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Personal Kanban as a Coaching Tool for Product Owners and Others

A while ago I wrote about Personal Kanban at Snapper. Personal Kanban, or KanbanFor1 as we call it, has supported Snapper’s Agile adoption and has proven an excellent training ground for the team to develop good habits and behaviours.

As in all Agile adoptions the delivery team aren’t the only ones affected by the change and in this post I describe how I have used personal Kanban as a co-coaching tool to help a Product Owner adapt to the challenges of his new job.

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Kanban is not for the Idle or Newbies

For four of my six and a half Agile years I was solidly in the Scrum camp, Lean, in my opinion, was already part of Scrum and its influence made Scrum even better. I don’t think that any Agile practice is for the work shy and there is a lot of personal courage needed to get any practice working well. Many people call Kanban an evolutionary rather than revolutionary process (my disagreement of this bland throw away statement will be in a later post), and I think this allows too many people keep the dinosaurs roaming the earth, if the mass extinction event has just happened then apart from the obvious sense of loss , at least you have an empty playing field to start from. Scrum at least with its slightly more prescriptive approach gives you somewhere to start.

About two years ago Kanban for software finally entered my Agile sphere. I initially relegated it to the ideal-for-support-teams division, and sneered at the new kid on the block. But time spent seeing Kanban in action and listening to the wise words of people like Gareth Evans (understanding the cost of delay was a revelation for me)  and presentations including “Agile isn’t the point, better is the point,” by Michael Bromley, made me think about Kanban in a more positive light.

Visual Workspaces: Kanban for one

One of the things that immediately caught on when we started our journey towards being Agile at Snapper was the use of visual workspaces. The team loved the sense of achievement of moving a task from “In Progress” to “Done” and found the board helped them stay focused and co-ordinated. Everyone from team member to operations to management appreciated the level of visibility and transparency. Even my partner’s 11-year old daughter thought my work place was the coolest ever as we had covered the walls in colourful sticky notes and Simpsons characters.