The Scrum Guide provides a concise, definitive guide to scrum. Is there such a guide available for Kanban?


3 Answers 3


I've never seen anything like what you're looking for. I don't think it's likely to exist.

Kanban was originally developed as part of the Toyota Production System and just-in-time manufacturing. The canonical reference for TPS would probably be Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, which was written by Taiichi Ohno, the creator of TPS. I learned about TPS mainly from The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer, and the author (Jeffrey K. Liker) has other books about TPS and Toyota as well.

Real-World Kanban: Do Less, Accomplish More with Lean Thinking is also easily digestible and provides theory and practice around using Kanban. I picked up a copy, but having already learned TPS and lean software development, I don't think it added a whole lot. Some of the case studies and real-world practices were interesting, though.

All of these are longer than The Scrum Guide, though. If you're looking for something that short, I'm not sure you can find anything that does it justice.


If you are looking for good guides to the application of Kanban for knowledge work, especially software and IT, then the following are the must-read books -

  1. "Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business" by David Anderson. Published in 2010, this is also referred to as the 'Blue book on Kanban' - where David defined the "Kanban Method for knowledge work" - and is one of the most comprehensive descriptions of how and why Kanban should be used in all knowledge work. You can find it here.

  2. "Kanban from the Inside" by Mike Burrows. This book expands on the agendas and values of the Kanban Method - and also provides a great insight on how to implement Kanban using the STATIK method - Systems Thinking Approach to Implementing Kanban. You can get this here.

  3. "Kanban and Scrum - making the most of both (Enterprise Software Development)" by Henrik Kniberg and Mattias Skarin - a good guide to using Scrum and Kanban together. Here is the link for it.

Besides these, there are a number of blogs which provide some great perspectives on the evolution of Kanban especially in the last 10 years. My company's website also includes a fairly comprehensive guide to Kanban here, with specific sections on What is Kanban and Getting Started with Kanban.

Hope this helps!



The Scrum Guide was designed to be a structured, portable framework that could be lightly customized for each implementation. The Kanban Method is closer to a set of principles, and doesn't even mandate a set of common artifacts—not even the uniquitious board and cards that many people consider synonymous with Kanban!

The Kanban Method

The closest you're likely to get to a succinct guide is "The Principles of the Kanban Method", although it's more akin to the Agile Manifesto than the Scrum Guide in terms of its level of detail.

If you're looking for a set of principles for implementing the Kanban method as formulated by David J. Anderson, then that's a key resource. Books on the topic generally have implementation examples, but because the framework is even less prescriptive than Scrum (in terms of ceremonies and artifacts) and less structured (by design), you're going to be hard-pressed to find a Kanban guide that's uncoupled from its implementation details, or that provides a comprehensive implementation guide.

The technical aspects of most books on Lean and Kanban focus on how to visualize the workflow, and on various calculations for queues, cycles, graphs, diagrams, and WIP limits. In other words, you get a lot of "how we implemented the principles for Project X" rather than a generic blueprint. This makes Kanban more flexible in some regards, but also less rigorous in other aspects.

If your question were closer to "Is there a commonly-referenced guide for implementing Kanban in industry X?" then it would still be tough to answer, but certainly more answerable. Kanban (as a general framework, rather than as an implementation) lacks the formal guidance you may have come to expect from other systems. This is largely by design.

See Also

General Resources

Additional Bibliography

If you want additional sources, look to the bibliographies and citations of other books in the field. The following is taken from the bibliography of Real-World Kanban by Mattias Skarin:

  • David J. Anderson. Kanban. Blue Hole Press, http://www.e-junkie.com/129573, 2010.
  • Mike Burrows. Kanban From the Inside. Blue Hole Press, http://www.e-junkie.com/129573, 2014.
  • Marcus Hammarberg and Joakim Sunden. Kanban in Action. Manning Publications Co., Greenwich, CT, 2014.
  • Henrik Kniberg. Lean from the Trenches. The Pragmatic Bookshelf, Raleigh, NC, and Dallas, TX, 2011.
  • Henrik Kniberg and Mattias Skarin. Kanban and Scrum: Making the Most of Both. InfoQueue, http://www.infoq.com, 2009.
  • Jeffrey Liker. The Toyota Way. McGraw-Hill, Emeryville, CA, 2004. Niklas Modig and Par Ahlstrom. This is Lean. Rheologica Publishing, Stockholm, Sweden, 2012.
  • Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck. Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit for Software Development Managers. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 2003.
  • Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck. Leading Lean Software Development. Addison-Wesley Professional, Boston, MA, 2009.
  • Donald G. Reinertsen. The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development. Celeritas Publishing, Redondo Beach, CA, 2009.
  • Anderson's The Kanban Method is not the same as Kanban from TPS and Lean. I think it's confusing to equate the two of them at all. The Kanban Method incorporates other aspects of TPS and Lean. In fact, of the "5 Principles", 3 of them are from Lean principles: Visualize the workflow, Make Process Policies Explicit, and Improve Collaboratively (using models & the scientific method). Kanban is one tool from Lean to limit work in progress and manage flow. Lean and TPS provide the other tools.
    – Thomas Owens
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 17:07

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