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Why is Kanban becoming increasingly popular in creative industries?

Embracing Kanban: A Creative Approach to Workflow Optimization


Kanban is gaining popularity across various industries, especially the creative sector. Whether you’re building computer games, crafting marketing content, or producing videos, Kanban offers a flexible and effective strategy for optimizing your workflow. In this blog post, we’ll delve into why Kanban is so well-suited for creative work, how it can be implemented, and why it’s not just about having a board on the wall.

Why Kanban is Ideal for Creative Industries

Creative industries often face unique challenges that traditional frameworks like Scrum may not adequately address. Here’s why Kanban is becoming the go-to strategy:

  • Flexibility: Unlike Scrum, which many perceive as a software engineering process, Kanban can be adapted to any type of work, making it ideal for creative tasks.
  • Non-Disruptive: Kanban allows you to start from your existing workflow, minimizing disruption while gradually introducing improvements.

The Challenges of Applying Scrum to Creative Work

Scrum can be challenging to implement in creative environments due to its structured nature and emphasis on teamwork over individual creativity. Creative work is often personal and iterative, which can clash with Scrum’s team-oriented processes.

  • Individual vs. Team Focus: Creativity is highly individual, and Scrum’s focus on the team can be at odds with this. Kanban, on the other hand, can be tailored to individual workflows.
  • Resistance to Change: Many creative professionals are hesitant to adopt frameworks that impose significant changes to their existing processes.

Getting Started with Kanban

Kanban’s beauty lies in its simplicity and flexibility. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Define Your Workflow:
  • Documenting Your Process: The first step is to write down your current way of working. This documentation forms the foundation of your Kanban system.
  • Common Misunderstandings: Many teams think that simply having a board with moving cards is Kanban, but it’s much more than that.
  1. Visualization:
  • Create a Board: Use a physical board or digital tools like JIRA or Trello to visualize your workflow.
  • Work In Progress (WIP) Limits: Establish WIP limits to prevent overloading your system. This ensures work moves smoothly through each stage.
  1. Monitor and Adapt:
  • Collect Data: Use Kanban metrics to track the flow of work and identify bottlenecks.
  • Continuous Improvement: Regularly review your workflow and make adjustments based on the data to optimize your process.

The Personal Nature of Creative Work

Creative work is inherently personal, and Kanban respects this by allowing individuals to tailor their workflows to their needs while still aligning with team objectives.

  • Personal Kanban: Each team member can have their own personal Kanban board, ensuring they can work in a way that suits them best while still contributing to the overall project goals.
  • Team Agreements: While individual workflows are respected, it’s essential to have team agreements on how work is chosen and prioritized to ensure coherence and efficiency.

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Implementing Kanban is not without its challenges. Here are some common pitfalls and how to avoid them:

  • Lack of Definition: Failing to define your workflow can lead to inconsistencies. Ensure you document and agree on your process.
  • Ignoring WIP Limits: Without WIP limits, you risk overloading your system. Stick to the limits to maintain a steady flow of work.
  • Insufficient Monitoring: Regularly review and analyze your workflow to identify and address issues promptly.

Why Kanban is Not Just a Board

A common misconception is that Kanban is merely about having a board with columns and moving cards. In reality, it involves much more:

  • Definition of Workflow: Clearly define each stage of your process and ensure everyone on the team understands it.
  • Active Management: Continuously monitor and adjust your workflow based on data and team feedback.


Kanban is an incredibly versatile and powerful strategy for optimizing workflows, especially in creative industries. By starting from your current process and gradually introducing improvements, Kanban minimizes disruption and enhances efficiency.

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.

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  • Further Reading: Explore more about Kanban and agile methodologies on our blog.

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