Mirrored kanban board

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?