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Technical Debt

The term “technical debt” is widely used in the industry even if there isn’t a clear definition of it and almost nobody uses the term in the way Ward Cunningham meant when he first coined it. It’s most commonly used to describe things in our environment, usually but not always code, that slow us down. These are things that are working - not bugs - but that are implemented in a poor way that makes them more difficult to understand or modify.

Multiple boards for a single team

Many teams assume that they have to fit all their work on to one board and that’s not true. Kanban boards are there to help you visualize and manage the system. If one board can do that well then one board is fine. If it would be easier or better to visualize and manage across multiple boards then that’s what you should do.

Who should define the workflow?

We regularly talk about optimizing the workflow but we don’t talk as often about who should be doing that optimization. Should it be the manager, or some dedicated process specialist, or should we be leaving it up to the team to figure out their own workflow?

One Thing vs Multiple Things

When creating a forecast first ask yourself whether you are forecasting One Thing or Multiple Things. It’s not always clear which of these situations you are in but the approach you take to creating the forecast will differ significantly. This post will help you to figure out which approach to take.

Defining a workflow

The Kanban Guide defines three core practices. The first is “define and visualize a workflow” and while it describes what needs to be in that workflow, it doesn’t give any guidance on how to facilitate as session with a team to do that definition. In this video, I describe how I facilitate a session with teams to define their workflow.

Staying within our WIP limits

In a Kanban model, one thing we find most teams struggle with are WIP limits. Everyone wants to just start one more item even if we’re already at the limit. Surely one more can’t hurt. Except of course, it does.

Improving Predictability - Average Age

In a previous post I’ve introduced the four assumptions behind Little’s Law and discussed the first two assumptions in detail. If you haven’t read those previous posts I encourage you to go back to understand the background. As a reminder, the four assumptions are listed below.

Moving backwards on a kanban board

A question we’re frequently asked is whether items are allowed to move backwards on a board. Many people will just say “no” but the real answer is more nuanced than that and depends on a number of factors.

Improving Predictability - All work must finish

In a previous post I introduced the four assumptions behind Little’s Law and the idea that they are critical to understanding and improving your system’s predictability. We’ve also already discussed the first assumption regarding the equality of average arrival and departure rates. If you haven’t read those previous posts I encourage you to go back to understand the background. As a reminder, the four assumptions are listed below.