Over a year ago now — Feb 25th 2008 to be exact — I wrote this draft article.
At the time Kanban development was a cool new thing — bleeding edge Agile. Due to a series of unfortunate events the article wasn’t published in the magazine it was originally target for. I’ve been sitting on it for quite some time, so it’s time to open-source it.
Recently I’ve been seeing lots more about Kanban development in discussion groups, articles, and at conferences. The surprising thing for me is that many smart Agile people — people I know to be intelligent insightful people seem bugged by Kanban — seem to see it as threat to Agile thinking. Others see it as using new trendy words to describe best practices we already understand. Basically, I keep running into a lot of grumpy agilistas and a few Kanban fanatics. And, the reason I think this is weird, is that I’m seeing Agile people behave as strangely about Kanban as traditional process folks behaved about Agile. They seem threatened. They see Kanban as a fad.
For me I find great value in Lean and Kanban thinking. I do use Kanban ideas in all the Agile teams I coach. And, I do use strict Kanban, WIP limits and all, with a couple teams. No one’s been hurt by it yet. And if it was the rebranding of already known best practice, possibly I was too dense to get it before hearing it clearly described in the Kanban metaphor.
Great thanks goes to Aaron Sanders and Joe Arnold who helped me write this article over a year ago — back when I had high hopes of breaking the story. Great thanks goes to Karl Scotland who apologetically described to me what his team was doing back in 2007 — apologetic because he wasn’t using time-boxes as was seen to be the “right” way to do agile.
Today I’m hoping this long-ish article helps clear up some misconceptions for a few folks, and simplify it for those scratching their heads about it. As with many of my blog essays, feel free to skim by just reading the section headings. You’ll get the idea.