Critical Concepts For Kanban

Kanban has a few key concepts that are critical to being successful with this methodology. Traditional project management valued complete resource utilization to the point of diminishing returns, as valuable human resources spent their time starting and stopping tasks rather than completing work.   Rather than work through blockages, team members would start new work giving the appearance of productivity.

Lean Thinking

  • Small batches
  • Elimination of waste and blockage
  • Utilizing a Pull system
  • Process improvement
  • Visualization of the value stream

Queue Theory

  • Wait time while working on a story or epic
  • Throughput of the team expressed as work items or backlog items
  • Capacity of the system in work items
  • Optimizing utilization based on the total system
  • Thresholds of Work in Progress
  • Inter-queue relationships – how does work from one team impact another

Theory of Constraints (variability & cycle time)

  • Understanding bottlenecks
  • Understanding variability
  • Little’s law:  Throughput =  Work in Progress / Cycle Time

Systems Thinking

  •  Optimizing the system rather than parts of the system

Flow

  • Frequent and continuous delivery of completed work items,
  • In the short term, preserving flow should trump waste elimination.  Waste elimination should always be the long term goal.

Look for more information on these concepts in future posts.

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