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Kanban 101 - A Primer

If you are getting started with Kanban, here is a primer you can use to teach the basics. Contact me via @everydaykanban on twitter or through my blog at everydaykanban.com.

Julia Wester

on 6 July 2016

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Transcript of Kanban 101 - A Primer

Foundational Principles
Metrics and charts
Core Practices

Myths about

Visualize your workflow
Limit your WIP
Manage Flow
Make process & policies
Improve Collaboratively
using the models and the scientific method
Start with what you do now
you don't need to completely revamp your processes to start to benefit from a flow-based system, such as Kanban.

Take all of those unwritten rules and make them explicit so everyone has visibility into how your team makes decisions and is measured.
tastes a bit better today
Impediments cause flow to start and stop, challenging the WIP limits. This is the point!

Be scientific:
Evaluate a situation, suggest a change, predict an

state changes in the work, that generally reflect changes in the activity used to generate new information about that work,

What makes up a workflow?
Example: analysis (an activity) generates information. When it reaches a point of diminishing returns, we tend to refer to the work as “analyzed” and change to a different activity
work is limited at each stage and is pulled from the column to the left when there is available capacity in a workflow state
monitor and report the flow of work through the workflow
in the end, we want to achieve fast, smooth flow
Without an explicit understanding of how things work and how work is actually done, any discussion of problems tends to be emotional, anecdotal and subjective.

You can't improve what you don't understand.
Use models:
When teams understand theories about workflow, process & risk, they are more able to improve the problem.
outcome, then observe what
really happens and compare
to your prediction
Respect the current process, roles, responsibilities and job titles
Recognize that some parts of the existing process may work acceptably and may be worth preserving
Eliminates initial fears and encourages broader support
Agree to pursue incremental,
evolutionary change
Sweeping change initiatives often
end in a big
the J Curve
starting point
valley of pain
where we
give up
potential achievement
Encourage acts of leadership at all levels
Work collaboratively, but don't wait for someone with a title to make things better
Improvement doesn't just happen to you
then evolve
Kanban is for factories
Kanban did begin in a Toyota factory and has since been adopted in many others - to varying degrees of success.
However, flow based work principles can be applied in numerous types of work environments
Kanban doesn't provide predictability
The predictability in a Kanban system comes from measuring cycle times and using that to predict the delivery date of an item in the backlog.
~5d * #7 = ~35d to delivery
= cycle time
= priority
Kanban and Scrum are frenemies
Wrong! Kanban and Scrum are
more similar than many realize.
In fact, many Scrum teams overlay Kanban on top of their process because they see the value of managing flow in a sprint
How to start
Cycle Time
Lead Time
measure mean, average and standard deviations
reduce variation to reduce deviations, improve predicatbility

Cumulative Flow Diagrams
Flow Efficiency
Suggested models
The Theory of Constraints (bottlenecks)
The System of Profound Knowledge (variation)
Lean Economic Model (waste)

Visualize your work & track how much work goes through your system normally
Identify 1+ bottlenecks, place a reduced WIP limit on the step just before it.

Monitor & adjust as needed.

Move on to the
next bottlenecks.
you need to learn theories behind processes to know how to change them
What is it?
Why use it?
sustainable pace for your teams
faster delivery = more money
small changes
over time
a pull system that provides
focus, sustainable pace & regular delivery by focusing on optimizing the flow of work from beginning to end

also proves to be a great way to promote improvement
literally means
underpins TPS
evolutionary change
Implement Feedback Loops
seek out feedback beyond the team level, e.g. an operations review
If I put WIP limits in place, people will be sitting around doing nothing
Pull systems put a lower priority on capacity utilization, higher priority on focused delivery
there are too many cars. can't move anywhere
utilize slack time to :
relieve the bottleneck
maintain your systems
innovate & learn
why do you think people have their best ideas in bed or the shower?
Is it more important
to start work or finish
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