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Kanban and Influence of David J. Anderson on Agile Junior(AJ)

AJ has been learning about Kanban, and David J Anderson’s work and writing has emerged as a strong influence. Some of his writing is absolutely artistic. Read this from his book “Kanban – Successful Evolutionary Change for your Technology Business.” – “Kanban is not a software development life-cycle methodology or an approach to project management. It requires that some process is already in place so that kanban can be applied to incrementally change the underlying process”

David also mentions that with successful Kanban implementations we expect a set of emergent behaviors including-

  1. Iteration-less Development
  2. Tolerance for Process experimentation

Brilliant!!

Kanban is many things to many people. It is Science, Art and Innovation in the same Package.

Kanban is not a Framework, process or methodology. The beauty of Kanban is that it can be applied to any team, any organization and to any type of work in conjunction with the process or framework already being used. Kanban is a tool for continuous improvement, and for organizational transformation.

Kanban can be used for a Scrum team, a XP team, even to a waterfall team. Kanban can also be used at program level, portfolio level.

It is being widely adopted by leaders, business owners as a tool for visualizing the workflow, managing WIP limits and for prioritization.

Does that mean that we should motivate Scrum or XP teams to adopt Kanban?

I don’t see any harm in trying. A good starting point may be adopting core Kanban principles (without changing any underlying process)-

  1. Visualize the Workflow.
  2. Limit Work-In-Progress.
  3. Measure and Manage Flow.
  4. Make Policies explicit.
  5. Use Models to identify improvement opportunities.

So, Why Kanban?

The fact is that Kanban is increasingly being adopted in Agile Transformation Frameworks at various levels and for various purposes, be it Scaled Agile Framework or various homegrown Enterprise Transformation Frameworks.
Kanban has been used by McKinsey at various organizations as a tool for developing lean organizational behaviors and as a tool for continuous improvement.

Also the fact that Kanban has absolutely zero prescription makes it unique and easy to adopt for everyone. I find it intriguing that Kanban actually promotes process tailoring for every team. By doing so not only we are promoting self organizing teams and decentralized decision making but also accepting the fact that each team is different, their work is different, their needs and situation is different. It is futile to expect that a process or a framework would work for everyone.

Kanban is a also a great tool for continuous improvement. Mature Agile teams who have successfully adopted Scrum or XP may have this feeling that “they have found the ultimate destination” which doesn’t make sense in this era of relentless improvement, in an era where Continuous Innovation is a matter of survival.

These teams should be encouraged to go “Iterationless” using Kanban.

This is it for now. Happy learning!

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