The Framework

Kanban in a Nutshell

  • It creator was Taiichi Ohno who invented while working with Toyota
  • It’s a scheduling system for lean and just-in-time production
  • Kanban from Japanese literally is signboard or billboard
  • Visualize the workflow
    • Write each item on a card and put on the Kanban board
    • Use named columns to illustrate where each item is in  the workflow
    • Split the work into pieces if cards are bigger than 2 days
  • Pick always the first card with higher priority on the Kanban board
  • Limit Work In Progress (WIP) – assign explicit limits to how many items may be in progress at each workflow state

Cards that should go on the Kanban Board

  • Incidents, Requests, Changes, Problems, Team Internal Tasks
  • Estimated by the team taking into account the Definition of Done
  • Clear steps on what is needed to be done
  • Effort Not bigger than couple of days to help with estimation
  • Keep it simple and avoid gold plating


The Kanban Board shows some of the following:

  • Who is working on what and what is coming up
  • Options for upcoming work and where the bottlenecks are
  • How the team feels and the status of any task
  • See when someone is struggling with an item
  • Task completion times and details of task handoffs
  • Sense of flow and job is getting done

The Kanban Board informs some of the following:

  • Lead time and cycle time so over time estimates can be refined
  • Prioritization of what needs to be done
  • Identification of training opportunities
  • Who is handling which tickets
  • Complexity level of tasks; which tasks are continually under/overestimated
  • Team mood

Watch the video below to see what happens when priorities are not clear, teams are being constantly interrupted  and working on many things at the same time. 

There is a sense of a lot going on but nothing being finished.

Theory of Constraints and Optimised Flow