I'm curious as to what kanban is. I just learned about it seconds ago reviewing another question.

  • (a) What is involved that would consider it Kanban?

  • (b) Also how does it different from other processes?

I looked through a lot of threads and the only one related to this topic on PM.SE would be the one asking: Is there a list of good kanban books?


4 Answers 4


Kanban is a method for developing products with an emphasis on just-in-time delivery while not overloading the developers. It emphasizes that developers pull work from a queue, and the process, from definition of a task to its delivery to the customer, is displayed for participants to see.

5 core properties:

  1. visualize the workflow
  2. limit work in progress
  3. manage the flow
  4. Make Process Policies Explicit
  5. Improve Collaboratively (using models & the scientific method)

Personally, I think this mini-book is one of the best and fastest introductions to Scrum and Kanban.

Here is an example of a whiteboard to be used in Kanban enter image description here

  • 7
    In words of David Anderson, father of Kanban for software development: Kanban is an approach to change management. It isn’t a software development or project management lifecycle or process. It is sort of counterintuitive but that's what Kanban really is. Besides of this one a very good answer. Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 7:27
  • +1 for link to minibook. it is available as free pdf in translated into many languages (spanish, german, japanese , ....)
    – k3b
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 20:03
  • I have never worked with Kanban, but based on the properties and image provided, what is the difference between Kanban and SCRUM?
    – almanegra
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 18:45
  • Scrum is based on a series of sprints, with sprint planning done at the beginning of every sprint where progress is measured using burn down charts. Kanban has no sprints, and is based more on the concept of ad hoc project delivery, where progress is measured based on the time it takes to complete a task. The team just picks items from the backlog and moves it through the swimlanes. Compared to Scrum it is easier to run and requires less maintenance.
    – bobo2000
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 11:58

What @Kennethvr said. If you're familiar with Scrum or other Agile methodologies, the big differences for me were:

  • Visualise what's actually happening, rather than what you want to happen (so represent reality over the ideal) - so your initial board might be much more complex than this.
  • Get people to help finish existing work in progress rather than starting new work - the limits in WIP help to drive collaboration - so your board will start to lose columns as the team start to blur phases together.
  • "Manage the flow" means "Work out what slows you down and how to get feedback faster" - but you're looking at the whole shebang from initial idea through to production, rather than just the development part. "Done" really does mean "making money" or whatever your business value is.
  • If you see something that isn't represented by your visualisaton, and it's part of implicit process, make it part of what you visualise. The team can't improve what the team can't see.

The other large takeaway is that teams who learn to improve themselves actually do better in the long run than ones who rely on someone external to change - so small changes driven by the team may be more effective for you than a big-bang change like Scrum. My small experience with Kanban, and with applying these principles even within a loose Scrum framework, bears this out.


Kanban is a tool to visualize your waste (work in progress) and keep it limited. If would you like to see a simulation check this presentation that I've written for introducing Kanban

Kanban step-by-step


Maybe you can go through materials on slide share? There is a new presentation about kanban - kanban in 4 easy steps.

  • 1
    Although presentation is great, link-only answers are not welcome at PMSE. Can you describe its content briefly? Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 9:57

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