The seminal book on Kanban for software development is still a sound foundation on the matter. Indeed, it is the best book on Kanban to date. This is easily justified by the fact that David Anderson explains Kanban through the original implementations of the method.
Anderson starts the book telling his motivations for solving the Agile manager’s dilemma: how to scale agility in large organizations and how to achieve a sustainable pace? The author tells his professional history back at Sprint PCS (which became a Motorola-owned company) where he was persuaded to influence other teams without success. His conclusion was that prescriptively enforcing a software development process on a team doesn’t work. Every situation is unique (organizations, teams, and projects are different) and this creates resistance to change.
The stories are very interesting as they resonate easily in every software development professional. They are about derailing projects in the hands of teams with low morale. However, the outcomes are even more interesting: the Microsoft case had a 200% productivity boost and 90% lead time reduction. At Corbis (chapter 5), a strong continuous improvement culture emerged (and the documented Kanban Method in the book).
In both cases, a uniquely tailored process was created for each context. This emergent Lean behavior is due to the application of the Core Practices of Kanban: Visualize Workflow, Limit WIP, Measure and Manage Flow, Make Process Policies Explicit and Use Models to Recognize Improvement Changes.
Then the book goes on with a practical explanation on how to adopt Kanban. The chapters 6 (Mapping the Value Stream), 10 (Setting Work-in-Progress Limits), 12 (Metrics and Management Reporting), 16 (Three Types of Improvement Opportunity) and 17 (Bottlenecks and Non-Instant Availability) are enlightening and the author succeeds in adapting all these practices and explaining them in a seemingly logical progression.
If you want to adopt Kanban, this is the book to start. You will understand the motivations that drove the evolution of the method from the pioneer’s perspective. Then look for fresher references, since the method evolved since then. The Core Practices (Chapter 3) were refined, the Foundational Principles were introduced and the System Thinking Approach to Introducing Kanban replaced the Recipe for Success (Chapter 3). Kanban from the Inside (the parts I and III) and Real-World Kanban are good follow-up readings.
The drawback on the Kindle edition are the low-resolution pictures of Kanban boards.
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