Positive Incline Mike Burrows (@asplake) moving on up, positively

April 17, 2015

Kanban from the Inside: 10. Patterns and Agendas

Filed under: Books,Kanban,Values — Tags: , , , — Mike @ 3:07 pm

The tenth in a roughly weekly series of short excerpts from my book, Kanban from the Inside. Chapter 10 wraps up Part I, Kanban through its values.


Does Kanban in some neutral way just create the conditions for change, or does it come with its own biases? Do the method, its practitioners, and their host organizations need direction—in the form, perhaps, of an external true north (Chapter 14, Lean)—or will they steer themselves? As a community, we’ve considered these questions several times.

By now you’ve seen enough of Kanban that you won’t be surprised to find that the answers turn out to be rather inclusive:

  • Yes, Kanban creates the conditions for change—in fact, developing the organization’s capability for change is one of its main objectives.
  • Yes, whether expressed as a “true north” or an evolutionary “fitness function,” it’s important to have measures of success.
  • Yes, not only does Kanban have some built-in biases, it’s helpful to make them explicit.

There is one “no” implied by that list of yeses: No, Kanban is not neutral. Today this seems obvious: How could something so intertwined with values—where, for the most part, “more is better”—ever be described as neutral?


Next up: 11. Systems Thinking, Complexity, and the Learning Organization. Previously: 9. Respect. Start from the beginning: 1. Transparency.

December 17, 2013

Kanban’s agendas on video, renamed

Filed under: Kanban — Tags: , , , — Mike @ 12:42 pm

Over the weekend between the LKUK13 and LKCE13 conferences I reworked the three agendas into my “Kanban through its values” talk. It’s now available on video (below).

NB: As described here by David, we’ve since renamed them – they’re now the sustainabilityservice orientation, and survivability agendas. I align them to the values as follows:

  • The sustainability agenda builds on the values transparency, balance, and collaboration. It describes a common approach to Kanban adoption at the level of individuals and teams, often motivated by the need for relief from unsustainable practices and workloads.
  • The service orientation agenda brings together the values customer focus, flow, and leadership. Building on the sustainability agenda, the service orientation agenda describes a more outward-looking approach to change.
  • The survivability agenda is the most overtly cultural agenda of the three, and the most ambitious. Its values understanding, agreement, and respect represent commitments and disciplines that support organizational survival strategies based on adaptability.

Watch out for a series of articles on InfoQ expanding on these. The first instalment should be out in early January.

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