International Kanban Master Foundation

Steen Lerche-Jensen

1.5. The 6 main Practices of Kanban Method

  • Visualize the flow of work: This is the most essential first step to adopting in applying the Kanban method. You should envision – On physical board or an electronic Kanban board, the procedural steps that you currently use to deliver your work or your services. Based on the complexity of your process in the work-mix (Various types of work items that you exert on and deliver), your Kanban board Can be very simple to complex. once you visualize the procedure, then you can envision the current work that you and your team are doing.

This can be in the form of stickies or cards with different colors to indicate either different types of services or could be simply the different type of work items (The colors in Kanban are a symbol different work item types). whether or not it may be useful, your Kanban board can have different Swim Lanes, With either class of service or work item type. However, to simplify it all, you could also have a single Swim Lane to manage all your work and do any board redesign later.

  • Limit Work in progress (WIP): This is fundamental to implementing Kanban – a ‘pull-system’. by limiting WIP, you encourage your team to complete the work that is at hand before assigning themselves to new work. Therefore, any work in progress must be completed and marked as done. at first, what is your WIP limits should be may prove to be hard. In fact, you might start with no WIP limits at all. The great Don Reinertsen, while at one of Lean Kanban Conferences, suggested that one can start with no WIP limits and only check on the initial work in progress as the team starts to use Kanban. Once you have enough data you can define your WIP limit for every level or stage of your workflow as being equal to half the average WIP.

Characteristically, most of the teams start with a WIP limit no of 1 to 1.5 times the number of people working in a stage or level. With WIP limiting and placing them on each column of the board not only assists the team members complete the previous tasks before taking up new stuff but also communicates to the customer in other shareholders informing them on limited capacity to work for any team and they should carefully plan on what work they ask the team to do.

“An interesting side effect of pull systems is that they limit work-in-progress (WIP) to some agreed-upon quantity” – David J. Anderson

  • Manage Flow: Handling and cultivating flow is the root of your Kanban system after you have applied the first 2 practices. A Kanban structure could assist you in managing course by emphasizing the different phases of the workflow and the status of work in each stage. Depending on how well the workflow is well-defined and WIP Boundaries are fixed, you will observe either an even flow within WIP limits or grind heaping up as something gets apprehended up and starts to clasp up capacity. Wholly of this disturbs how rapidly work navigates from the start to the close of the workflow (Also called - its value stream). Kanban assists your team examine the system and brand modifications to advance flow in order to lessen the period it takes to complete each portion of work. One major aspect in this process is looking at the intermediate waiting phases of observing work and removing bottlenecks. And see how long work stuff stay in the “Handoff stages”. With time, you will learn that reducing the amount of time taken in these stages is the key to reducing cycle time. While improving the flow, the team will deliver a smoother and more predictable work delivery. With better predictability, making consistent commitments to your customer on when you will complete tasks becomes easier. Refining one’s ability to forecast completion time is reliably plays a big part in the Kanban System.
  • Make Process Policies Explicit: It is also crucial to define and visualize one's policies openly (the rules or guidelines) on the protocols followed when you do your work. Through initializing explicit process guidelines, you create a common foundation for all participants to understand how to do any type of task in the system. The rules may be on board level, swim lane level, and for each column there can be a checklist of steps that need to be accomplished for each work item-type, entry-exit criteria for each column, or anything which assists the member of a team manage the flow of work on the board. Some of the examples of explicit policies are; the definition of when the task is completed, the account of individual lanes/columns, who pulls when and many more. Strategies must be defined explicitly and visualized on top of the board and on each lane.
  • Implement Feedback loops:

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  • Implement Feedback Loops: Feedback loops are the key section of a great system. The feedback loops initiated in the Kanban system include; review phases in the Kanban workflow, measurements and reports coupled up with a range of graphical indicators, which give you efficient feedback on the progress of your work or lack of ample progress in your system. As the mantra that says, “Fail fast! Fail often!” could be subconsciously misinterpreted by many groups, the idea behind getting feedback at an early stage, most likely when one is on the wrong track with work, is critical when it comes to the right work, product or service delivery to the customer in the shortest time possible.
  • Improve Collaboratively, Evolve Experimentally (using the scientific method): Using the Kanban Scientific method is an evolutionary development practice, which helps you adhere to little modifications and improve gradually at a manageable pace and size. This promotes the use of is scientific method where you create a hypothesis, test it and make necessary changes to the test outcome. The main objective of a team managing the agile principles is to evaluate the process gradually and progress systematically as required if possible.

The results of each alteration you trigger can be evident and measured by different signals in your Kanban system. Through these signals, one can evaluate whether a certain modification aids in improvement or not and choose between retaining it or try something different. The Kanban System assists one to pick many of the system’s performance data; manually if you use your physical board, or automatically if you use the electronic-Kanban Tool. Through using this data and metrics it generates, evaluation on whether the performance is increasing or dropping is highly evident, giving enough information on how to tweak your system as required.

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