Limiting work-in-progress, or WIP, is a core principle of Kanban, and is a common recommendation to teams using Scrum or other frameworks as well. Yet the idea that working on less can lead you to get more done seems to defy common sense. Even those who understand the reasons for limiting WIP can struggle with resistance from team members or leaders when putting the theory to practice. This talk will review the concept of WIP and explore in depth the reasons for limiting WIP: enhancing focus, reducing cycle time, optimizing flow and making bottlenecks visible. We will give strategies for starting out with WIP limits and suggestions for what to do when a limit is reached. Attendees will also participate in a short simulation that will illustrate the concepts in practice, and that attendees can use on their own projects to help overcome skepticism of WIP limits in their organizations.

 
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Outline/Structure of the Talk

Introductions + WIP concept (~6 min)

  • Introductions
  • Intro to WIP
  • Why consider WIP
  • Little’s law

More WIP Theory (~10 min)

  • WIP vs Utilization
  • Examples of high- and low-WIP systems
  • Idle teams, slack time
  • Setting WIP limits

-------------------------------------

Plane Game (~13 min)

  • Instructions
  • Practice round
  • Play (two rounds)
  • Collect metrics and debrief

-------------------------------------

Wrap-Up (~10 min)

  • Key points
  • Questions
  • Additional resources

Learning Outcome

Participants will learn what WIP is, its effect on systems (especially software teams), and how to work with WIP limits. Participants will also play an activity that illustrates the effect of WIP and that they can use to introduce the concepts to others.

Target Audience

Anyone new to, or curious about, Kanban; and anyone on a team that struggles to achieve a consistent flow of completed work

Prerequisites for Attendees

This talk is accessible to Agile practitioners at all levels, but is best for participants that have some experience with Agile and/or Scrum and are looking to take their team to the next level.

schedule Submitted 11 months ago

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