Kanban was developed by Taiichi Ohno at Toyota. Kanban (看板) is japanese for sign or billboard. Originally it was used and developed for just in time manufacturing. This is known as the “Toyota Production System”.

Kanban for Thought Workers

Inspired by the Toyota Production System in 2010 David J. Anderson describes Kanban for thought-workers. It is a simple concept, easy to get started with. It is less opinionated than other approaches. Just start with what you have right now.

Basic Principles

Principle 1: Start With What You Do Now

Just put every work item on a Kanban board.

Principle 2: Agree to Pursue Incremental, Evolutionary Change

Small changes. Check if things improved or not. Drop stuff if bad.

Principle 3: Respect the Current Process, Roles & Responsibilities

No Big-Bang Reorg. Small incremental feel well change.

Principle 4: Encourage Acts of Leadership at All Levels

Everyone can contribute to a better work environment. Respect all opinions. Just try out suggestions.

Basic Practices

Practice 1: Visualize the Workflow

Build a board with the columns that fit your workflow.

Practice 2: Limit Work in Progress

Only work on teamsize * 1.5 tickets in parallel. Adjust the number up or down depending on your results.

Practice 3: Manage Flow

Identify bottlenecks and other issues. Try to have a continuous flow of tickets. This gives predictability.

Practice 4: Make Process Policies Explicit

Write down your rules. Write them down in one location (e.g. a Wiki). Communicate that location.

Practice 5: Feedback Loops

Have regular retrospectives to discuss further adjustment of your workflow. Look on metrics (e.g. ticket solving time, etc.).

Practice 6: Improve Collaboratively (using models & the scientific method)

Kanban in Practice

Use a board

Physical Kanban Board

Great for brainstorming or project starts. Has zero onboarding time (everyone can hold a pen and knows what sticky notes are for).

Digital Kanban Board

Great for everything else. Globally available, very clean and readable, nice statistics.

Example of a Kanban Board

A minimal Kanban Board example with columns for a basic workflow.

Kanban Board Example


Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business Author: David J. Anderson ISBN: 0984521402

Lean from the Trenches: Managing Large-Scale Projects with Kanban Author: Henrik Kniberg ISBN: 1934356859

Kanban in Action Authors: Marcus Hammarberg - Joakim Sunden ISBN: 1617291056

Ecodia Training: Agile Project Management using Kanban

Also available as Remote-Training

Kanban is a lean aproach to project management derived from lean manufacturing best practices established by Toyota Japan. It found widespread adoption in the IT industry since 2010 following the publishing of “Kanban” by David J. Anderson. It offers a pratical alternative to Scrum and is known to scale easier than the Scaled Agile Framework.

This workshop introduces your team to the concepts of Kanban and its methodologies. This includes adopting Kanban in your existing workflows, deriving metrics for planing and forecasting and working on constant improvement.