Skip to main content


Webinar July 6th - Essential Kanban: It's all about FLOW!

July 12th, 2018 Online Webinar. London: 1400; New York: 0900; Bangalore: 1830Customers are always saying "Why is not done yet?" and staff are always saying "We're too busy." But what's the real problem? Kanban has the key!   Sign up Now! Kanban is a way to visualise and manage your team's (and your organisation's) work, and the first crucial insight it brings is that it's the flow of work, not the busy-ness of staff, or the efficiency of each worker, that bring value to your customers and profitability to the business. This half-hour webinar introduces you to the foundational concept of Kanban - FLOW - and it will set you on the road to find out more. Don't miss it! Webinar duration: 30 minutes, plus questions and discussion This webinar is a great introduction to Kanban for those new to it, but also a great resource for those familiar with the method, and looking for a straightforward and short description of one of its key ideas. Why not invit…
Recent posts

Kanban: How to Start; How to Scale

How to start...

Several years ago I published my shortest possible advice on "How to start using Kanban". Not being restricted by arbitrary limits like 140 characters, I would express these steps today as:
See your work as a flow of value to your customerStart from where you areVisualize your work, your process and your policiesAdopt validated changes that improve things Note that the first three of these steps do not involve changing what you are currently doing, how you are doing it, who is doing it, or what their role is called. The changes are: to your viewpoint (Kanban is a way of seeing, as much as it is a way of changing); to your approach to change (in an evolutionary way, from where you are); and to the use of visualisation (to make invisible knowledge work visible, as well as the process and policies - like controlling WiP - that apply to it).

The fourth step though, is to start improving things. It's good to see that previous critics of Kanban are recognising t…

The Kanban Lens: a way to see

The Kanban Lens is a way to see your work. Specifically it asks us to see:
work as flow workflow as knowledge discovery stepsknowledge work as a serviceorganizations as networks of services I got involved with the Kanban community not very long ago - in 2012. I wanted to understand what the Kanban method was. People were saying “it’s better than this” or “worse than that”. But they weren't telling me what it was! The only detailed explanations came from critics or tool vendors, and to be frank neither of those sources were particularly reliable. I knew about the general practices of Kanban and its principles for change management. I even understood kanban systems, which are used in Kanban, just as they are in manufacturing and delivery systems, to ensure we only start work when our customers actually want it, and we have the capacity finish it.

But that still didn’t explain what the Kanban method was.

A few years ago Rodrigo Yoshima used an eye-opening phrase in a talk he did at Le…

Time is an Asset - Delay is a Cost

Cost of Delay is a vital concept for management teams to understand and use. It enables better decision-making concerning investments and cost-saving, and is the basis of a coherent economic framework for considering the trade-offs management are responsible for, when deciding for example, whether to focus on reducing cost, or on investments that might reduce costs or increase value in the future.

After over a year of blogging and conference presentations on the topic - much of which has focused on the technical rather than practical explanations - I want to draw these to a close here with some straightforward summaries for managers of agile teams. While I think most managers will benefit from looking more deeply at why this advice applies (and its limits based on the assumptions underlying it), I'm also clear that a summary of what to do is the most helpful.

My thinking has evolved over the year, since the preparation and publication of the Kanban guide to Kanban - Essential Kanb…

A "Qualitative" Formula for WSJF?

In this series of blogs we have been examining the use of Cost of Delay as a way of understanding ordering work - either from a quantitative approach using estimates for value, urgency, duration and/or size, or from a qualitative approach, such as the use of Delay Cost Profiles [1], Risk Profiles [2,3] or Value Size matrices [4]. The SAFe definition of WSJF is something of a hybrid, since it uses a formula, but a formula that has only "qualitative" value at best. Here is their definition [5]:

The 4 terms are determined by Planning Poker estimation using a Fibonacci scale (usually 1 to 20). The work items are ordered according to the formula following an estimation workshop. While this formula cannot provide a true quantitative analysis for ordering items to maximise value, some consultants using it have said that is a useful technique for the discussion it engenders among stakeholders. Once the numbers have been generated the items ordered, re-ordering to a better order is s…

WSJF - Should you divide by Lead Time or Size?

Understanding Cost of Delay (Part 4): WSJF - the "divisor"
This article is the fourth in a series of blogs on Cost of Delay (CoD) and Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF).

Note: terms in boldface are defined in the Glossary of  Essential Kanban Condensedwhich is available here. To get the background to this piece check out these previous posts:
Part 1: Understanding Cost of Delay and its Use in Kanban
Part 2: Delay Cost and Urgency Profiles
Part 3: How to Calculate WSJF
Part 4: WSJF - Should you divide by Lead Time or Size? (this article)
Part 5: A "Qualitative" Formula for WSJF?
Part 6: Time is an Asset - Delay is a CostIn Part 3 we established why the factor used for prioritising work items is urgency divided by the development delay (U/D). The item to be done first should have the highest value for this term (sometimes referred to as the "wisjif" or CD3). Urgency is the rate of decay of the business value (the Delay Cost per week) and we must estimate both the…

How to calculate WSJF

Understanding Cost of Delay (Part 3): Calculating WSJF
In part one of this series of blogs on Understanding Cost of Delay and its Use in Kanban, we considered the meaning and difference between Delay Cost and Urgency (or Cost of Delay). In part two we looked at differentDelay Cost and Urgency Profilesand the archetypes defined in Kanban for classifying work items by these profiles. Now we look at the prioritisation/ordering technique know as Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF): the formula, the assumptions behind it and how the formula arises. WSJF brings the primacy of time into decision making about which item to implement and when.
Consider a product development team. They have many ideas for what to add or change in the product, and for improving the way they work. The question is, which of these many useful things should be done first. It turns out the that the total business value of a proposal is not the the deciding factor in maximising the business value a team can deliver in…