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Create a Kanban board and go Agile in an instant

By Nick Butler

18 March 2021

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Boost Agile coach at a Kanban board.

With Kanban, you can go Agile in an instant. Find out what makes Kanban tick and how you can set up a Kanban board and start today.

Kanban is an Agile framework that uses four principles and six methods to help you get more done in less time. The four principles mean you can start right away and the six methods lock in iterative improvements in the efficiency or flow of your work.

4 principles of Kanban

  1. Start with what you do now.
  2. Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change.
  3. Respect current process, roles, responsibilities and titles.
  4. Leadership at all levels.

6 methods of Kanban

  1. Visualise.
  2. Limit work in progress (WIP).
  3. Manage flow.
  4. Make policies explicit.
  5. Implement feedback loops.
  6. Improve collaboratively, evolve experimentally.

Illustration showing the six methods of Kanban.

Visualise to optimise: create a Kanban board today

A Kanban board helps you visualise your work, which means you can limit WIP, manage flow, display policies and so on.

A simple kanban board. Image by Jeff.lasovski, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

How to create and use a Kanban board

  1. Break your work into the stages that make sense for your team and your processes. A simple version might be: To do | Doing | Review | Done
  2. Create a column for each of these stages.
  3. Write each piece of work on a post-it and place it in the left hand column.
  4. Move the post-it along from left to right as you complete each stage.
  5. Set limits on the number of post-its that can be in any column at any time (limiting work in progress).
  6. Watch out for work that clumps or stalls in particular stages. Regularly get together to see if you can get the work flowing better.

Kanban board tips and tricks

  • Don’t spend too much time figuring out your Kanban board. Come up with something and start using it, you will quickly see where improvements can be made.
  • Keep your board tidy and nominate someone to keep it looking nice.
  • Personalise your board so that it’s clear who is working on what. We use avatars at Boost.
  • Do a daily stand-up around your Kanban board so that it can be updated at the same time.
  • Use your board to house other important info such as your definition of done, team charter and retro goals.

Learn more

How Boost started with Kanban

The Board 22: Scrum and Kanban

The Board 34: Scrum and Kanban part 2

Scrum and Kanban: a developer’s perspective

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