Kanban-inizing the Avega Group office–getting the show on the road

· September 19, 2011

This is the second post in a small series on how we helped some parts of the Avega Group office to use Kanban to manage their workflow. In the first post we introduced the teams that we coached to a foundations for why you want to limit your work-in-process, what benefits that could give them and some key elements of Kanban and Lean. As a final exercise we helped them to create a simple Kanban board for each team. We stressed the fact that the boards not is complete (at any time!) but should change and this is just a suggestion. Together with the teams we created a simple board, containing the following columns and policies:

  • Inbox – their to do list for a horizon that feel comfortable. We didn’t limit the number of items here, but suggested that they may think about that. Also we told them that the size of the items here could vary. When the move it into the next column the work items is broken down into smaller tasks
  • Today – the items that is due today. We suggested that they should be between 0-8 hours in size and a work in process limit of max 6 per person.
  • Doing – the current work going on. We told them to create 2 avatars each and used that as WIP-limit for this column.
    • This column has a sub column of Waiting for stuff that is waiting for someone or something that hinder the progress
  • Done – stuff they finished. We suggested that they keep the stickies around until the end of each week , grouped by day. And then to hold a retrospective based on the outcome of the week. What worked? What felt great/bad? We offered our services for the first retrospectives.

And with that we let them loose…

First steps and hits

The next morning we found this in one room: IMG_1334 and saw this meeting taking place in another place at the office: IMG_1333 They were up and running. The first few days we got comment like these:

  • “Hmmm – why is 4 stickies in waiting? Maybe I can take one of them”
  • “Creating avatars was to much fun – we created 4 each “(Breaking the WIP-limit on doing with 100% (writers note))
  • “So nice to don’t have to hold all these task in my head”
  • “This made communication around the work easier and more concrete”
  • “Others will see how much we do. And have done – Ha ha!”

And finally a small episode that Morgan oversaw/heard: As one of the teams was hold a morning meeting two “clients” to the team approached them. One of them saw that they were holding a morning meeting and went away, saying “I’ll be back later then”. The other one didn’t catch that and stood around. Stomping his feet. The team persevered and continued through their meeting. Well done - team!

The road forward

As for now – we have asked the teams to grab any of the Lean/Agile coaches for any questions and at least invite one of us to their Friday retrospectives. That’s not much coaching but we trust them to learn by doing. Also other teams on the Avega Group office has shown interest in us helping them in a similar fashion… Lean for the win! I’ll try to post the rest of our story here.


Although we might have helped these teams and their working environment, I think the greatest learning experience was for myself and Morgan. If you are doing Kanban at your software project – take a look around and find other areas that can use the same techniques. You’ll get a deeper understanding of the underlying principles I promise

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