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Personal Kanban 101:
Achieving
Focus & Clarity
with
Your First Personal Kanban
Modus Cooperandi InfoPak 2 personalkanban.com series
Despite our best intentions, life has a way of becoming complicated.
People, tasks, responsibilities, deadlines, and even recreation all compete for our
attention. The human brain however, simply does not respond well to the stress of
juggling multiple priorities.
That's where Personal Kanban
can help.
Adaptable to all ages and
situations, and accessible to all
learning styles, Personal Kanban
allows us to visualize the amount
of work we have and the way in
which that work is carried out.
Unlike other personal
productivity tools, Personal
Kanban is a pattern, not an edict.
Users can mold it into whatever
shape or form is most suited for
the situation at hand. Once you
understand the pattern and
principles behind it, you can
apply those concepts in ways
that respond precisely to your
situation.
Additionally, Personal Kanban is
scalable, meaning it works just
as well for families and
workgroups, as it does with the
individual.
There are only two real rules with Personal Kanban:
1. Visualize your work
2. Limit your work-in-progress (WIP)
It’s that simple. With time, your understanding of the nature of your work will evolve. As it
does, your kanban will likewise evolve.
Why Visualize?
Just as the images in this
InfoPak lend to the story
of Personal Kanban,
the Personal Kanban lends
to the story of our work.
With Personal Kanban, work is no longer an amorphous
concept - it has a definite shape, a form, a storyline, and a flow.
This gives work coherence, which is powerful. The brain can then take
this new coherence and based upon it make decisions. Prioritization
becomes easier, tasks becomes less daunting. With Personal Kanban,
we gain power over our work.
Why Limit WIP?
You have two hands.
You can only juggle so
many things at one
time.
The more you add, the
more likely it is that you
will fumble and drop
something.
All too often we equate “free time” with
“capacity,” and assume we have the ability
to fit in more work. In this case, we are not
unlike a freeway.
A freeway can support 0-100% capacity.
But when its capacity extends beyond
65%, it begins to slow down.
When it reaches 100% capacity, it stops.
Capacity is a horrible measure of
throughput.
Similarly, multitasking is a horrible way to
manage your synapses, (and as a recent
Stanford study shows, it is likewise
ineffective.) If your brain is a highway and
you are filling yourself with work, after a
while you start to slow down.
Your mental rush hour gets longer and
longer. You find yourself struggling to
accomplish even the simplest tasks.
That motorcyclist in the picture is that last
little 5 minute task you agreed to do.
"It's just five minutes! How could I say no?"
But I Still Fit!
Why Don't I
Move?
Simply because you think you can handle more work-in-progress does not make it
so. Simply because we can fit a few more SUVs on the freeway does not mean it’s
a good idea. Idle time is vital for a healthy brain. Time when you aren’t forcing your
brain to pump something out is when it’s doing background processing on things
you “aren’t” doing. We must limit WIP.
BUT WHAT IS A "KANBAN" ALREADY?
A kanban is a tool to visualize, organize, and
complete work. The first recognized
business use of a kanban can be traced to
Taiichi Ohno’s work at Toyota. Ohno needed
a way to quickly communicate to all workers
how much work was being done, in what
state that work was in, and how it was being
carried out. His intent was to make work
processes transparent, ensuring that at any
given time everyone - not just managers -
knew what was “really” going on. The goal
was to empower line workers to improve
how Toyota worked, to make sure everyone
had a hand in making Toyota better.
As it applied to Toyota, this is what is called
"Industrial Kanban."
So let's get started. Here we see a simple Personal Kanban. The top part of the board shows three states: Backlog, Doing, and
Done. Tasks move across this simple workflow.
In a subtle way, this is accomplishing three main things:
1. Showing us the work we have in progress (WIP)
2. Showing us all the work we haven’t gotten to yet (Backlog)
3. Showing us how efficiently we work (Throughput)
That’s it! That’s all there is physically to creating a Personal Kanban.
Then, the simplicity of this system helps us understand how we do what we do, and how long it takes to do it. Simply having
clarity around our workload is a tremendous psychological gift.
Step One: Establish Your Value Stream
Value Stream: The flow of work from the moment you start to when it is
finished. The most simple value stream possible is:
While you can set this up on a piece of paper or a white board, a white
board is preferable. Why? Because as you come to understand your value
stream, you will want to change your Personal Kanban to reflect that
understanding. You might add steps, or refine how you think about work. A
white board provides permanence, yet allows ultimate flexibility: you can always
erase and draw something new.
Backlog
(work waiting to
be done)
Doing
(work being done)
Done (yes, that’s
right, work that’s
done)
Step Two: Establish Your Backlog
Backlog: The work you haven’t done yet. All that stuff that you've let pile
up is your backlog. Consider everything you need to do, then begin
itemizing your task on Post-its. Big tasks, small tasks, get them all in
writing. Then start populating your backlog with those Post-its. Don’t
sweep things under the rug. Don’t lie to yourself. Your first backlog-fest
should be a painful experience.
You should, at some point say,
“Zounds! I've way too much to do!”
Step Three: Establish
Your WIP Limit
Work in Progress (WIP) Limit:
The amount of work you can handle
at one time. We have a tendency to
leave many things half-done. Our
brains hate this. Part of what
makes Personal Kanban so effective
is its ability to help us find the sweet
spot where we are doing the optimal
amount of work at the optimal
speed.
To establish your WIP limit, start with
an arbitrary number - let's say no
more than 5 things to begin with -
and you can tweak it from there.
Step Four: Begin to Pull
Pull: To take completed work from one stage of the
value stream and pull it into the next. You’re ready
to go! That’s right – step four is Begin Working.
Beyond Step Four:
Prioritize, Refine,
and Reduce
In Lean management, inventory is
considered waste - it causes companies to
over-invest in items they don't need. For
individuals, backlog is comparable to
inventory. You need to manage the number
of obligations you have, so they don't weigh
you down psychologically, preventing you
from being productive and enjoying life.
With your Personal Kanban you will begin to
see work mount up and take different forms.
You may assign colored or shaped Post-its
to different types of work or different
projects. As your work progresses, you will
see types of tasks or tasks for certain
projects that take longer to complete. You'll
begin to discern patterns in the flow of work.
Observing these patterns leads to better
prioritization of work, refinement of your
value stream, and reduction of waste.
We'll dive deeper into these concepts in
future InfoPaks.
Personal Kanban
Lean Thinking for Individuals and Small Teams
Read the Personal Kanban book
Consulting / Training / Classes
We offer public and private training classes
We regularly consult with organizations as small
as one person to the largest companies on earth.
We bring lean thinking to knowledge workers.
See the Modus Cooperandi Web Site
for More Details
Contact Us
We are at:
moduscooperandi.com
personalkanban.com
Twitter: ourfounder, sprezzatura
email: jim@moduscooperandi.com
This Slideshare is the Tip of the Iceberg
Images in this document by Creative Commons
license or permission of the artist:
Cover: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dilipm/355551687/sizes/l/
Page 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tzofia/270800047/sizes/m/
Page 4: http://www.flickr.com/photos/twcollins/561072853/
Page 5: http://www.flickr.com/photos/greendragonflygirl/3711167950/sizes/l/
Page 6: http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthieu-aubry/2755525208/
Page 7: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lynac/321100379/
Page 8: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ngader/275114449/sizes/o/
Page 9: http://www.limitedwipsociety.org/
Page 15: http://www.flickr.com/photos/samsmith/491756802/sizes/l/

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Personal Kanban 101

  • 1. Personal Kanban 101: Achieving Focus & Clarity with Your First Personal Kanban Modus Cooperandi InfoPak 2 personalkanban.com series
  • 2. Despite our best intentions, life has a way of becoming complicated. People, tasks, responsibilities, deadlines, and even recreation all compete for our attention. The human brain however, simply does not respond well to the stress of juggling multiple priorities.
  • 3. That's where Personal Kanban can help. Adaptable to all ages and situations, and accessible to all learning styles, Personal Kanban allows us to visualize the amount of work we have and the way in which that work is carried out. Unlike other personal productivity tools, Personal Kanban is a pattern, not an edict. Users can mold it into whatever shape or form is most suited for the situation at hand. Once you understand the pattern and principles behind it, you can apply those concepts in ways that respond precisely to your situation. Additionally, Personal Kanban is scalable, meaning it works just as well for families and workgroups, as it does with the individual.
  • 4. There are only two real rules with Personal Kanban: 1. Visualize your work 2. Limit your work-in-progress (WIP) It’s that simple. With time, your understanding of the nature of your work will evolve. As it does, your kanban will likewise evolve.
  • 5. Why Visualize? Just as the images in this InfoPak lend to the story of Personal Kanban, the Personal Kanban lends to the story of our work. With Personal Kanban, work is no longer an amorphous concept - it has a definite shape, a form, a storyline, and a flow. This gives work coherence, which is powerful. The brain can then take this new coherence and based upon it make decisions. Prioritization becomes easier, tasks becomes less daunting. With Personal Kanban, we gain power over our work.
  • 6. Why Limit WIP? You have two hands. You can only juggle so many things at one time. The more you add, the more likely it is that you will fumble and drop something.
  • 7. All too often we equate “free time” with “capacity,” and assume we have the ability to fit in more work. In this case, we are not unlike a freeway. A freeway can support 0-100% capacity. But when its capacity extends beyond 65%, it begins to slow down. When it reaches 100% capacity, it stops. Capacity is a horrible measure of throughput. Similarly, multitasking is a horrible way to manage your synapses, (and as a recent Stanford study shows, it is likewise ineffective.) If your brain is a highway and you are filling yourself with work, after a while you start to slow down. Your mental rush hour gets longer and longer. You find yourself struggling to accomplish even the simplest tasks. That motorcyclist in the picture is that last little 5 minute task you agreed to do. "It's just five minutes! How could I say no?" But I Still Fit! Why Don't I Move?
  • 8. Simply because you think you can handle more work-in-progress does not make it so. Simply because we can fit a few more SUVs on the freeway does not mean it’s a good idea. Idle time is vital for a healthy brain. Time when you aren’t forcing your brain to pump something out is when it’s doing background processing on things you “aren’t” doing. We must limit WIP.
  • 9. BUT WHAT IS A "KANBAN" ALREADY? A kanban is a tool to visualize, organize, and complete work. The first recognized business use of a kanban can be traced to Taiichi Ohno’s work at Toyota. Ohno needed a way to quickly communicate to all workers how much work was being done, in what state that work was in, and how it was being carried out. His intent was to make work processes transparent, ensuring that at any given time everyone - not just managers - knew what was “really” going on. The goal was to empower line workers to improve how Toyota worked, to make sure everyone had a hand in making Toyota better. As it applied to Toyota, this is what is called "Industrial Kanban."
  • 10. So let's get started. Here we see a simple Personal Kanban. The top part of the board shows three states: Backlog, Doing, and Done. Tasks move across this simple workflow. In a subtle way, this is accomplishing three main things: 1. Showing us the work we have in progress (WIP) 2. Showing us all the work we haven’t gotten to yet (Backlog) 3. Showing us how efficiently we work (Throughput) That’s it! That’s all there is physically to creating a Personal Kanban. Then, the simplicity of this system helps us understand how we do what we do, and how long it takes to do it. Simply having clarity around our workload is a tremendous psychological gift.
  • 11. Step One: Establish Your Value Stream Value Stream: The flow of work from the moment you start to when it is finished. The most simple value stream possible is: While you can set this up on a piece of paper or a white board, a white board is preferable. Why? Because as you come to understand your value stream, you will want to change your Personal Kanban to reflect that understanding. You might add steps, or refine how you think about work. A white board provides permanence, yet allows ultimate flexibility: you can always erase and draw something new. Backlog (work waiting to be done) Doing (work being done) Done (yes, that’s right, work that’s done)
  • 12. Step Two: Establish Your Backlog Backlog: The work you haven’t done yet. All that stuff that you've let pile up is your backlog. Consider everything you need to do, then begin itemizing your task on Post-its. Big tasks, small tasks, get them all in writing. Then start populating your backlog with those Post-its. Don’t sweep things under the rug. Don’t lie to yourself. Your first backlog-fest should be a painful experience. You should, at some point say, “Zounds! I've way too much to do!”
  • 13. Step Three: Establish Your WIP Limit Work in Progress (WIP) Limit: The amount of work you can handle at one time. We have a tendency to leave many things half-done. Our brains hate this. Part of what makes Personal Kanban so effective is its ability to help us find the sweet spot where we are doing the optimal amount of work at the optimal speed. To establish your WIP limit, start with an arbitrary number - let's say no more than 5 things to begin with - and you can tweak it from there.
  • 14. Step Four: Begin to Pull Pull: To take completed work from one stage of the value stream and pull it into the next. You’re ready to go! That’s right – step four is Begin Working.
  • 15. Beyond Step Four: Prioritize, Refine, and Reduce In Lean management, inventory is considered waste - it causes companies to over-invest in items they don't need. For individuals, backlog is comparable to inventory. You need to manage the number of obligations you have, so they don't weigh you down psychologically, preventing you from being productive and enjoying life. With your Personal Kanban you will begin to see work mount up and take different forms. You may assign colored or shaped Post-its to different types of work or different projects. As your work progresses, you will see types of tasks or tasks for certain projects that take longer to complete. You'll begin to discern patterns in the flow of work. Observing these patterns leads to better prioritization of work, refinement of your value stream, and reduction of waste. We'll dive deeper into these concepts in future InfoPaks.
  • 16. Personal Kanban Lean Thinking for Individuals and Small Teams Read the Personal Kanban book Consulting / Training / Classes We offer public and private training classes We regularly consult with organizations as small as one person to the largest companies on earth. We bring lean thinking to knowledge workers. See the Modus Cooperandi Web Site for More Details Contact Us We are at: moduscooperandi.com personalkanban.com Twitter: ourfounder, sprezzatura email: jim@moduscooperandi.com This Slideshare is the Tip of the Iceberg
  • 17. Images in this document by Creative Commons license or permission of the artist: Cover: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dilipm/355551687/sizes/l/ Page 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tzofia/270800047/sizes/m/ Page 4: http://www.flickr.com/photos/twcollins/561072853/ Page 5: http://www.flickr.com/photos/greendragonflygirl/3711167950/sizes/l/ Page 6: http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthieu-aubry/2755525208/ Page 7: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lynac/321100379/ Page 8: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ngader/275114449/sizes/o/ Page 9: http://www.limitedwipsociety.org/ Page 15: http://www.flickr.com/photos/samsmith/491756802/sizes/l/