Kanban boards and their practices are powerful tools used to visualize the flow of work both Lean and Agile methods. As a pull based system, the practice of "walking the board" and pulling work into later stages is central to Kanban. Many aspects of Kanban feel intuitive to new learners because it fits with previous experience. The right-to-left pull in Kanban is at odds with our cultural bias favoring left-to-right progress, which intuitively feels backwards. When this bias isn't overcome, the result is pushing rather than pulling work and starting rather than finishing. Discuss ways to help others address this bias in order to stop starting and start finishing.


Outline/Structure of the Lightning Talk

  • Quick background - Kanban boards in 1 minute:
    • Each step has a WIP (Work In Progress) limit
    • Work is pulled from left to right by the following step
    • Walking the board: update the board from right to left
  • Premise - Most beginners walk the board left to right, pushing work.
  • Hypothesis - Why might that be? [1-2 minutes]
    • In most cultures top left is "the start", bottom right is "the end", just like you read.
    • Steps are typically arranged left to right (with bias)
    • Board walking is right to left (against bias)
  • What might lead to better overcomes? [7-8 minutes]
    • Interactive Discussion / Experiments Run
      • Instructional game technique: Push vs Pull Race
      • Execution technique: Arrange the board Done, Doing, Start

Learning Outcome

Implicit Learning

  • Importance of bias identification in adult learning

Explicit Learning

  • Reading direction creates a deeply ingrained bias of start and finish direction
  • Kanban includes both left to right and right to left directionality
  • Instructional game technique: Push vs Pull Race (handout available)
  • Execution technique: Arrange the board Done, Doing, Start

Target Audience

Kanban facilitators: Coaches, Scrum Masters, RTEs

schedule Submitted 1 year ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • George Dinwiddie
    By George Dinwiddie  ~  1 year ago
    reply Reply

    Hi, Scott,

    Who do you want in your session, and what do you want them to learn from it? Do you think they'll recognize the value they'll receive from reading this abstract? What will make them want to approach their kanban boards differently? (Hint, I don't think that telling them "you're doing it wrong" will attract them.)

    The abstract is the place where you sell your session to the right prospective attendees. Help them recognize themselves and their situation, and tell them what benefits they'll get by attending. Give them enough information about the content to convince them that they'll get that benefit.

    I get that working the board from the output might be more in line with the concept of pulling. What message, though, are you trying to communicate?

    The outline/structure is the place where you sell your session to the reviewers. I get that this is just a lightning talk, but we'd still like to know the key learning.

    See also https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1028714041349263360.html for an independent description of submitting a successful proposal.

    - George, AgileDC Program Chair

    • Scott Potter
      By Scott Potter  ~  1 year ago
      reply Reply

      Thank you, George.  Great comments, this helps me to understand the division of attendee / reviewers.  I've incorporated your feedback.