Saturday, April 13, 2013


The benefits of Kanban are very clear and have been proven on organizations of diverse kinds and all sizes, and so are the benefits of Personal Kanban. Personal Kanban has resonated so well that people of all ages benefit from it, and this includes kids.

The benefits of gamification, when done properly (and not abused to become more of a Skinner-style conditioning practice, which doesn't work on the long run) are also being proven.

A Chilean couple, Luis and Natalia, came up with an awesome and very clever idea that combines Kanban and gamification to help improve their daughter Micaela's behavior. Micaela is a 3-year old fantastic girl with a great personality and very active. She also has a tendency to get distracted and to let her behavior be influenced by peers. Her parents haven trying different approaches to help her out. What finally worked for them was a very clever combination of Personal Kanban and Gamification. Let's call it Gamikanation.

The fotos show how this works. Luis and Natalia used a combination of Kanban and gamification. To make it easy on Micaela, the board has implicit wip and being a personal Kanban some tasks are in progress throughout the day such as wearing her shoes and behaving well; and some are immediate action such as eating her food and brushing her teeth. The gamification aspect is using pink hearts (for a boy they could be cars or sports balls or other that agrees with the kid’s interests) and using icons instead of words (which works better independently of whether the person is already able to read or not).

Positive results were immediate and significantly better than anything they have tried in the past. Even the school staff noticed Micaela’s change and amazed asked Luis and Natalia what they did. 

For those interested on some guidance the book Agile Kids by Shirly Ronen-Harel and Danny Kovatch, translated into Spanish by our own Angel Agueda, is a great help.

Addendum: unos días después de publicar éste blog recibí email de Ivonne, cuyo hijo Alex, de 6 años de edad comenzó a utilizar Kanban. Para evitar interpretaciones a continuación está parte del email que recibí, verbatim:
"Alex está muy emocionado con esto, todos los días está pendiente de actualizar su Kanban, apenas termina una actividad se ocupa de cambiarla a terminada. Me sorprende que ha mejorado su actitud y se esfuerza en terminar y hacer aquellas cosas que hasta el sábado no hací,a más que nada por no tener la disposición o motivación suficiente para ello.
La familia y el colegio ha notado estos cambios positivos y motivación por participar y terminar aquellas cosas que antes no hacía por iniciativa propia.
Muchas gracias por todos los conocimientos y aportes que nos has entregado, sin duda para mí en términos personales y profesionales Lean Agile ha sido un crecimiento muy positivo y beneficioso."

Valueinnova Kanban Certifications

Valueinnova started offering three Kanban Certifications at the beginning of 2013.
  • The Kanban Methodologist Certification is the entry level one. It certifies the professional is capable of applying the Kanban system and method successfully to obtain it is necessary to take the 2 day course, dedicate some extra hours of education attending related events such as webinars, conferences or other training, a certain amount of time actively practicing Kaban on a real project, and presenting and passing an exam.
  • The Kanban Leader Certification is for those interested on leading kanban teams. Requirements are to have a Methodologist certification and go through a series of actions similar to those for Methodologist but focused on Leadership.
  • The Kanban Mentor Certification is for those interested on Mentoring Kanban adoptions. It requires the previous two and also has similar requirements but at a higher level
At this point there are six Kanban Methodologists worldwide:
  • Marco Salas de la Paz: Panama
  • Angel Agueda Barrero: Spain
  • Matías Carrasco: Chile
  • Luis Horacio Díaz Stoffel: Chile
  • Gabriel Humberto Bracho Soto: Chile
  • Ivonne Mienert C: Chile

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Demystifying Kanban talk at Yahoo! headquarters in Sunnyvale California, USA

I had the privilege of giving a talk for the Silicon Valley Agile Leadership Network at Yahoo! headquarters in Sunnyvale California, and at 86 people the fortune of this having been the largest-attendance meeting the SVALN has had so far.

The meeting started with a gentle 10-minute introduction on what Kanban is and isn't (it is for managing improvement and not for managing projects) and some basics of Systems and Lean thinking. Then 65 minutes of fun, workshop style introduction to the Kanban system and method. The audience was divided in 4-people temas (that is 21 teams) doing a series of time-boxed exercises, which with the help of several volunteers Masa managed to pull off successfully. Attendants had a lot of fun and it was a learning experience to all. The last five minutes masa wrapped things up and commented that comparing Kanban with Scrum doesn't make sense because they have different purposes. Scrum is to manage software projects and Kanban is to manage continuous improvement.

Yahoo!'s meeting room was just perfect for the event and the food they provided was great. SVALN did a fantastic job organizing the event and setting up the meeting room. Volunteers were key to the event's success.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On managing remote teams

Excerpt from In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr.

“One reason the Roman empire grew so large and survived so long — a prodigious feat of management — is that there was no railway, airplane, car, radio, telephone. Above all, no telephone. And therefore you could not maintain any illusion of direct control over a general or provincial governor, you could not feel at the back of your mind that you could ring him up, or he could ring you, if a situation cropped up which was too much for him, or that you could fly over and sort things out if they started to get into a mess. You appointed him, you watched his chariot and baggage train disappear over the hill in a cloud of dust and that was that … There was, therefore, no question of appointing a man who was not fully trained, or not quite up to the job: you knew that everything depended on his being the best man for the job before he set off. And so you took great care in selecting him; but more than that you made sure that he knew all about Rome and Roman government and the Roman army before he went out.”

Sunday, September 2, 2012

First ever PMI-ACP preparation course in Mexico

I was about to blog about this when I received email from PMI-SFBAC so I am directing you to their news on this instead of wasting time writing about the same.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Handling ticket issues with Kanban

David J Anderson's book on Kanban shows us that a way to handle ticket issues is by attaching a color tag to a ticket to make it visible. An issue is ticket-related event that becomes an impediment to its value flow, such as a defect, insufficient definition, unresolved dependency, etc.

What I encounter often is people have natural tendency to move the ticket to where the dependency lyes. Although Kanban does not stop us from doing so, this might not be the best of actions. If, for example, in the images here the dependency is on Patient Checkin it might be tempting to move the ticket to the Checkin column.

Doing this brings some difficulties. 
  • We lose track of where the issue occurred (Treatment)
  • Quantification becomes tricky. Cycle time measurement for the ticket becomes unreliable. It is better to leave the ticket under Treatment so that we know the issue occurred during Treatment and the red ticked affixed to the yellow ticked indicate the dependency with Check-in. This is better because we don't lose track of where things are at and quantification remains unaffected
  • WIP handling becomes very tricky. What would happen if Checkin is at maximum capacity and we tried to move the ticket from Treatment to Checkin? We either violate WIP or keep the ticked under Treatment on some sort of stale state until Checkin has capacity (ugly)
  • Root cause analysis becomes harder also. It is better to keep log of the activities under Treatment, where the issue actually occurred to make root cause analysis easier, otherwise it becomes a bit harder to understand the space-time-event relationship

There is another solution by Duane Bradbury, Alex Hui and Taimur  Mohammad, which I like. I'm posting this with permission (thanks Duane!).

This is how we treat defects and the parent standard card...

1- card is in progress in QA,  

2) when a defect is discovered it is created in the Fix QA cell...

3) if QA is unable to continue the Card is moved down to Fix QA as well.  (if not the card remains in progress until they are unable to continue,   maybe the defect will be fixed before they are stuck)

4) the defect lives in this location until it is addressed/assigned, basically 
if someone is working on it, then it goes to where that is.   for this example it is the developer looking into it.   so the defect moves to the Build in progress...

so at this stage it is known that these cards are related (due to naming conventions) and it also shows the status.

5) once the defect is addressed and resolved it is moved into completed.  flagging the QA to pick up the defect and see if it resolved.  retesting

once the QA is able to pick it up both cards move into in progress QA.   showing retest is happing.   

Although this solution requires extra real state for the Fix swim lane it makes visibility and tracking much easier. 

—Masa K Maeda