Kanban is a method for managing knowledge work with an emphasis on
just-in-time delivery while not overloading the team members. In this approach, the process, from definition of a task to its delivery to the customer, is displayed for participants to see, team members pull work from a queue.
In the context of software development can mean a visual process-management system that tells what to produce, when to produce it, and how much to produce – inspired by the Toyota Production System and by Lean manufacturing.
Kanban Method is as an approach to incremental, evolutionary process and systems change for organizations. It uses a work-in-progress limited pull system as the core mechanism to expose system operation (or process) problems and stimulate collaboration to continuously improve the system. Visualisation is an important aspect of Kanban as it allows to understand the work and the workflow.
The Kanban Method is rooted in four basic principles:
- Start with existing process
The Kanban method does not prescribe a specific set of roles or process steps. The method starts with existing roles and processes and stimulates continuous, incremental and evolutionary changes to the system. This a change management method.
- Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change
The team must agree that continuous, incremental and evolutionary change is the way to make system improvements and make them stick. Sweeping changes may seem more effective but have a higher failure rate due to resistance and fear of the change in the team.
- Respect the current process, roles, responsibilities and titles
It is likely that the team currently has some elements that work acceptably and are worth preserving. The Kanban method seeks to drive out fear in order to facilitate future change. It attempts to eliminate initial fears by agreeing to respect current roles, responsibilities and job titles with the goal of gaining broader support.
- Leadership at all levels
Acts of leadership at all levels in the organization, from individual contributors to senior management, are encouraged.