Some thoughts after Lean Kanban North America 2016

· May 19, 2016

I’m writing this post in a small crappy hotel room that will be my home for a few days. It’s quite the change after being station at the nice, beach-side hotel where Lean Kanban North America 2016 was held.

I was very honoured to take part in this event - first time for me at Lean Kanban Inc. conference (I think… ) and it was really something special.

I wanted to jot down a few thoughts and comments.

Thank you

Since I was both a speaker and an attendee I got to experience the full features of the conference and I have to say that it was brilliantly organised. Thought out the two days + workshop day I didn’t see or experience a single glitch and hiccup.

The Lean Kanban team really knows their stuff. I wonder what kind of methodology for organising things like this they use?

Thank you so much for this great event!


One thing that I’m often surprised by after attending a conference is how a theme (or two) appear out of all the presentations, but foremost the conversations you have. Often a theme that is not announced for the conference, like an unofficial agenda. Lean Kanban North America 2016 was no exception.

Throughout the two days there was a few themes, new and old, that at least I had conversations about.

David Anderssons keynote was about the concept of anti-fragility and creating robust, resilient and anti-fragile organisations. I’ve read some of his blog posts on this and I think this not only is a really interesting topic but also a worthy goal. The first basic service any organisation can supply is to still be around, right? But to do that over time you very often need to adapt to new situations and needs. Sometimes, as shown in David’s talk, you might need to abandon you original reason-to-be and become something new. IBM was a very interesting example of that (nowadays, out of PC, out of mainframe etc). This is was a anti fragile organisation can do.

This touches nicely on another idea that is very strong in the kanban community; metrics and models. I’m not personally strong in this, I realised after these days, but it’s a strong trend to measure and track your progress and drive your improvements using models, not only the scientific method.

But where then? What is better? HA - funny you should ask. I don’t think i was in a single conversation that didn’t end up talking about Why. Why are we doing this? How can we be more crisp in our communication of our purpose and making sure that everyone in the organisation, or team even, pulls towards the same goal. I think metrics play a vital role here, but you have to use that tool with care since you “might just get what you measure”.

I attended an excellent work shop with my good friend Christophe Achouiantz that spoke solely about how to define your purpose and making sure that you progress and improve towards that goal. Get his slides for the workshop from here, powerful stuff:

Chris’ workshop will be the segue way into the next and final theme that kept popping up: service orientation. Me being a developer this has an old school SOA ring to it and I shrugged a bit at first. But after discussing it a bit there’s real power here and it solves a problem I’ve had for a time.

Because most big organisations don’t have products internally - they have services that they supply. Sometimes even externally. And still we try to shoe-horn the concept of products in there; product owner, product backlog, product management etc. When the concept of a service sits much better.

If we now only could organise ourselves around those services we would have a real powerful organisation model. And here kanban has a perfect fit to ensuring flow across services boundaries through the use of WIP limits and a common purpose and goal. I have to read up on this. I like it.

My talk

I told the story about how kanban saved a hospital in Indonesia and you can flip through the slides below:

I was very happy and proud to do so and the reception was overwhelming. Many people came up to me during the days and thank me not only for the talk but also for the inspiring content. Just what I wanted and needed.

I also launched the website for the book during the event and you can should go there now and be part of the beta to get the chapters as I write them.

Use to get there!

I will write a separate post about the state and progress of the book.

Brickell Key

One thing that really was special for me was being a Brickell Key nominee. Considering that the others nominated were people that I looked up to and know have contributed greatly to the body of knowledge of kanban my was very happy being nominated. I had no expectation being the recipient of the award.

And I wasn’t either. But I made me even more happy that the Brickell Key award 2016 went to my good friend, early kanban-journeyman, a great coach and teach and all around nice guy - Christophe Achouiantz. I was truly truly happy for that win.

Well done Chris! And very well deserved!

Larry Maccherone was the other recipient and though the short conversations we had I’ve come to admire his work greatly. Well deserved winner too.


LKNA 2016 was a really great event. I’m so happy I attended and got to meet and learn from interesting and inspiring people.

Thank you everyone.

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