployment Matrix (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoshin_Kanri) is another way to practically use the PDCA cycle. I’ll try to describe it in more depth some other time…

I don’t promise to post here often. With my over-WIP I barely find time to tweet (over at http://twitter.com/yuvalyeret) …

In the meantime – what are YOU thinking of doing with Kanban? let me know…

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