David Anderson observed five core properties to be present in each successful implementation of Kanban. These have become know as the Principles of Kanban.

First adopt the foundational principles…

  1. Start with what you do now
  2. Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change
  3. Respect the current process, roles, responsibilities & titles

Then use the Five Core Properties…

  1. Visualize the Workflow
  2. Limit Work in Progress
  3. Manage Flow
  4. Make Process Policies Explicit
  5. Improve Collaboratively—using models & the scientific method

To get started:

  1. Walk the line—Staple yourself to an item and follow its steps through its life.
  2. Visualize the workflow—Draw the flow of steps that are taken as a sequence of columns. Use common sense to merge columns.
  3. Track all work—For a couple of weeks, put all work as individual items on the board, and track them as they progress.
  4. Limit Work in Progress—After some time, and using common sense, put limits on some columns (and swim lanes, if you have them) to increase flow and throughput. Tighten up the limits over time, until it starts hurting. Use the pain to trigger a conversation on how to get rid of the pain while maintaining the limit. Repeat.