Book: Personal Kanban

Just finished reading Personal Kanban – good book – I highly recommend it! The essence of Jim’s approach is to:

  1. visualize your work
  2. limit WIP (work in progress)

Some quotes from the book:

  • p.75: Central to this – once again – is the concept of pull. Pull is essential for stability and sustainability. The more a system relies on a core mechanism of force action, the less sustainable it becomes. Push systems tend to cause bottlenecks by ignoring natural capacity.
  • p.89: Productive, Efficient, and Effective
  • p.101: Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. – Dwight D. Eisenhower. – We want to avoid becoming mired in detail and committing prematurely. People uniformly spend too much time estimating the size, costs, and impacts of their work. They overplan up front and as context changes, they find themselves endlessly modifying their original assumptions. Planning should occur with minimal waste; it shouldn’t become overhead.
  • p.112: My distaste for administrative work is the stuff of legends. If it involves bookkeeping, filing taxes, or submitting claims of any sort, I’m probably going to let those obligations accumulate until the last responsible minute (or slightly after), complaining the entire time. So on my Personal Kanban I assign such loathsome tasks bright orange sticky notes.
  • p.124: At Gray Hill Solutions, we too sought out these de facto heroes to deliver us from crises. It was only after several years of working with both the vaunted and the more humbly-titled brethren that we came to an interesting realization: A-listers were successful not because they had superior programming skills, but because they took time to learn why they were building the software in the first place. They sought clarity from the onset, gathering vital information and incorporating it into their design. If the pertinent information wasn’t readily available, they used deductive reasoning to devise a plan to obtain it. Once they found clarity, they had the freedom to innovate and the ability to outperform their colleagues. When we recognized that the real superpower at play here was the foresight to seek out hidden clarity, we introduced a visual control – a kanban – to provide clarity to the entire team. It wasn’t long before we discovered B and C-list coders rose to meet or even surpass their A-list colleagues. The logical conclusion here: A-list artistry is not born of technical prowess, but of clarity of purpose.
  • p.132: Structure misleading implies security. Well-laid plans make us feel safe. Once we define the path towards an objective, we somehow feel our future is ensured. For many of us, rigorous up-front planning is ingrained in in our psyche, so much so that anything else feels uncertain, less scientific, like we’re operation without a net. Blindly followed plans are no substitute for being attentive, and adjusting our actions to best serve our goals.
  • p.134: That’s where introspection comes in. When we’re introspective, we observe our thought processes to understand the reasoning behind our decisions. We look at past events through the filter of our own emotions, motivations, and biases. Why did we decide on A over B? Whose interests were we really serving? Did we make the best choice? Did our choice make us happy? This is the point where we give ourselves the information we need to make good decisions in the future.
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