Design the Kanban System

This is a series of posts from the main topic STATIK (Systems Thinking Approach to Introduce Kanban) wich it’s an exploratory and collaborative approach to implement Kanban. It helps to understand the current demand and dynamics, to design and implement a Kanban work model that allows increasing the efficiency and quality of the service through the culture and techniques of continuous improvement.

Statik Steps

As an iterative approach, STATIK suggests you go through the following steps.

For each identified service:

  1. Understand what makes the business fit for purpose
  2. Understand sources of dissatisfaction
  3. Analyze the source and nature of demand
  4. Analyze current delivery capability
  5. Model the service delivery workflow
  6. Identify and define classes of service
  7. Design the Kanban system
  8. Socialize design & negotiate implementation

Modeling your Kanban System

The moment we’ve all been waiting for! It’s time to put together the system learning and vision acquired over the previous sessions and model the Kanban system.

  • The main steps of the workflow tend to fall into columns here.
  • Activities in progress tend to already be categorized in types of demand.
  • Services classes tend to become rows (swim-lanes) on your board.
  • The metrics collected can form the basis for defining WIP limits.
Example of a Kanban System

At this point, it’s useful to have a checklist of the elements likely to be included, for example:

Kanban Board

A Kaban board is a work and workflow visualization tool that enables you to optimize the flow.

Physical Kanban boards, typically use sticky notes on a whiteboard to communicate status, progress, and issues.

Example of a Kaban Board
Online Kanban boards draw upon the whiteboard metaphor in a software setting.

Kanban Card

The core functionality of a Kanban card is to visually convey a work item’s progress as it flows through a system or process.

The face of a Kanban card presents details that are relevant to the team, such as:

  • A unique identifier or title
  • A brief description of the work
  • A rough estimate of the size of the work
  • Who’s been assigned to it
Kaban card example
Face of a sample Kanban card.

Kanban System

Here is an overview of the five steps you’ll want to take in order to implement a lasting and effective Kanban system

  • Map your current workflow
  • Visualize your work
  • Focus on flow
  • Limit your WIP
  • Measure and improve
Kanban System example.

Remember your first version of your Kanban System should reflect the actual process not the desired. So, there’s no template or default design to adapt to. Instead you’ll create a system that adapts to your reality and context and then start improving your system.

Scaling Kanban?

If you need to bring the benefits of Kanban beyond a team maybe you’re thinking if you could implement Kanban at scale (today we have many Agile Scaling Frameworks as SAFe, LeSS, Nexus, Scrum@Scale). Well, scalability is an inherent part of Kanban and therefore one cannot not scale Kanban. Scaling in a Kanban context means: Doing more Kanban. This can be done in two directions: in depth and in breadth.

Here you are a few examples of above aproaches:

Width-wise growth example

Widh-wise growth Kanban System example
Width-wise growth example. This board also shows the use of minimum and maximum WIP limits.

Height-wise growth example

Height-wise growth Kanban System example
Height-wise growth example.

Depth-wise growth example

Depth-wise growth Kanban System example
Depth-wise growth example.

A Wider/Deeper example

Upstream Kanban
Upstream + Downstream Kanban example

There’s a short and free Essential Upstream Kanban ebook in the Kanban University resources.

A Kanban board design of their first Kanban System.

“A system is never the sum of its parts”. It’s the product of the interaction of its parts”

Next STATIK’s step is Socialize design & negotiate implementation. Or review the previous step, Identify and define classes of service.




{ᴀɢɪʟᴇ ᴄᴏᴀᴄʜ · ICP-ACC® · CSM® · KPM® & ᴀɢɪʟᴇ-ʟᴇᴀɴ ᴇɴᴛʜᴜsɪᴀsᴛ} #agile #lean #scrum #kanban #sociocracy #facilitation #coaching #leanchange #transformation

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Talking to Kargo’s Principal Infrastructure Engineer

Android app Development for Startups & Business in Sydney — Beedev Solutions

Deploy a Serverless Maker Bot on AirSwap (Part 2)

3 reasons to adopt Event Sourcing

GSoC 2019 with LibreOffice: Implement Chart Styles

When to Pair Project and User Management Software

Fun (and Useful) Tools to Empower Your First CLI App

Case Study Library Management System Analysis Design Methods

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
H. Javier Castillo S.

H. Javier Castillo S.

{ᴀɢɪʟᴇ ᴄᴏᴀᴄʜ · ICP-ACC® · CSM® · KPM® & ᴀɢɪʟᴇ-ʟᴇᴀɴ ᴇɴᴛʜᴜsɪᴀsᴛ} #agile #lean #scrum #kanban #sociocracy #facilitation #coaching #leanchange #transformation

More from Medium

Scrum 101: Overview and Example

The Missed Opportunity of Testing

Experian Creator- Kathy Stuhr

Agile Scrum Roles: What Is the Role of the Development Team?