Well, Yesterday’s post on KanBan generated a little bit more heat than I intended. When I clicked submit, as I writer, I thought I had completed an opinion/editorial piece I would stand behind. Heck, I thought it was good writing.
No, wait. I still stand behind it, and I still think it was good writing.
Then again, it could always be better.
I don’t want to white-wash what I wrote yesterday by editing it; that would have the effect of blunting legitimate criticism. So, taking a critical eye at what I wrote yesterday, let me add a few things:
– First, my initial mention of certification had nothing to do with Kanban. The second mention – yes, I do expect some kind of Kanban cert will come, even if it’s only a “letter of recommendation” from the leaders in the movement. But that section that talked about ISTQB was only designed to point out that I personally had walked away from a “it’s gold baby” idea that I thought lacked merit. I suppose the part where I mention the censure of the term “best practice” accomplished this; If I were to re-write it, I would cut that section.
– For the most part, the essay stood firm with showing over telling. This is an important concept in writing – you don’t say the hero is brave, you have him fight the dragon. You don’t say he’s strong; you have him lift a horse or that his arms are as large as tree-trunks. You let the reader decide if the hero is strong. Then I had to end by referring to some Kanban folks as “Jokers.” That was uncalled for, and not even what I meant. If I had to do it over again, I would have used something non-judgmental and objective instead. Perhaps “Coaches.”
– The initial article introduced Mr. Anderson as a European. Apparently, he took offense to that, and thought my post was “nationalistic.” Well, I certainly don’t see a benefit to introducing him as European, so I do cut that single word.
– I believe Northern Europeans are innovative with regard to process and product. I believe we should be studying them for process innovations the way the automotive industry learned to study the Japanese. I am completely serious about that.
– Not every person advocating Kanban is advocating the ideals of Frederick W. Taylor, but I have subscribed to the discussion list for months and that was my personal conclusion. As I tried to say with my white hats/black bandannas comment, I did not intend to color the Kanban movement with too broad a brush.
Now, some of the benefits of KanBan:
– The idea of limiting work in progress is one I find fundamentally sound. After all, if the testers are stuck on iteration 1, developers are on iteration 2, and the business analysts are working on iteration 7, something is wrong. The Analysts will create excess inventory (‘analyzed’ work-to-be-done), it won’t be fresh, the business may change it’s mind – when the team could take those analysts, cross-training, and otherwise brainstorming ways to change responsibilities around to get iteration 1 done faster. This would decrease overall time-to-market and get more software done in less time.
– Ditto, and very similarly, the idea of achieving pull appeals to me.
– Limiting Work In Progress will have the side effect of limiting multi-tasking; multi-tasking being a well-documented time/effort sink.
– I think it’s good to have teams talking about process and debating merits of various ideas. Kanban is stirring the mix; that’s good.
– I have to agree that, while a rose by any other name may still smell as sweet, there are some managers and executives who may be strongly opposed to something called “Agile” or confused by the term “Scrum”, yet, referred to as “lean”, they may be receptive. To some extent, I’m happy to change my terminology in order to better impact and communicate with the rest of our business.
So yes, I’m worried about Kanban. I think it has it’s merits, and it also has some risks. If anyone is interested in a spirited debate where we both have potential to learn, please, drop me a line.