Kanban For Knowledge Work

The Kanban method is a disciplined way to improve the organization continuously where the starting point is its current state. It has important economic advantages.


For starters, it doesn't replace your current practice, allowing your organization to still leverage years of investment instead tossing it out to do something radical increases risk and roles are also kept. This soft start makes it easier for stakeholders to agree on pursuing evolutionary change. Through a small set of practices and principles, the Kanban method increases awareness and understanding of the value flow by making it visually evident, such that opportunities for improvement are identified more easily than with other practices. Flow improvement accelerates by limiting the amount of work done at one same time, increasing collaboration, encouraging acts of leadership at all levels of the organization, enhancing communication through explicit policies, and by establishing feedback loops.


Kanban is part non-disruptive and part disruptive. Non-disruption occurs at the beginning of its adoption given that it doesn't require to throw away your established practices (no upfront throwing your huge investment). Kanban takes your current state as starting point, making it a better economic proposition compared to replacement-required approaches, and makes effective improvement possible. The disruptive part occurs when you and other decision makers come to the conclusion of doing some strong changes on the practices, tools, organization or other as part of the improvement path. Disruption also occurs from the cultural standpoint given the maturity in mindset that comes with applying Kanban together with lean mindset.

The Kanban method is applicable anywhere knowledge work takes place whether or not it is technology related. It is very powerful for both asynchronous and synchronous tasks. Kanban's six practices together with quantitative management are very powerful to improve the flow of portfolios, projects, team tasks and personal tasks.

Quantitative management is one of the most relevant strengths of Kanban. Measuring throughput, cycle time, value accumulation, blockages and other metrics it becomes easier to make better decisions. Even better, those decisions can be made at all levels of the organization, which effectively reduces latency.

Kanban's maturity model is compatible with Serious LeAP® and with XSCALE.