Just Read: Personal Kanban

I’ve previously told you about my experiences of Personal Kanban (PK), at work and at home. I recently got the opportunity to borrow the book, Personal Kanban by Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry, from a good friend and it did not disappoint.

Immediately notice the book’s subtitle “Mapping Work | Navigating Life”, because that gives an excellent insight into the mindset of the authors! The book takes you through the basics of PK such as its keystones of visualizing your work and limiting your work in progress. It continues with describing how to create your own Kanban board, with a value stream and backlog, and sends you off ready to start pulling tasks!

Further topics include optimizing flow vs. capacity, slack, push vs. pull, the horrors of to-do lists and the need to continuously refine your own PK process. You’ll learn about swim lanes, additional value streams, the PEN, and more. But if you only take these concrete subjects with you, you’ve missed the whys of the book.

Existential overhead for example, is something you will immediately recognize: You know “in the back of your head” that there are a million things you need to do. You don’t know exactly what they are or when you’ll do them, but they are there, right? PK helps you minimize existential overhead by visualizing and mapping the work ahead of you into something the authors like to call a narrative. Could it be possible that your organization suffers from existential overhead? How do you think your developers feel about that technical debt they know exist all across the code base?

Another interesting subject, is the Ziegarnik Effect, which is the strong propensity for humans to remember incomplete tasks over completed ones. We simply need to have closure on those things we have started, and with PK we get this in a very strong manner: by moving the PK cards to that final column on the board that emanates success: DONE!

This book is full of life and examples of how PK helped people in various situations and that gives it a very humanistic tone. Not only does it teach you everything you need to know about PK as a method, it follows up with why it is such a good method and how it will affect your life. This book is a must have for Agile exponents and anyone who likes to get things done with effectiveness.