Tuesday, April 16, 2013

There are 3, no make that 4... no really, shouldn't it be 3 Principles of Kanban?

+David Anderson first formulated the Foundational Principles of Kanban a few years ago:
  1. Start with what you do now
  2. Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change
  3. Respect the current process, roles, responsibilities & titles
I like that. It makes clear that Kanban is about changing your process (it isn't a process) and also that it's about changing your process in an evolutionary way - step by step, with a viable generation after each significant change. There's no known destination to the ideal, forever-great process, that we can produce a plan for getting to. Unlike the old farmer who replied to a request for directions with "You can't get there from here!", we have to get there from here, so let's start here.

I also like it because there's three! So much easier to remember.

But wait there's more. Recently the principles have been updated and there are now four. I'm sure someone will tell me when and by whom it was added, but I confess I don't know. I just know the fourth one's arrived. Even Wikipedia (2013-04-16) knows it, so it must  be true! So here are the four:
  1. Start with what you do now
  2. Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change
  3. Initially, respect current roles, responsibilities & job titles
  4. Encourage acts of leadership at all levels from individual contributor to senior management
Yes number four's a good one. It should definitely be there. But do we really need four? Three is much easier to remember, quicker to share, and - when two of the principles say almost the same thing - three could be a potential improvement.

So here's my suggestion for when someone next updates the Principles of Kanban. That is, when they update the three foundational Principles of Kanban:
  1. Start with what you do now (including the current roles, responsibilities & job titles)
  2. Agree to pursue (incremental) evolutionary change
  3. Encourage acts of leadership at all levels (from individual contributor to senior management)
If you want the snappy version, omit the phrases in parentheses.

See also "There are 6 core practices...".
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