99 Second Presentation: Kanban Values or How I Almost Attacked a Manager With Hot Coffee

Kanban Values by Mike Burrows

Once there was this day when I almost attacked a manager with hot coffee. I had booth duty at a conference in 2009, and a manager came by and asked about Kanban. I grabbed my coffee mug and explained Kanban by refering to the practices, like “Visualize” and “Limit WIP”, and to the principles, like “Start with what you know”, etc. As I explained, the manager’s face went from sceptical over interested to pleased – actually it was more like an evil grin. So I asked him what he thinks about it, and he said: “This is awesome! That’s exactly the kind of method I was looking for to finally get more control over my lazy employees!

Kanban Principles by David Anderson

I was shocked, at first, and then started a very heated discussion about that this was not what I was talking about. Somehow during this discussiond I spilled coffee from my mug over the manager. People later told me they had the impression I was attacking the manager with coffee – to defend Kanban of course!

But what happened? The thing is, you could actually implement Kanban in a very bad command-and-control-ish way. But that’s harder with values in place. For example, “visualizing your workflow” is a practice which can be implemented in a very command-and-control-ish way. But if you had the value “respect” tied to this practice, then this would lead you more naturally to a self-organizing way.

Kanban Practices by David Anderson

I appreciate that Mike Burrows started a great conversation in the Kanban community when he posted his view on Kanban values. Thank you, Mike, because you’ve probably saved lots of people from further coffee attacks :)

This is my text of the 99 Second Presentation session of the Limited WIP Society Melbourne tonight. This format was invented by Scott Berkun, you could do a presentation with two constraints: the presentation shouldn’t be longer than 99 seconds, and you are allowed only a single slide.

I couldn’t wing it, so I read out the story. It worked, I guess. I prepared the three slides you see in this post. Thanks to Ed Wong, who pointed out that I only can use a single slide, I used just the one with the values.

Thanks to my wife Victoria, because she recorded a video of the last 85 seconds of this presentation:

I was among several other presenters; Ben Hogan also blogged about his presentation, [update: and you can find the content of Craig Brown’s presention on his blog, too].

All in all a nice experience. Kudos to the organisers, especially Jason Yip!

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About Bernd Schiffer

Bernd Schiffer is consultant, trainer and coach for Agile Software Development in Melbourne, Australia. Learn more about him on his personal homepage, have a look at his company Bold Mover, or contact him on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, XING or LinkedIn.

One Response to 99 Second Presentation: Kanban Values or How I Almost Attacked a Manager With Hot Coffee

  1. Joserra says:

    Yes! Absolutely agree!
    I wrote a post three month ago, tittled “If I take Kanban, I also take the Agile principles” with the same idea. (“Si llevo kanban, también llevo los principios ágiles” , sorry, in Spanish)
    I think Kanban us just a tool, so there are no values inside. So it can reinforce the existing values of command and control. It must be seen as a transformation tool to make agile values emerge. But that´s not implicit in Kanban. You can´t forget Lean thinking or Agile values when starting a transformation with Kanban. Or you can, it´s up to you… :)

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