Mirrored kanban board

This week I want to share an idea with you. This is not something I have tried out in any of my teams yet, but I might eventually do. This popped into my head when one of our agile captains started to walk the team’s kanban board from left to right. This was a mistake, and a team member reminded him that he should walk the kanban board from right to left, to pull things through the process, rather than to push. The behavior of pushing work trough the process is deeply rooted in the minds of our team members, even if we have used Kanban for quite some time.

So my idea is this, why not mirror (horizontally turn) the kanban board to support this behavior that seems to come naturally? Doing things from left to right is deeply rooted in our behavior in large parts of the world. You are reading this text from left to right as an example. In other parts of the world reading is not done from left to right and there this idea might be less applicable.

Example of a ”mirrored kanban board”

How would this look like in real life? First, here is a picture of a ”standard kanban board”.

””Standard

Above is an example of a ”standard kanban board” where the flow is going from left to right, and thus needs to be walked from right to left to get the pull behavior.

””Mirrored

Above is a ”mirrored kanban board” which is walked from left to right to emphasize the pull behavior. Accordingly the flow is going from right to left.

Benefits

What are the benefits of mirroring your kanban board? Here are some things that I can think of:

  • Emphasize the pulling behavior. The person walking the board will pull things through the process by walking the board from left to right.
  • Emphasize the natural behavior of doing something from left to right, since this seems to be deeply rooted.
  • Excitement of a new experiment. If you have a team that has used a ”standard kanban board” for a long time, this could be one way to shake them up a bit to open up their minds again for new ideas.

The possible drawback I can see is of course that this change can take some time to get used to. Especially if the team has worked a long time with a ”standard kanban board”.

I can also think that it might be a good idea to use the ”mirrored kanban board” to help the team members to get the pull behavior, and then when it comes naturally switch back to a ”standard kanban board”.

Summary

Have any one of you tried out something like this? I’m eager to hear all your feedback! After reading The Innovators I believe in sharing ideas even if they are not fully finished. Only when they are exposed to others that can contribute, they will grow to become something really useful!

All the best,
 Tomas from TheAgileist

Blog post update:

””World’s

Could this be the world’s first mirrored kanban board?

Advertisements

6 comments

  1. I hadn’t thought of this before, its interesting. But, my first thought is that although the columns would be reversed, you still pull from right to left to get items in the next column in the workflow. I would try it out on someone who naturally wants to push and see what they naturally do.

    Like

  2. I’m a big fan of a future-oriented board. Stuff not done is all future stuff. Normally we draw timelines with future stuff on the right hand side and past stuff on the left hand side. With a ‘future flow board’ you pull the future towards you. It also evokes a more natural behavior to replenish any future states that drop below the low water mark. The future orientation also helps to create a share vision, maybe even goal, and it provides a kind of roadmap towards future releases. You can even consider rotating a story map 90 degrees counter clockwise achieving the same effect.

    Like

    1. Hello Martien and thanks for your comment. I really like your sentence “With a ‘future flow board’ you pull the future towards you.”!!! This triggered some more thinking for me on how to enhance this. I’ll surely be back with more regarding this topic, thanks again!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s