How to practice Kanban

Why should I care?

Tools and processes can introduce unnecessary changes to the way teams work. Practice the principles of Kanban in your team to streamline your current process and make it more efficient.

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a pull-based method for visualizing knowledge work. It emphasizes lean practices, task focus, feedback loops and simplicity.

There are four principles behind Kanban, including:

  • Visualize workflow
  • Limit work-in-progress
  • Pull work from column to column
  • Monitor, adapt, improve

Don’t waste time learning the "tricks of the trade." Instead, learn the trade.

 James Charlton

Kanban centres around a Kanban board. This board houses both tasks and workflow stages. The team “pulls” task when they have capacity to do so, and move it along the stages they define. The team’s capacity is defined by the limits they place on their workflow stages.

It’s simple, lightweight and works around your current process.

How to practice Kanban

1

Create a kanban board

Either physically or digitally create a board

2

Set workflow stages

Split the board into a number of columns, called stages, that reflect your team’s workflow

3

Set work-in-progress limits

Set an optional limit to the amount of cards that can be worked on in each stage (column) at a time

4

Add cards to the board

Create and add a card to the board that describes a set of tasks your team will be working on

5

Move task cards through stages

Move a card across the stages of the board as its tasks are being complete

6

Celebrate wins

Celebrate a card reaching the end of the board!

What to watch out for

  • Turning workflow stages into a gantt chart
  • Going beyond your capacity by setting unrealistic work-in-progress limits
  • Not iterating your process over time

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