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My Personal Kanban Story

A little over a month ago, Agile Zen started following me on Twitter.  They are creators of a very clean web-based kanban solution.  Around the same time, I connected with Jim Benson.  Jim is a collaborative management consultant.  He is the CEO of Modus Cooperandi, a consultancy which combines Lean, Agile Management and Social Media principles to develop sustainable teams.

Personal Kanban

Though I’ve used information radiators like kanbans in the past, I’ve been working in a non-Agile PMO for the last six months and it’s all very foreign to them.  Thanks to reading the works of David Anderson, Jim Benson, and AgileZen, I’m back in the game.  I’m using AgileZen on a daily basis for everything from business deliverables, to an entrepreneurial project, to my wife’s honey-do list.

My actual task completion velocity has noticeably increased in the last month.  I attribute that to AgileZen having a very easy to use product, Jim musing on a daily basis on the topic, and most importantly limiting what I’m working or focused on.

You can read one of Jim’s recent postings [here] You can check out AgileZen [here]

I wish I could thank all of the kanban supporters out there that I follow on a daily basis.  These 3 really have to be mentioned.  If you’re interested in Kanban, look them up.

About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of ALM Platforms at LeadingAgile. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon). Novice angel investor.

12 Responses to “My Personal Kanban Story”

  1. August 18, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Awesome Derek,

    are the colors a function of types of tasks or different projects?

  2. August 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Awesome Derek,

    are the colors a function of types of tasks or different projects?

  3. Derek
    August 19, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Jim, they are actually different projects. It’s really my summary kanban.
    Green = start-up effort
    Orange = client 1 tasks
    Blue = book I’m working on
    Purple = blog post ideas
    Yellow = client 2 tasks
    Gray = wife honey-do tasks

    I used to use a Product Backlog (Agile Scrum) list but the visual queues of the kanban are much more effective.

    Thanks for the feedback!
    Derek

  4. topsurf
    August 19, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    This is awesome. I began following Jim’s series on Personal Kanban and it has literally turned my work day around 190 degrees. It has now spilled over into my personal life as well. I love seeing how others work Personal Kanban, thanks for sharing.

  5. topsurf
    August 19, 2009 at 8:56 am

    This is awesome. I began following Jim’s series on Personal Kanban and it has literally turned my work day around 190 degrees. It has now spilled over into my personal life as well. I love seeing how others work Personal Kanban, thanks for sharing.

  6. August 19, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I like the “focus” column. What did you think of the priority filter idea? It seems that with that many work source types you may need to visualize more of your backlog.

    And I love the fact that “macro for excel” is a honey-do.

  7. August 19, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I like the “focus” column. What did you think of the priority filter idea? It seems that with that many work source types you may need to visualize more of your backlog.

    And I love the fact that “macro for excel” is a honey-do.

  8. Derek
    August 19, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    I love the priority filter. One of my greatest weaknesses is knowing the tasks with greatest priority and then limit what I’m working or focusing on. Until the task is vetted, I keep it out of sight on the Backlog and not on the Ready list. Unfortunately, I’m either going to add another column to split out Ready tasks or I’m going to add a task limit of 10. Prioritized or not, I think anything longer then 10 is too long. The colors are critical for me to locate and ID project tasks at a glance.

    Yes, with a geeky wife, macro for excel was on the list. Now, if we could only view the kanban from a touchscreen tv in the kitchen… Will add as a task later.

  9. Derek
    August 19, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I love the priority filter. One of my greatest weaknesses is knowing the tasks with greatest priority and then limit what I’m working or focusing on. Until the task is vetted, I keep it out of sight on the Backlog and not on the Ready list. Unfortunately, I’m either going to add another column to split out Ready tasks or I’m going to add a task limit of 10. Prioritized or not, I think anything longer then 10 is too long. The colors are critical for me to locate and ID project tasks at a glance.

    Yes, with a geeky wife, macro for excel was on the list. Now, if we could only view the kanban from a touchscreen tv in the kitchen… Will add as a task later.

  10. August 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    So, you have got it kinda manual to-do list board. We do something like this on all work stations, I mean the employees use sticky notes to make the to-do lists. But ultimately I believe a tool is much better than manual Kanban.

    • derekhuether
      August 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      Though I appreciate your comment, I don’t agree with you.  If you’re trying to coordinate shared work across distributed (dis-located) teams, certainly you may have to rely on a tool.  But, I still prefer a physical Kanban.  I like that the physical board communicates a wealth of information between co-located team members without a single word spoken.  A tool requires explicit action.

      Being you’re selling Project Tracking Software, I can see you would favor the tool.  My focus is not to sell more software.  My focus is to help teams deliver value.  I will side with individuals and interactions over process and tools any day of the week.

      • August 8, 2012 at 11:27 am

         Thanks for your response. I do agree the fact that Physical Kanban is a kind of team building activity, as you mentioned there wouldn’t be much words, but a kind of scrap card method. Actually I am not favoring something, but just believe tools does organize us better and moreover alerts whenever planned.

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