Over the years of coaching agile teams, we generally recommend they start with either Scrum or Kanban. Here’s a post on how we chose where to start. It’s easier to start with only one framework, especially when teams are new to agile. However, once they have been doing it a while, we often recommend integrating a bit of both approaches. We are pragmatists NOT purists! We believe that understanding both frameworks and being able to adapt and use bits of both when needed provide the best mix.
But, we have also noticed that most teams think Kanban means having a visual board with some columns and not much else. So introducing the principles of Kanban can be an eye opener, and help them unlock the real power of Kanban.
Do you have a blocked column?
For example: How many teams do you know of that have a “blocked” column? It seems like a reasonable thing to do right? It helps identify when something has an impediment. And it means people can get on with another task while they wait for that to get unblocked.
But what usually happens with the blocked column? Well no one is actually working on getting these unblocked, because no one is actually waiting for them, everyone has something else to do. o, that blocked column becomes a big black hole in your process where things go in and never come out. Worst of all if they do come out (because now the item has become urgent), everyone has to stop what they are doing and remember what that item was about.
Try this instead
But when you understand the principles of Kanban, you will realise it is far more effective to keep the blocked item in the workflow step it is currently in. Here it counts towards that column’s wip limit, which guarantees it get focussed attention to resolve it. There is also a natural limit to how many items can be blocked. And when it does become unblocked, the team has the capacity to address the issue without stopping something else.
This is just one example of a common pattern we see in team task boards, which hinders their performance. A few more common issues are: work moving backwards in the workflow, a lack of in progress and done columns in the workflow to enable pull, a lack of wip limits, a process step that is dependant on a specific skill or time window which doesn’t have a buffer in front of it to maximise throughput.
A new course
This is exactly why we created an online Kanban course. We want everyone to understand the five principles of Kanban, to help elevate their productivity. Knowledge is power, We already have a free Scrum basics course, that covers all the basics of Scrum. It was time to add a Kanban course to the mix!
Conscious that today so many non technical teams embrace agile we made sure the course uses a non software example and it completely free of IT jargon.
Learn the basic Kanban principles (or be reminded of then) quickly and easily. It should take around 3 hours if you know nothing about Kanban.
For Agile Coaches
If you are an agile coach – this course is perfect for your teams or for new people joining who need a refresher. Let us teach them the basics and then you can focus on the coaching and helping them implement what they have learned. Get in touch, if you are interested in a corporate license for multiple copies.