Notes from Kanban Fundamentals course on Pluralsight

Here are my notes from the very good Pluralsight course Kanban fundamentals by Steve Smith.

  • Kanban = kan (visual) & ban (card)
  • Taiichi Ono from Toyota 1920ies
  • Kanban is about maximizing flow
  • It's for visualizing work and limiting WIP (work in progress)
  • Little's Law states that queue length (L) = arival rate * avg. wait time.
  • Cycle time = WIP / Throughput
Lead time vs Cycle time
Ticket created Start work Ticket implemented
Lead time
  Cycle time

Personal Kanban

Personal Kanban getting started

  • Gather materials (sticky notes, whiteboard, pens)
  • Establish Value stream (Ready/Doing/Done)
  • Make your backlog explicit (put them on sticky notes, focus on completeness, not organization)
  • Establish WIP limit
  • Begin pulling tasks
  • Reflect

Create a blocked state too - prioritize them and set a WIP on them as well!

Potentially, add a Today column:

Prioritization lanes:

Kanban for software teams

Usually, the upstream process (UP) would produce as fast as they could without worrying about the downstream process (DP) - this lead to a lot of waste = overproduction.

However, in the pull model, the DP requests more parts, and the UP produces just enough items to keep the store populated with some limited number of parts.

The Kanban Method** Properties

  • Visualize workflow
  • Limit WIP
  • Measure and manage flow
  • Make process policies explicit
  • Use models to recognize improvement opportunities

Recipe for success

  • Focus on quality - reduces defects
  • Reduce WIP - reduces defects as well
  • Deliver often - as that builds trust
  • Balance demand against throughput - don't accept work at a rate higher than the rate your team produces work. This will yield bottlenecks
  • Prioritize
  • Attack sources of variability to improve predictability -

Microsoft case study 2004:

  • remove estimations
  • limit WIP
  • More frequent cadence

Implementing Kanban

  • Define your process and endpoints
  • Identify types of the workflow
  • Create a card wall
  • Establish and visualize queues/buffers


Example usage for 'swimlanes' (horizontal lines denoting 'critical' tasks that eventually happen):

An example of post it notes on the actual physical board in case that's used.

Online Tools

The author mentioned the following tools:

  • AgileZen
  • LeanKit
  • Trello
  • Targetprocess

However, this list is rather old. Even so much so that at the time Trello was free, and it just got sold yesterday 🙂

I'd like to add one kanban tool that I use for personal usage: And one that I'm about to start using, and will write my thoughts about how well is fitting in our workflow after I do some work with it:


Very good introduction to Kanban, which may be just as much as you'll ever need.

Written by Nikola Brežnjak