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Practical Kanban

Welcome to Practical Kanban – The Website. Here you will find additional material that complements the content in the book. Along with videos and a collection of articles, you will also find tools to help you transfer what you have learned into practice. The materials and links are organized by topic in the individual chapters:

1. Why do we use Kanban?
2. Using and Improving Kanban Systems
3. Large-scale Kanban
4. Forecasting
5. From Prioritization to Risk Assessment

If you would like to be kept up to date with new content and happenings about Kanban, simply sign up for our newsletter or visit Klaus Leopold’s blog. Checking this page now and again is also a good idea, as content is expanded and updated.

  • From day one I've loved Klaus' style and approach to teaching and applying Kanban, it's pragmatic, easy to digest, and inspirational. Drawing on his wealth of experience, and sense of humor, you're guaranteed to learn a lot and enjoying it.

    Cliff Hazell, Agile Coach Chapter Lead, Spotify, Stockholm, Sweden
  • This book delivers on its name! Numerous practical examples of implementation, answers to questions about scaling Kanban and dealing with predictability, complemented by a solid presentation of the fundamentals makes this book a must-have for people who want to successfully implement and improve Kanban in their organization!

    Katrin Schwendner, Project Leader Efficiency Improvement, Bosch Limited, Bangalore
  • Impressed! Finally, a book that I have long been hoping for—written by a practitioner for practitioners. The book is a must for every Kanban practitioner who understands the big picture for Kanban and continuously strives to drive value creation within the company to unprecedented levels.

    Christian Biegler, Kanban Practitioner, Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Vienna, Austria
  • This book can only lead to one conclusion: Kanban is practical. Klaus Leopold understands, better than almost any other, how to convey the essential aspects of Kanban with practical applications in a lively and descriptive way. As a self-proclaimed Kanban evangelist and implementer in my organization, I make no secret of my enthusiasm for this book. It clarifies, gives answers and encourages you to explore the topics further.

    Anton Spitzer, Principle Department Manager of Infrastructure Services, Porsche Informatik GmbH, Salzburg, Austria
  • A brilliant book with a concentrated focus on the practical from the Kanban evangelist Klaus Leopold. An outstanding mixture of practical instruction and theoretical knowledge. Exactly that is what is required for a successful Kanban operation in order to drive their own organization to a culture of improvement. Vividly and informatively written, without losing the personal touch.

    Holger Rieth, Head of the IT Department, STUTE Logistics (AG & Co.) KG, Bremen, Germany
  • What the title promises, this book keeps it! It contains numerous practical tips and recommendations that we successfully use in our daily "Kanban" life. Garnished with theoretical input, this book is required reading for anyone who wants to implement or improve Kanban within their company.

    Andrea Peterka, Agile Coach, and Alfred Bauer, Head of Self Service and Teller Cash Solutions, s IT Solutions AT Spardat GmbH, Vienna, Austria
  • Wonderful book! It shows what Kanban is really going about and how Kanban can really play on its strengths—namely on a large scale, by optimizing the entire process chain, and not just within individual teams. Klaus Leopold writes straightforward and to the point, with his own personal style. The book is easy to read and understand despite the challenging topics. I recommend it to anyone who would like to go beyond the local optimization of individual teams.

    Matthias Patzak, Vice President of Product Engineering, AutoScout24 GmbH, Munich, Germany

1. Why do we use Kanban?


There is a video available for the Ship Building Experiment discussed in the book. My good friend, Peter Hundermark, made a very nice recording of the entire experiment at a training in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Flight Levels

The Kanban Flight Levels are a central element that help uncover where Kanban should be implemented within a company. In the book, I write about four Flight Levels, but learning is a process and I have since simplified the Flight Levels. The new version can be found in the blog entry Flight Levels: The Organizational Improvement Levels.

2. Using and Improving Kanban Systems

Dealing with Blockers

Section 2.2 deals exclusively with blockers in the workflow. The main point of this section is to help us understand that blockers are not a curse, but rather a treasure chest of information for improvement work. In the book, there are many suggestions as to how this can work. I presented a summary of tips and tricks on the topic of blockades at the Lean Kanban North America Conference 2015 in Miami, Florida. The video to this:

3. Large Scale Kanban

What matters for large-scale Agility?

Ben Linders made an extensive interview on the topic of large-scale Agility—a summary of the highlights are:

  • Agility is not exclusively for software development.
  • Transparency of work processes and work is not a goal—it is a means to an end.
  • Agile frameworks usually prevent true agility, because their implementation is seen as achieving the goal. You are NEVER finished when it’s going about continuous improvement.
  • When agility is established at the team level, in the best case the company’s performance remains the same, but more typically the performance gets worse.

The complete Info-Q interview is here.

No team optimization, please!

At the Lean Kanban Central Europe Conference 2017 in Hamburg, I gave a presentation with the provocative title “Why Agile Teams have nothing to do with Business Agility”. I do not want to completely exclude the possibility that situations exist where team optimization makes sense. However, the biggest mistake in most Agile transformations is that all teams within a company are made “agile”, and then it is assumed that the organization is automatically agile. It doesn’t work that way! I mean, it’s a great approach if you are the consulting company, because you can sell a lot of consulting days with this course of action, because all of these teams will naturally need training, coaching, etc. However, the company involved is unfortunately often not helped by this. Often, the performance gets worse within the company, and that with extremely high consulting costs. Simply take a look at the video on this:

4. Forecasting

Can you trust a forecast?

The stability metric discussed in the book can be easily implemented in Excel. As input, you need either timestamps from all the work that is pulled through the system or you count the WIP in the relevant areas. Simply download the Stability Metric as an Excel File and try it yourself.

Throughput Forecasting

Troy Magennis developed a fantastic Excel Sheet on the topic of Throughput Forecasting. It covers all the topics discussed in the book and much more—it can model risks, and you can immediately see the effects on the progress of a project. It really pays off to download and take a look at the Throughput Forecasting Excel Sheet. Troy is an absolute Excel genius when dealing with metrics and forecasting. Definitely take a look through his Excel Collection!

Metrics Tool

Many of the metrics shown in the book were constructed with Dan Vacanti’s Metrics Tool. Along with the standard metrics such as Scatterplot, Cycle Time Histogram and Cumulative Flow Diagram, the tool supports several other flow metrics in addition. It is also outstanding for Forecasting because the Monte Carlo Simulation is also integrated in it. It’s worth taking a look at and giving it a try! This is where you can find the Metric and Forecasting Tool.

5. From Prioritization to Risk Assessment

In section 5.2, I show how you can quantify Cost of Delay and use the results to determine an effective order for executing the work. The approach is quite simple, but if you try to evaluate more than two or three pieces of work, determining a work order without of the help of a computer algorithm is not feasible because there are too many possible combinations. With just ten pieces of work, you must calculate 3,628,800 combinations, and with 15 pieces of work, the number climbs to 1,307,674,368,000. Since it cannot be your life’s work to calculate an order of execution for work in the backlog, I have developed a small program that can help with this task. The emphasis here is on small—however, it does what it needs to do. Under the link www.leanability.com/en/risk, you can try out this masterpiece.