Comments on common board practices - It’s not a kanban board if you don’t have a WIP limit

When kanban first came into common use and practice it was often posed as an alternative to Scrum. Well, as Torbjörn Gyllebring told us many years ago, kanban is not your process. Kanban is a process improvement tool and works on whatever process you apply it to. It’s one of the powers of the tool and the reason I like kanban so much.

However, for many early adopters of kanban, removing the cermonies of Scrum sometimes went overboard and we removed everything that constrained us and made us make tradeoffs. Kanban - love it! No planning, no sprints, no constraints - it’s just our board and work flows as fast as it flows… Nice!

Well - it’s not really a kanban board if you don’t have a work in process limit. Let me explain a bit further.

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Comments on common board practices - Colours speaks volumes. Use colours wisely

One of the things that always catches my attention when I walk past a board is the colours of the stickies. Why? Because colours requests our attention and can help us in understanding more about a thing. Red is naturally a warning (in western culture at least), green feels ok, etc.

This is why I get troubled when I hear that the reason that we have chosen the colours of the stickies on our board is “because we took the ones that was closest to us”.

That is sad and I share a few thoughts on how to improve on that state of mind - it’s easy.

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Comments on common board practices - Done? There is no Done

This comment is closely related to the comment about columns. In this post I’m more specifically want to talk about the “Done”-column. The last column on most boards. I’m on a crusade to rename Done all over the world.

Let’s do it! Done-column - you’re going down!

Done - what is that?

I claim that there is not “Done”-column. This is something that grown on me over the...

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Comments on common board practices - Todo/Doing/Done is not your process

Ok, got a few encouraging comments on the first post so I’ll continue this series. If for nothing else it’s keeping to my orignal blog-idea to write things down to clear it up for me and not forget about it.

This time I wanted to talk about the column themselves, or maybe I dare to talk about the process they reflect. Our process for work!

Todo - doing...

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Comments on common board practices - blocked should not be a column

It’s very interesting to see how a practice goes from a nice idea to best practice and over to tradition. In my community, the software industry, things move very fast so I’ve seen many examples of this; simple things like formatting of code, background colors of editor all the way to architectural patterns - all of these become default usages and tradition, and sometime “the way it’s done”. Sometimes people calls it cargo cult which refers to that I often do things without really reflecting over why.

When it comes to my field of practice; lean and agile there’s bountyful examples of cargo culting, but in this series of post I wanted to examine a few very practical things that I often notices on how agile team uses their boards.

It will be a little hit-list of my pet issues commonly found on agile/kanban-boards I’ve seen.


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An idea for visualising scope creep

Scope creep is a common phenomenon in software development where the size and workload increases beyond what we first envisioned. In many cases this is so small that it happens without anyone really noticing but sometimes it can degenerate and slow down progress considerably. Sometimes even stopping a progress or team completely.

Scope creep comes from many sources, sometimes from the outside, but I think that the most common one are ourselves:

That value should probably be a configuration property…

What if someone decides to change database server…

This is of course good questions to ask and could be value, but I think there’s more value in getting a feature in front of users and learn about their behavior and how the feature is doing. After that we can harden it, make it more flexible or otherwise improve it.

Drifting away from my main topic… So now...

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Some roles I take on - and what they are

The other day I heard someone distinguish between a few roles that I take on from time to other. I’ve never made the different between those roles clear to myself and as a consequence I end up doing them all at the same time, in my consulting.

This can sometimes be confusing for me, and my clients but makes me also ineffective in the role I’m trying - or is expected to play. I actually wrote about this in a post a few years ago - without really knowing what kind of problem I was addressing.

In this post I wanted to share a few thoughts on these different roles and hopefully

Without saying each of the following headings could easily fill books. I’m just jotting down my current understanding of the concepts here, that helps me to clarify it for myself. If you find it useful...

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Some thoughts after running the marshmallow challenge with kids

Sometimes I get the opportunity to try things that I never done before, or didn’t think that I would dare. Do those things if you get the chance. Always do them! I never regretted taking one of those opportunities, after they are over.

In this case I got the opportunity to talk with a bunch of school kids (14-16 year olds) about Lean, experimenting and how to iterate ever faster by improving your process. It was quite the experience and I wanted to share some highlights of the time I had together with them.


I have a friend, Tristessa, that is a teacher in an international school in Stockholm. She’s a brilliant horn-player and we play in the same band. One day in our rehearsal she told me about a course about Product Design that she was running in her class (SO COOL) and her students...

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3 success factors for a big room planning

A few months back I blogged about the practice of big room planning made famous by SAFe (™) through their Product Increment planning session.

For the record I still think it’s a great event and every time we have run it we have come out the other end in a more aligned, enlightened and excited state than when we went in. And for the record I still think it’s just a phase in our process improvement that we should move away from, in a suitable pace.

I’ve been running 3 or 4 big room planning sessions now and I’m starting to see pattern of what bites us the most and what is the foundation of being successful in these session.

In this post I wanted to share the top 3-4 (there might be few slipping in there) things that I’ve found paramount in order to have...

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Here people are saying kind things about each others

I’m very proud of my church (or corps as we say in the Salvation Army - the Vasa Corps of Stockholm. The moment I came there I felt right at home and I’m more than happy to, voluntary, spend a lot of my leisure time in the different groups of the church.

About a month ago I heard someone, that is new to our congregation, say something that summarised a lot of the spirit in the church:

Here people are saying kind things about each other

That did not only make me feel very proud and happy, but also signals a culture that holds true for many of the great place I’ve been working in or associated with.

I hope that you have had the opportunity to work in such an environment - it’s amazing. People are saying things like (these are all real...

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