Kanban Exploration


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Deep Dive on Kanban from the Scrum Gathering Amsterdam 2010

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  • Version 2008.8
  • Basic background to the name

    “The two pillars of the Toyota production system are just-in-time and automation with a human touch, or autonomation. The tool used to operate the system is kanban.”
    Taiichi Ohno, Toyota Production System (adopted 1962)

  • Deming, Ohno, Einstein

  • Systems Thinking - Vanguard Method
    Thinking -> System -> Performance

  • Purpose -> Measure -> Method

    Kanban enables method, and measure, but requires thinking to change

    Kanban is a change management method
  • Simon Sinek – startwithwhy.com
  • The Model
    All models are wrong. Some are useful
  • Visual Management
  • The flight plan table at the Battle of Britain War Rooms. 

    Meaning: Visualise, Interact, Persist
    Mental Model: Collective, Collaborative, Clarity

    Empowerment of team, allowing management to be Operational (solve problems) over Strategic (direct work)

  • Boundary Objects – Communities of Practice and Interest
    Common Point of Reference
    Different Meanings
    Coordination and Alignment
    Plastic / Working Agreements
    Different Concerns Simultaneously


  • Motivation

    carrot & stick
    autonomy, mastery & purpose (Daniel Pink: Drive)
    autonomy, cross-fertilisation, transcendence (Nonaka)

  • Edward Tufte – The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

    Design Types – Data Maps, Time Series, Space Time Narratives, Relational
    Data Ink, Junk and Density
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnygoldstein/4058204001/
  • LED tunnel. Titled Multiverse, installed by artist Leo Villareal in a 200-foot-long tunnel in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

    Wikipedia defines a multiverse as the hypothetical set of multiple possible universes that together comprise everything that physically exists: the entirety of space and time, all forms of matter, energy and momentum, and the physical laws and constants that govern them.

    A Kanban Multiverse can be defined as the hypothetical set of multiple possible Kanban Boards that together comprise everything that physically could be visualised: the entirety of scope and time, all forms of work type, status and flow, and the organisational laws and constants that govern them.

    Taking a 2d space and visualising multiple dimensions:
    Scope, Time, Resource, Quality
    Capacity, Demand
    Priority, Status, Issues, Risk, Constraints, Dependencies, Assumptions

  • Workflow
  • Software Development / Product Development has randomness and variation.
    We could just shrug and accept the randomness and variation.
    We could treat is like a black box, but make the results visible.
  • Or we could understand the mathematics and science behind the randomness and variation
    This allows us to take advantage and exploit the randomness and variation by influencing our process
    VSM gives us this transparency into our process.
  • Archaeology.
    Many layers.
    Not always what you expect.
    Often discover problems underneath

  • Demand analysis
    e.g. Power supply demand at half time in the Cup Final

    WIP Limits allow capacity allocation per demand type

  • Failure Demand

  • Capacity

    Core principle of Kanban
    Avoid too much work starting at the same time / at once
    Stop starting and start finishing

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  • Littles Law: Cycle Time = WIP / Throughput
    Traffic Flow Theory: Flow = Speed * Density

    Cycle Time & Throughput are key metrics
    Cycle Time – how soon can we deliver?
    Throughput – how much can we deliver?

    Cycle Time v Lead Time
  • 3 Projects
    Write the 1st 10 digits in a column
    Write the 1st 10 letters in a column
    Write the 1st 10 roman numerals in a column

    Sequential (non multi-tasking) - Column by column
    Parallel (multi-tasking) - Row by row

  • Keep the work flowing - “Flow where you can, pull when you must” – Mike Rother and John Shook: Learning to See

    Keep the work busy (flowing), not the worker. Economy of flow, not of scale (cost or utilisation)

  • Learning
  • Impediments
  • Remove tokens & Expose the Rocks
    Create a bottleneck & Fix the issues

  • Continuously Improve until Kanban aren’t Needed – Empty Slots
    Remove the tokens

  • Anxiety = expose the rocks
    Boredom = free up slots
  • Queues

  • Batches

  • What is the value?

    How do you break it down, and put to back together again?

    Benefits -> Features -> Stories -> Tasks

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  • Bubbles of slack form around the work

    Don’t need to schedule slack (e.g. XP Gold Cards)
  • Maximising Flow
  • Capability

    Establish a reliable and dependable capability
    Demonstrates a predictable capacity.
    Gives some confidence in co-ordinating the upcoming work when we are triggering rather than scheduling work.

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  • Example

    Transaction Costs and Co-ordination Costs

    Establish cadence based on existing costs, then seek to reduce costs to improve cadence (lower batch sizes)
  • Transaction cost and Co-ordination Cost influence cadence

  • How much stuff can we get done.

  • How long does it take to do stuff

    Class of Service – different types of demand

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  • Reliability

    How many people got the tube and used the timetable?
    How many people got the train and used the timetable?
    Regular and frequent release cadence, with understood cycle-time, reduces the need for planning overhead.

    Measuring performance against purpose to set expectations. Not a promise.
    Information. Truth, not targets.

    Forecast quarterly goals and objectives
    Prioritise MMFs to meet those goals and objectives
    Release regularly
    Build trust that the team is working to its full capacity

  • My final thoughts plus opportunity for questions

  • The Model
    All models are wrong. Some are useful
  • Kanban is a meta-language to help describe and think about process.
    It is not a methodology.

    Value Streams
    Limiting WIP

  • Levers to adjust either way, rather than knobs to turn to 11.

  • Difficulty "black 10". It's in the Valle Nevado ski center and starts at 3600 meters above sea level. 

  • Path of lower resistance – less big bang change

  • Evolution, not revolution
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  • Version 2009.5
  • Kanban Exploration

    1. 1. The Kanban Exploration
    2. 2. • 15 years of experience covering development, project management, team leadership, coaching and training. • Successfully applying Agile methods for the last 10 years. • Championed Agile and Lean Thinking with the BBC, Yahoo! and EMC Consulting. • Founding member of the Lean Software and Systems Consortium and the Limited WIP Society. Karl Scotland agile coach Twitter: @kjscotland
    3. 3. Purpose Elements Inter- Connections
    4. 4. Thinking System Performance Change Analysis
    5. 5. Purpose Measures Method
    6. 6. Systems Thinking Workflow Visualisation Work In Process Cadence Learning Flow Value Capability
    7. 7. 10 Ball Flow Game RULES: You are one big team Your goal: Process 20 balls by passing them through a pipeline, following a set of rules. Balls must have air time Everyone must touch each ball No balls direct to your neighbor Start point = End point PLAYBOOK: 1. Prepare (2 mins) 2. Estimate time 3. Process 4. Change system & re- estimate 5. Repeat 5 times 6. Debrief
    8. 8. YOUR TURN Visualise • the way the work works • value demand • failure demand • expedited work • work state
    9. 9. … Stage 1 DoneStage 2 Stage n…Work Items Queue In Process Queue In Process Queue In Process
    10. 10. … Stage 1 DoneStage 2 Stage n…Work Items Queue In Process Queue In Process Queue In Process
    11. 11. … Stage 1 DoneStage 2 Stage n…Work Items Queue In Process Queue In Process Queue In Process
    12. 12. YOUR TURN Visualise: • capacity for work • who is working on what • priorities for work • availability for work • unavailability for work
    13. 13. High High Low Ability Skills Anxiety Boredom Mihalyi Czikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
    14. 14. YOUR TURN Visualise: • blocked work • bottlenecks • work dependencies • people dependencies • 3rd party dependencies
    15. 15. YOUR TURN Visualise: • time since work was started • time to work completion • risk of work • quality of work • fidelity of work
    16. 16. Systems Thinking Workflow Visualisation Work In Process Cadence Learning Flow Value Capability
    17. 17. Thank you! Email: kscotland@rallydev.com Twitter: @kjscotland Blog: http://availagility.co.uk LWS: http://www.limitedwipsociety.org/