Forget about Kanban
October 19, 2010
Let’s forget about Kanban. Just for a little while. Kanban is a great tool but once again we’ve (myself included) gotten carried away and started peddling a tool instead of focusing on the problems it is supposed to address. Five minutes after hearing about this great new process [sic], customers start asking for software tools to support it. The Kanban board is up on the wall with cool magnets and custom name tags before any process has been mapped. Consultants as well as customers are eager to sell and buy, afraid to miss the Kanban-train. This is a recipe for disaster.
So can we please forget about Kanban for a while and talk about the problems we want to solve instead?
Let’s talk about what we pay for our inventories in the form of work items residing in queues.
Let’s talk about what we pay for the delayed feedback due to work items not moving through our process.
Let’s talk about how our quality suffers from work items sitting in queues.
Maybe we could talk about how job satisfaction goes down due to developers not being allowed/able to move their jobs to a DONE-state.
We could even talk about team members suffering from stress because work is being pushed to them.
We could also discuss how the organization suffers from the increased costs and risks stemming from the extra overhead and long cycle times that are the results of working with large batches.
We could talk about how the old processes have gone into rigor mortis due to a lack of double loop learning.
There are so many interesting things we could talk about if we could just forget about Kanban for a little while. After we’ve taken a look at all those problems, I promise you that we can start talking about Kanban again. There’s even a slight possibility that Kanban could help us solve some of our problems. But for now, let’s just forget about Kanban.