Thursday, June 18, 2009
Kanban Blogosphere Roundup June 18th
Today’s roundup of all things Kanban includes a few articles from a month or two ago that I missed, but first I want to start with something brand new posted today.
Mike Jones at About Agility blog, has been asking “What Can We Learn from Kanban?” He’s only been researching and his main knowledge seems to come from Jeff Patton’s excellent introductory article, Kanban Development Oversimplified. It’s worth noting the use of the word “oversimplified” in Jeff’s title. He’s implying it isn’t the full story. So Mike goes on to re-iterate a couple of concerns others have expressed. This is perhaps because he read an oversimplified article that didn’t address these issues.
(1) Kanban’s lack of iterations is bad. He states that Kanban doesn’t allow an iterative approach which is wrong. You can readily iterate on design and implementation with Kanban. He then goes on to imply that Kanban doesn’t allow you to sync at regular intervals with the business which is just plain wrong. He clearly hasn’t understood the concept of the prioritization cadence and the release cadence. You get all the benefit of time-boxed iterations with none of the drawbacks.
(2) No commitment to deliver. This is a subtle point in Kanban. Kanban strikes a different kind of bargain with the business. There is a commitment to deliver and deliver regularly. However, classes of service are used to control the rules around delivery of specific items and the release commitment is late binding - typically 3 to 5 days prior to a release, no earlier. Kanban also includes a commitment to continuous improvement targeting shorter cycle times, better due date performance and lower variability generally.
(3) Writing Larger Stories. This one is interesting. The main theme of Kanban is “start with what you do now” and don’t change your process, just add WIP limits, re-arrange the prioritization and release coordination, visualize and pull. However, some element of the Kanban community, mostly from London, introduced the idea of an MMF (the reference is usually the Denne & Cleland Huang book, Software By Numbers) but the original Kanban introduction was by Chris Matts then at RBS in London. They using the term MMF but not using the Denne-Cleland Huang definition. However, I never adopted the technique and MMF will not appear in the Kanban book. Nevertheless Mike’s concern is genuine but again misguided. MMF is not about writing larger stories but recognizing groups of stories that represent a minimum level of delivery to be meaningful from a marketing or delivery functionality perspective.
Overnight Rob Hathaway enabled the Discussion Forums feature at Limited WIP Society. Practitioner to Practitioner discussion is being moved away from Kanbandev Yahoo! group to this new community hub. The Kanbandev group had become unusable as the signal to noise ratio had reach about 1:10. If you have questions about Kanban and would like a genuinely practicing experienced Kanban community person to respond, do visit and join.
Silver Stripe Blog asks “What does a Work In Progress Limit Mean?” And goes on to demonstrate how to do it with the Silver Catalyst tool. Yet another Kanban tool coming to market. I think that makes 7 now but maybe I’ve lost count.
Now for some older stuff…
Margaret Rouse has this piece on Kanban - a way to visualize bottlenecks in your software development projects. There really isn’t much Kanban content in Margaret’s observations. She could have written this article in 2003 based on my Agile Management book. The only thing the book didn’t include was the card wall visualization technique.
Pascal Van Cawenberghe asks Why Estimate? and examines whether estimation is required due to a lack of trust in the organization. His conclusion is that high levels of trust are necessary but not sufficient to eliminate estimation. I have to agree with him. There are still some types of work that need estimation. That’s why we design a class of service around them and do estimates, but only for items in this class of service. Technorati tag: David+Anderson, Agile+Management, Agile, Lean, Kanban, Software+Engineering, Project+Management