Saturday, July 19, 2014

Kanban - Love It. Why?

I have been working on Kanban lately.

 I love the Lean ideas.  There is so much there we still need to understand better and do.  And, interestingly, the ideas are counter-intuitive to most people, and yet obviously simple and powerful when you actually take some time to do them.

The one sentence version (hugely over-simplified): For most people, I would recommend Scrum-Kanban, as where they want to get to.  Or, maybe better to say: Lean-Agile-Scrum.

But let's stick to a smaller topic today.

One of the great things about Kanban is that you can do it for so many reasons.  I started to make a list of them all.  Here is what I came up with:
  1. Maximize business value to the customer
  2. No more death marches
  3. Eliminate burnout
  4. Faster delivery (shorter lead times)
  5. Higher quality
  6. Lower cost
  7. Easy to implement
  8. Manage things in our control
  9. Start to see what is going on - at least…
  10. Scrum is not working, so then what?
  11. A way to get minimal control, a place to start
  12. So we can disconnect from the business side (we have no PO)
  13. Start finishing! (Stop just starting)
  14. Minimize WIP (for all of its benefits)
  15. Allocate people to work
  16. Fix the biggest constraint
  17. Measure lead times
  18. Adapt to changing work items faster
  19. So the process is minimal (we get to have almost no ‘process’)
  20. So that the process does not get in the way, and can be adapted to our specific situation
  21. To enable team learning
  22. Gain some slack in the system
  23. Get space (slack) to make improvements (Kaizen)
  24. Build trust through frequent more frequent releases

I stole some of these ideas from Henrik Kniberg, Mattias Skarin, and David Anderson.

Only one of those goals do I not like.  #12, which is in italics.  It might actually be necessary in a few real cases, but still I do not like the idea. But, I do think people use Kanban to do that.  There is a second phrase, also in italics, that I worry about. A process should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.  Put another way, the tool(s) must be big enough for the job.  Some people who use Kanban do not add enough to it, IMO.  So that the 'process' is too simple to be professional for their situation.  Again, IMO.     -- Just to make clear...with my personality type and other characteristics, I generally dislike 'process.'

Also, Kanban, like anything else, is not a silver bullet.  It cannot 'give' you these results.  But it can help, and indeed help a lot if you and the group are skilled, hard-working, professional, etc.

More on Kanban later.  A wonderful subject.  

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