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5 Arguments Against Kanban
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5 Arguments Against Kanban


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While Kanban is gaining more and more traction in the tech industry, we start to experience the same challenges as when the popularity of Agile started to rise. People get interested and ask "What is …

While Kanban is gaining more and more traction in the tech industry, we start to experience the same challenges as when the popularity of Agile started to rise. People get interested and ask "What is this Kanban thing I see popping up everywhere?". As soon as they learn the basics about it, the human brain does what it always does when processing information. It compares to what it already knows. This is where we lose our ability to learn something without prejudice. We come up with arguments why these new idea are not as good as the ones we are used to. In this presentation, I will cover 5 of the most common arguments against Kanban and explain why they are flawed, by exploring Kanban in depth. You will learn how to respond to these questions and get a more profound knowledge on the foundations of Kanban.

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  • 1. ARGUMENTS against KANBAN@NickOostvogels
  • 2. Kanban is on the riseSource : VersionOne - State of Agile Survey 2011
  • 3. When introducing new ideas…
  • 4. People compare it to what they know
  • 5. … and start to criticize
  • 6. Kanban is hard to explain briefly
  • 7. That’s normal• Kanban is a change management approach, not a process• Less prescriptive• It’s roots go all the way back to lean thinking
  • 8. What is Kanban? In Industry
  • 9. In Software Development Change Management approach that employs a WIP limited pull system
  • 10. 1. Start with what you now2. Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change3. Initially, respect current roles, responsibilities & job titles Source :
  • 11. then adopt the core practices1. Visualize2. Limit Work In Progress3. Manage Flow4. Make Process Policies Explicit5. Improve Collaboratively Source :
  • 12. For me …Kanban is a wayto change your process into onethat focuses on end to end valueand getting stuff delivered.
  • 13. And that’s hard to sell !
  • 14. Available soon on
  • 15. 5 tough questions1. We lose our ability to plan2. It will take longer3. Things will get stuck4. Stakeholders don’t care about feeding the flow5. We will lose team cohesion
  • 16. we loseourabilityto plan
  • 17. Noestimates?
  • 18. Customers
  • 19. Managing people
  • 20. Release planning Translation intoInitial requirementsspecs Estimation Review Release estimations Plan
  • 21. Issues• Not a repeatable process• Never built something alike• (educated) GUESSING• Software dev = Creative process
  • 22. Kanban : measuring
  • 23. Different sizes ???
  • 24. Use a scale compare
  • 25. Keep features small
  • 26. Why sizing?
  • 27. Planning withmeasurements
  • 28. Reduce variation 1. Reliable planning 2. Fast response 3. Stabilize the process 4. Base for continuous improvement
  • 29. Small releasesKanban != continuous deployment
  • 30. Small releasesKanban can lead to continuous deployment
  • 31. Won’t this annoy our users?
  • 32. Small releasesNO, because…• Updates will be smaller• Risk for bugs is lower+ Releasing early creates asense of urgency
  • 33. options for Re-planning1. Reprioritize the input queue2. Cadence3. Pull a planning meeting
  • 34. it willtakelonger
  • 35. Nodeadlines?
  • 36. Parkinson’slaw“The amount of time which one has to perform a task …… is the amount of time it will take to complete the task.”
  • 37. Management by cost
  • 38. Healthy balance in KanbanManaging by measuring
  • 39. Healthy balance in KanbanHelping to improveinstead of command & control
  • 40. Theory ofConstraints for process improvement
  • 41. the weakest chain determines the rate of the entire system
  • 42. the WIP Limits will let you feel the TOC and do something about it
  • 43. Flow • Only work on customer orders • Reduce guessing to avoid waste • Limit WIP to reduce inventory, cost & risk
  • 44. WIP limits createa pull system
  • 45. Isn’t this inefficient?
  • 46. NO, it reduces risk & waste!Not pulling = risk of No WIP Limits = starting something cost of waiting + that doesn’t match risk of getting expectations obsolete
  • 47. Things willget stuck,we can’tkeep WIPlimits!
  • 48. “Our testers can never keepup the pace of ourdevelopers.Developers would be idle forhalf of the time!”
  • 49. Remember:Kanban doesn’t focus onmaximizing utilization ofpeople
  • 50. End to end flow efficiency
  • 51. WIP limits will always cause bottlenecksThat’s a good thing!It drives continuous improvement towards end to end efficiency
  • 52. Being idle due to uneven flow distribution drives people crazy!
  • 53. Ex. 1 - Requirements
  • 54. Ex. 2 - Defects
  • 55. Ex. 3 - Deployment
  • 56. Ex. 4 - Emergencies
  • 57. Ex. 4 - Emergencies
  • 58. Collaboration
  • 59. Stakeholdersdon’t careabout feedingthe flow
  • 60. Prioritization doesn’t have tobe on task level
  • 61. Clear rules makeprioritization easier• What is the type of feature? (new, bug, enhancement, ...)• What is the business value?• What is the cost of delay and which type?• Any dependencies on other features?• …
  • 62. it forces stakeholders to do their homework!
  • 63. building an MVP Stakeholders care about Return on Investment
  • 64. Stakeholder collaboration
  • 65. focus on economic decisions instead of fighting for capacity
  • 66. Expectationmanagement
  • 67. we willloseteam cohesion
  • 68. Won’t the team turn into factory workers?
  • 69. WIP limits lead tocross-boundarycommunication
  • 70. Good teams have acommon goal
  • 71. Vertical organizedcompanies lead to teamswith conflicting goalsThat’s why cross-departmental functionswere created
  • 72. in Kanban, everybody contributes to the end 2 end process
  • 73. this is a powerful changemanagement approach• no theoretical frameworks• no new job descriptions• only some basic rules
  • 74. What about creative thinking?
  • 75. The focus on improvingflow stimulates creativity• Team will start to investigate• Limit back-cycles• Lead & Cycle time measuring stimulates close collaboration
  • 76. Will it cause a death march?
  • 77. Measurements are used tounderstand reality& have a base for improvement
  • 78. Not pushing to go faster but improving end 2 end
  • 79. Now you have a response!1. We lose our ability to plan2. It will take longer3. Things will get stuck4. Stakeholders don’t care about feeding the flow5. We will lose team cohesion
  • 80. Thanks!