With the holidays behind us, it’s that time of year when you feel full of energy and excitement about what’s about to come.

It’s also a great time to plan ahead to make sure you hit your targets consistently.

To give you a head start, I have compiled a shortlist of the top 5 Kanban articles that more than 15,000 readers voted on in our blog (coincidentally making them some of my favorite articles as well!)

So go ahead, grab a warm mug of your favorite beverage, find a cozy spot, and let’s dive right in.

#5 Scrumban: What Is It and How to Make the Most of It

What does the concept of Scrumban look like and how can you implement it? Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“As its name suggests, Scrumban is a management method that seeks to be the best of both worlds: Kanban and Scrum.”

“Don’t fall into the trap of listing down every single pro and con and getting “analysis paralysis.” The main point here is to understand what each of them has to offer and then flex your systems accordingly to plan, track, and manage your work more efficiently so that you can release better products, faster.”

When it comes to Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban and everything in between, you can’t really go wrong. Perhaps the best way to think of Scrumban is simply as using Kanban on top of a Scrum.

What matters most is that you only adopt practices that make sense in your own context. Don’t get too caught up in whether it’s “Scrum,” “Kanban” or “Scrumban” – focus instead on what works for you, whatever that might look like.

Interested in diving deeper? Here is everything you need to know to implement Scrumban successfully →

#4 The 3 Service Delivery Principles in Kanban

What does it take to achieve significant improvements in your business outcomes? From the article:

“With the Kanban Method, we perceive our businesses as ecosystems of interconnected services.”

“Picture an organization as a network of services, even if they cross different parts of the company. This perception enables each service to grow and change independently based on what our customers really need.”

“So, customer needs and expectations spread throughout the whole company. By focusing on smaller changes in each service we have the potential to achieve tremendous improvements in our business operations.”

Here is a little-known fact about the Kanban Method.

It started back in 2004 in Microsoft’s IT department, but it wasn’t until 2007 when it was implemented at Corbis, Bill Gates’ photography archive and intellectual property rights management business, that its real potential in change management was recognized.

What makes Kanban unique is its focus on evolutionary change. And there are three principles of Kanban service delivery that every agile practitioner should embrace.

Let’s dive into each of these principles and explore them in more detail

#3 How to Set up a Kanban System to Begin Tracking Metrics Effectively (Step-by-Step Guide)

Your Kanban board design is an important part of your continuous improvement strategy. That’s why you want to make the most of it. Here’s an excerpt:

“Let’s explore the structured approach to setting up a Kanban system. It follows five simple, essential steps that, together, ensure you get the most out of your data.”

“As you’re working through these steps, keep in mind this isn’t a sequential approach – it’s iterative. As you go through the steps, you’ll naturally collect more information.”

“When that happens, I encourage you to revisit the previous steps. Ask yourself, “Does anything need to change? Is there anything you’ve uncovered that better informs those previous steps?” That iterative process will make your foundation stronger and ensure clarity and consistency from start to finish.”

One of the most common questions people ask me is “How to make the most of my data?”. And you may think that it’s all about understanding the meaning behind your charts.

The truth is that the data you collect and the insights you can reveal from it strongly depend on how you’ve structured your system design.

In other words, if you haven’t been intentional to put a strong foundation in the first place, you run the risk of losing massive opportunities for improvement.

Let’s explore the 5-step structured approach to creating a Kanban system that will set you up for success in the long run

#2 Getting Started with Kanban Analytics? Do Just This One Thing

So you’ve found our Kanban analytics suite, and you’re excited to use it to improve your workflow, but you have just one big question:

“Where do I start?”

You might wonder if you should start by focusing on how to reduce your cycle time so you can deliver value faster…

Or maybe you should jump straight into forecasting, so you can get a better idea of how to answer your clients’ favorite question, “when will it be done?”…

From the article:

“In the very beginning, the only thing you need to do is track and manage your WIP average age.”

”That’s it.”

”It really is that simple.”

In this article, I’ll give you a very simple strategy to get started with Kanban Analytics that will not only put you in motion from the get-go but everything else (literally!) will start flowing from that.

Let’s explore how this approach will enable you to improve your delivery speed without even striving for it

#1 The 5-Step Guideline for Managing Items of Different Sizes in Kanban

“Kanban doesn’t work for us because we don’t have items of the same size” – If I had a dollar for every time I heard this statement, I could afford to spend my time laying on the beach in the Maldives all day long, all year round!

Fact is, this is one of the most common misconceptions I come across. Here’s a sneak peek from the article:

“The answer will simply look something like this, “We’ll be done in less than 10 days and we are 85% certain we’ll hit that target“. And this commitment will be valid for any type of work.”

“Now, I can bet I know what you’re thinking! “Sonya, this will only work if we split our items into even sizes!”. No, it won’t. And here is why.”

“Did I say the effort needed to finish any type of work must be exactly 10 days? No, I didn’t. Always remember, effort time and delivery time are not the same things.”

“Did I say that we’ll deliver any task in exactly 10 days? No, I didn’t.”

“What I said is that we’ll deliver the work in less than 10 days. Most probably we’ll be done earlier but it won’t take us more than 10 days and there is an 85% probability that we can achieve our goal.”

I’ve been thinking about how this Kanban myth actually came to be. And I believe that it is rooted in the fact that in Kanban, we use throughput to determine the end dates of our projects, or decide how much work to commit to in our next releases.

When we define throughput, we refer to the number of completed work items for a period of time, regardless of their nature, size or complexity. So, people assume that those tickets need to be of the same size to make this work.

You don’t have to split your items into even pieces in order to come up with an accurate delivery forecast.

Forecasts don’t produce a single certain delivery date, they come with a range of outcomes and the probabilities of achieving each of them. From there, it is up to you to decide what level of confidence you’d like to manage and this approach certainly doesn’t depend on the size of the work.

And here is the 5-step guideline that demonstrates how this works

I have to tell you, even though we addressed the most pressing challenges people stumble upon, we just scratched the surface here.

If you’re ready to take it a step beyond that, now is the perfect time to check out our Sustainable Predictability program. This course will show you exactly how to manage your workflow so that you get predictable results that enable you to deliver your work on time, every time.

Better yet, you can check it out with no obligations – you can get a sneak peek of the first module free for 7 days, to make sure it’s right for you.

I hope these insights inspired and motivated you to dig deeper into your management practices and set yourself for success to meet your goals in 2024. If you know a fellow manager who would also find this article helpful, please share it with them on your favorite social media platform.

I’ll see you next week, same time, same place!

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