Sunday, December 6, 2009

Personal Kanban Board

Are you having a hard time with interruptions in your every day work? Do interruptions and priority changes make you feel like you can’t keep everything straight and seem to never get anything done? I know how you feel. I’ve been in that position many times and what I’m discovering is that lean/agile principles can help on a personal, not just a team level. I’ve been using a personal kanban board for a few months now and can say emphatically that it works!

Here’s what I mean by a personal scrum board. I have a whiteboard in my office divided into columns: backlog, staged, in process, ready for review, done. I keep track of all of my work on sticky pads very much in the same way as story cards. I also give each task a priority based on customer value. Work moves from column to column, eventually into the done column. I purposely keep work in process to one or two items and when a higher priority items pops up, it gets moved into the top of the staging column.

All of this seems like simply making a list and executing the list. That’s true, but the real power of the board is the agile processes that I can pull into my personal work. The board gives me plenty of visibility to those who work with me. I also have a morning daily planning session (by myself) before I begin work. I make sure that if anything that doesn’t flow through the board in a couple of days is evaluated to see why is it stopping up the flow. I also keep an impediment list that everyone coming into my office sees – my manager is responsible for helping with the impediment list.

If you’d like to try a personal kanban board, there’s information on the net for determining how kanban works. I’d encourage you to investigate and try it. Corey Ladis has a lot of information on:

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