Archives November 2023

Kanban on a page

Definition of Kanban

Kanban is a strategy for optimizing the flow of value through a process that uses a visual, pull-based system. Context is critical in Kanban and the primary step upon which the whole Kanban setup is built. If a team/organization is following the below 3 practices of Kanban, they are doing Kanban. There can be additional practices that teams can adopt along with Kanban practices based on their context however these 3 practices are a MUST.

3 Practices of Kanban

  1. Defining and visualizing a workflow
  2. Actively managing items in a workflow
  3. Improving a workflow

These Kanban practices are collectively called a Kanban system

Those who participate in the value delivery of a Kanban system are called Kanban system members.

Core Concept of Kanban

Flow theory is the foundation of Kanban. Flow is the movement of potential value through a system. The strategy of Kanban is to optimize value by optimizing flow. Optimization does not necessarily imply maximization. Rather, value optimization means striving to find the right balance of effectiveness, efficiency, and predictability in how work gets done.

3 aspects of value optimization – Effectiveness, Efficiency, Predictability

An effective workflow is one that delivers what customers want when they want it.

 An efficient workflow allocates available economic resources as optimally as possible to deliver value.

A more predictable workflow means being able to accurately forecast value delivery within an acceptable degree of uncertainty.

Kanban Measures

Quote – If you can’t measure it, you cannot improve

There are 4 measures in Kaban

  • WIP: The number of work items started but not finished.
  • Throughput: The number of work items finished per unit of time. Note the measurement of throughput is the exact count of work items.
  • Work Item Age: The amount of elapsed time between when a work item started and the current time.
  • Cycle Time: The amount of elapsed time between when a work item started and when a work item finished.


If one has to summarize Kanban in one sentence that would be Kanban is about flow optimization which includes effectiveness, efficiency and predictability. No flow No Kanban.