Kanban is not something that you can learn in 4 hours

Adventures with Agile is very proud to host Klaus Leopold for his advanced Kanban class later in October. I contacted Klaus because, as far as I know, he is one of the only people in the world to have real world experience in implementing Kanban at large scale. I was interested to understand what challenges he had found and whether Kanban is really a viable scaling framework.

Logically, Kanban can scale to any size. But could it really work? Is it too simple for the vast complex organisational process challenges we have today?

Is Kanban a viable scaling framework?

I was very pleased to confirm what I had already suspected. That not only did it work on paper, but it worked in practice too. However, it wasn’t just a board with swim lanes, columns and WIP limits. There is a lot more to Kanban that one must understand before using it for anything more than tracking stories through the sprint.

The Kanban Game

I had previously played the Kanban game and seen how there are observable patterns that emerge on the board that are directly related to the organisational impediments and structural issues that most organisations face today. Seeing these patterns and knowing how to deal with them is far more powerful than simply tracking work items. Kanban can be used for real in depth organisational system thinking and problem definition.

The more you use the board, class of services and patterns, the better and deeper insights you get.

Simon Powers

Incidentally, if you want to play a simulation of the Kanban game at work, let me know, and I can arrange a workshop.

Is training valuable?

So, given that there is a huge wealth of information that we can gain from Klaus, I asked him if he would present some ideas and experience at Adventures with Agile. I also asked him to run a 2-day training course to cover the advanced aspects. Happily, he agreed.

I researched the training market and found that surprisingly not many people go on Kanban courses. The reason it seems, is a cognitive bias which follows the Dunning–Kruger effect. Even Agile coaches or ‘experts’ feel that Kanban is so simple that they don’t need to train to learn it. I have written this article, not to try to make money on ticket sales! But to encourage coaches and organisational design consultants to reconsider that idea. Klaus’ course can give you and your organisations a deeper understanding of the challenges you face through the window of Kanban.

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