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Getting started with Kanban.

Getting Started with Kanban: A Guide to Initiating Your First Kanban Pilot


Kanban is a powerful strategy for improving workflow and enhancing productivity across various industries. Whether you’re in software development, marketing, or any other field, implementing Kanban can help streamline your processes and boost efficiency. This blog post will guide you through the steps to initiate your first Kanban pilot, emphasizing the importance of metrics and collaboration.

Why Kanban?

Kanban’s flexibility and focus on continuous improvement make it an excellent choice for teams looking to optimize their workflows without major disruptions. Here’s why you should consider starting a Kanban pilot:

  • Flexibility: Kanban adapts to your existing workflow, making it less disruptive compared to other methodologies.
  • Continuous Improvement: It promotes ongoing enhancements based on real data and team feedback.
  • Visibility: By visualizing your work, Kanban helps identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement.

Getting Started with Kanban

Starting a Kanban pilot is simpler than you might think. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

  1. Pick a Team:
    • Start Small: Select a team that is open to change and willing to experiment with new processes.
    • Engage Stakeholders: Ensure you have the support of key stakeholders who can champion the pilot.
  2. Define Your Workflow:
    • Document Current Processes: Run a workshop to create a definition of workflow. This involves writing down how work currently flows through your system.
    • Agree on Terms: Ensure everyone understands and agrees on the terminology and processes.
  3. Visualize the Workflow:
    • Create a Board: Use tools like JIRA or Azure DevOps to create a digital Kanban board. This board should represent your workflow stages.
    • Set WIP Limits: Establish work-in-progress (WIP) limits for each stage to prevent bottlenecks.
  4. Monitor and Analyze Metrics:
    • Collect Data: Start recording metrics such as cycle time and throughput. Use data analytics tools available in JIRA and Azure DevOps.
    • Identify Outliers: Use cycle time scatterplots to spot anomalies and areas that need improvement.

Using Metrics to Drive Improvement

Metrics are a crucial component of Kanban. They provide insights into how work flows through your system and help identify areas for improvement. Here’s how to leverage metrics effectively:

  • Cycle Time: Measure how long it takes for work to move through your system. This helps identify delays and inefficiencies.
  • Throughput: Track the number of work items completed over a period. This metric indicates your team’s productivity.
  • Scatterplots: Use scatterplots to visualize cycle times and identify outliers. Ask questions during retrospectives about why certain tasks took longer than expected.

Fostering a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Kanban is not just about setting up a board and moving cards. It’s about fostering a culture of continuous improvement:

  • Run Regular Workshops: Regularly revisit and update your definition of workflow. Encourage open discussions and continuous feedback.
  • Ask More Interesting Questions: Use data to drive conversations during team meetings and retrospectives. For example, discuss why certain tasks took longer and what can be done to improve.
  • Encourage Participation: Involve all team members in the process. Their insights and feedback are crucial for refining workflows and making meaningful improvements.

Overcoming Resistance

Implementing Kanban can sometimes meet resistance, especially if team members are accustomed to traditional methods. Here are some tips to overcome this:

  • Start with Metrics: Begin by introducing metrics and using data to highlight areas for improvement. This can help build credibility and demonstrate the value of Kanban.
  • Pilot Approach: Emphasize that it’s a pilot and encourage a mindset of experimentation and learning.
  • Continuous Communication: Keep the lines of communication open. Regularly update the team on progress and celebrate small wins to maintain momentum.


Implementing a Kanban pilot in your organization is easier than you might think. By starting small, defining your workflow, and leveraging metrics, you can initiate a process of continuous improvement that enhances productivity and efficiency. If your current system of work is failing you, now is the time to create and apply a Kanban strategy.

Thanks for reading! If you found this post helpful, please like, follow, and subscribe. I always reply to comments, and if you want to chat about Kanban, agile, or DevOps, feel free to book a coffee with me through Naked Agility.

Recommended Resources:

  • Kanban Training: Check out our Pro Kanban training programs.
  • Consulting Services: Need help implementing Kanban? Our experts are here to guide you.
  • Further Reading: Explore more about Kanban and agile methodologies on our blog.

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