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Kanban (2010)

The basics

Kanban was introduced as an alternative or complement to Scrum, which was already widely used in the industry. While both Kanban and Scrum are Agile software development methodologies that aim to improve the delivery of software products, they have different approaches and strengths.

Kanban is a pull-based approach that emphasises visualising and managing the flow of work. It does not have time-boxed iterations like Scrum and focuses on continuously improving the delivery process.

The following list includes the main principles of Kanban:

  • Make work visible: Use a board to visualise the flow of work

  • Limit work in progress: to prevent bottlenecks and optimise flow

  • Manage flow: rather than managing individual tasks or resources

  • Make policies explicit: everyone involved can understand how work should flow

  • Implement feedback loops: continuously improve the process and make adjustments as needed

  • Measure performance: use metrics such as lead time, cycle time, and throughput to improve the performance:

    • Lead time: is the time it takes for a work item to be completed, from when it's received until it's marked as done.

    • Cycle time: is the time it takes for a work item to move through the entire process, from start to finish.

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You can learn more about Kanban by reading the guide at Monday.com.

Pros and cons

The best thing about Kanban is that it introduces the idea of reinforcing focus by limiting work in progress and removing time boxes, leading to better productivity, quality and agility.

Like Lean UX, the bad thing about Kanban is that it is also harder to implement than Scrum. Scrum has a more structured framework with specific roles, events, and artifacts that help orgnisations adopt Scrum with ease. Scrum also has a well-established certification process and training offerings, which can help organisations adopt and implement the methodology more effectively.

Another potential problem with Kanban is that its focus on metrics like cycle and lead time can reinforce the idea of outputs over outcomes. Leading to reduced customer value and decreased quality.