Kanban Katas and Recipes – Kanban Leadership Retreat 2012 session #klrat

You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction. —Alvin Toffler

This session was a follow up on my Kanban Kata session on day 2. I was volunteered to do this session, which I did not mind at all. This session had two topics:

  1. Do we need a vision to get started with Improvement Kata?
  2. Recipes (Katas) for improvement + discussions

My goal for the session was to find some Kanban Katas and Recipes and then start defining the actual steps.

Do we need a vision to get started with Improvement Kata?

But we started the session discussing if a process vision al ’a the Toyota Kata vision is needed to get started. We discussed at length what an actual Toyota Kata really is all about. Is it a regular business mission? A vision for how a process should work?

We looked at what Toyotas vision looked like:

Toyota has for several decades been pursuing a long-term vision that consists of:

  • Zero defects
  • 100 percent value added
  • One-piece flow, in sequence, on demand
  • Security for people

Mike Rother, Toyota Kata

And here are two short exerts from The Toyota Kata book that we did not look at but describes it well I think:

…a vision, or direction giver, is not simply a quantitative target. It is a broad description of a condition we would like to have achieved in the future.

A long-term vision or direction helps focus our thinking and doing, because without it proposals are evaluated independently, instead of as part of striving toward something.

Mike Rother, Toyota Kata

We also discussed if a vision is really needed to get stated. There where two main camps:

  1. You should have a vision before you start
  2. You don’t need a vision

I a vision is important. You should set one and then refine it as you go. I also think you can get started without a clear vision as it more important to get going and practice the Improvement Kata that have the “correct” vision.

We did not arrive at a consensus on this before we moved on to the next topic of the session.

Kanban Kata’s and Recipes

These were the first round of potential recipes and Katas we collected


Kanban Kata’s In-between Kanban Recipes
OPS-review Visualize Process + Lack of Progress + Predicted Completion Define measurers
Show the lead time
Cycle time
Value Stream
Retrospective “Practices” Thrivometer
Daily meeting / queue review   Value Stream Mapping
Improvement Kata   RCA
Kaizen   Board design
Problem solving   Technical issues
Replenishment   Work Item Types

We did not have time dive deeper and define potential steps as we shifted to actually apply the Improvement Kata to the challenge of the session.

Running the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata

Gary Perkerwicz was just brilliant running through the Improvement Kata as a coach and Royd Brayshay as the mentee using the Coaching Kata.

I could swear that at one time I got a Déjà vu moment from my Toyota Kata training with Bill Constantino when I heard the following:

Gary – And when can we go and see?

Royd – Hmm, in one week?!

Gary – And when can we go and see?

Royd squirming not knowing what to answer

Gary – And when can we go and see?

Royd – Tomorrow, I guess?!

Gary – Great see you tomorrow

The focus in Toyota Kata is to run it all the time and in very short cycles(hours or days).

Bellow is a picture of the artifacts we collected from the Improvement Kata session.


We did not get the result in this session as I was hoping for, but people seem happy with the result and I think we all learned a lot by actually running the Improvement and Coaching Kata.

Are the Kanban practices in the right order? – Kanban Leadership Retreat 2012 session #klrat

This was the second session I hosted. Ever since David J. Anderson started to talk of the use of the core practices in terms of shallow vs. deep. I have had the nagging thought that ordering seems to be wrong. I proposed this session to find out if others shared my thinking or found it flawed.

For some time now David J. Anderson has presented the use of the different core Kanban practices is an indication of it’s depth. The more core practices you use the deeper your implementation of the Kanban method would be (including the new number 5).

5 core practices for successful Kanban adoptionThe order being:

  1. Visualize
  2. Limit WIP
  3. Manage Flow
  4. Make polices explicit
  5. Implement Feedback Mechanisms
  6. Improve Collaborative using models and the scientific method

The most shallow implementation would only use practice 1 and as you move down the list the depth of the implementation deepen.

Based on my experience of introducing Kanban in organizations a more appropriate ordering would be:

  1. DSC02346Visualize
  2. Make polices explicit
  3. Manage Flow
  4. Limit WIP
  5. Implement Feedback Mechanisms
  6. Improve Collaborative using models and the scientific method

Johan Nordin and Christophe Achouiantz superb presentation Igniting change in 20 teams within 6 months from Lean Kanban Central Europe 2011 last year also seems to point in that direction.

In the session we discussed the ordering and a few different suggestion to a “correct” way to order the practices where discussed but we did not come reach consensus. Arguments was raised that the depth of the different practices could also vary and that would impact the total depth of the implementation.

As the discussions continued someone suggested (I can’t remember who) that maybe a Radar/Spider Chart would be a more useful model show depth of implementation. Each practice would have a separate leg. The deeper the implementation of that practice the further from the center it would be placed on the chart. Connecting the depth of the different practices would show the total implementation depth. The bigger the area the deeper the implementation.  So we drew this:


There seemed to be a high consensus in the room that this would be a better model. Concerns was raised that this model could push people in to assessing an implementations maturity. Removing the actual tick marks on the legs and only use a relative measure could prevent this thinking. The goal would to grow the area over time but there is no absolute levels defined.

This session turned out to be very interesting for me and it looks like people are experimenting with Radar/Spider Chart already.

David J Anderson Kanban Practices Shallow-Deep  Klaus Leopold Kanban Practices Shallow-Deep

The first picture are from a David J. Anderson class the week after the conference. The second picture is from a class with Klaus Leopold

Kanban Kata – Kanban Leadership Retreat 2012 session #klrat


This was the first session I hosted and my intension for the session was to get answers to the following questions:

  • Validate if the concept of Katas would be useful in Kanban.
  • What would the Kanban Katas be?
  • What would the main steps be in the Kanban Katas?
  • How would we as a community move forward with Kanban Katas?

To set the stage for the discussions I went through a very early draft of a presentation on the subject. I had planed to only spend approximately 30 minutes on this before we moved on to the questions and the discussions. But it turned out that we spent almost the whole 90 minutes to discuss the content of the presentation in it’s self and I even had to skip some slides to complete in time.

We discussed in length the different concepts of the Improvement Kata and the Coaching Kata. We discussed the concept of a process vision from the Improvement Kata and its importance. David J. Anderson even realized that he had used an implicit version of a process vision and process target conditions at Corbis.

At the end of the session we started to touch on the potential Katas in Kanban. In my presentation I suggested that there is at least three Katas that we could start with:

  • The Daily meeting
  • The Operations review meeting
  • A line manager to team manager daily or weekly Improvement and Coaching Kata

We also discussed some other areas. We discussed the use of the word Kata as some of the suggestions did not really fit the Kata concept. A suggestion to use the term recipes was something the attendees seemed to like.


Gauging by the interest and the feedback(see picture above) I received from this session I would say that the Kanban Leadership Retreat attendees would agree with the statement bellow


This session spawned one more session for day 3 with these two topics:

  • Do we need a vision to get started with Improvement Kata?
  • Recipes (Katas) for improvement + discussions

I was very pleased with all the positive response I got and I will continue work in this concept and hope to be able to present the result this fall.

How can we help Kanban go mainstream – Kanban Leadership Retreat 2012 session #klrat

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In this session we talked about how we can help Kanban Crossing the Chasm.

There are signs that Kanban is moving out of the early adopters phase and a new way of getting the message out is needed to grow the use of Kanban and the market.

Crossing the Chasm

Image from the exandin blog

We used the model from the book Crossing the Chasm and started to analyze Kanban and it’s market. By using the model we where able to explore where pieces are missing and how Kanban may be perceived in the market.

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A very interesting session that spawned at least three new sessions for day 3:Recipes for improvement, Compelling reasons to buy Kanban, Explore “whole product solution”

Kanban Leadership Retreat 2012 summary #klrat

This is the second time I have had the great opportunity to attend a Kanban Leadership Retreat organized by David J. Anderson and Associate. The Kanban Leadership Retreat is an invitation only unconference for those who have attended the David J. Anderson and Associates Kanban Leadership/Coaching Workshops and a few notable leaders in the Kanban community.

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This year we meet in the fantastic Mayrhofen in Austria between the 20-22 June. This was my first time in the alps and I just loved it. A small town with lovely people and a great atmosphere. I will definitely try to come back.

This was an unconference which means that there is no predefined sessions. The sessions and the schedule is created by the attendees. The conference days was divided into to parts:

  • A morning session up until lunch
  • An evening session starting at 18:00

From lunch to the evening sessions we had free time. This really created the opportunity for people to continuing the discussions. Many of the most interesting discussions where outside the sessions as usual.

In the  afternoon break most people headed out for some activates in the area. Doing things like hiking, rafting, paragliding or just taking it easy drinking some beer and reflecting on the sessions. I decided to use this time for some bike riding up the mountains as there are so few real up hill challenges in Stockholm. This also gave me time for reflections.

It was great fun but hard work See:Ride 1, Ride 2, Ride 3, Ride 4, Ride 5

IMG_0593[1] DSC02358

DSC02390 DSC02386

Thank you David for the joining me on the second ride and pacing me to the top. It was also great to meet at the top for a beer on my forth ride.

Day 1 – planning

The conference program started with dinner and session planning late on the 20th. Before we headed for a pub we did the schedule for the first day of sessions.

Day 2 – first day of sessions

This was the scheduled sessions for day 2

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Kanban is not just IT
Spreading Kanban to other knowledge work
Squeeze me don’t tease me How can we help Kanban go mainstream – “Crossing the Chasm” overview/planning*
Cool Kanban systems
Holistic view of process
Expand, Expand, Expand, Some Collapse
Lean Startup
Kanban Kata**
How to enable executive decision making
How do we make Kanban useful at the executive level without changing the nature of it(flow)
Shared service teams working on projects, releases AND ongoing work Coaching definition of exit
Identify provocative catalyzation patters
Behavioral change
Approaches to change with Kanban*
Measuring respect for people What the F*** is Pull Portfolio Kanban
Kanban at portfolio level*
Change vs. Transition    

* The sessions I attended. ** the sessions I hosted

This was a very interesting day with lots of interesting session. My session in Kanban Kata went very well and it created a lot of interest. I had planed to run through a presentation and after that dive into defining new Kanban Katas but we ended up discussing the Toyota Kata concept for the whole 90 min and some more Smile

I also found the session on coaching exit criteria to be very interesting.

At the end of day 2 we did some session harvesting and scheduling of the day sessions. As we scheduled session all through the evening we had to extend the day another hour.

Day 3 – second day of sessions

The result of the harvesting was this schedule for day 3

20120622_082806 20120622_082801

Images cutesy of Paul Klipp

Identify provocatory patterns
As a coach/practitioner I want patterns that can help me help people see change is required
Are the practices in the right order? Shallow – Deep** Systemic Flow Mapping + Rightshifting
Compelling reasons to buy Kanban
(“Crossing the Chasm”)
Not unique advantage…
What’s the measure for progress on each reason
??? of change and how to deal with it
(follow up + more in-depth of change vs. transition)
Radical Kaizen
How to improve leadership culture by introducing Kanban *
Explore “whole product solution”
From crossing the chasm
Behavioral change* #fail, #wtf, #epic
LKU’s strategic direction – what si it?
– growth hypothesis
– customer (who is) hypothesis
– revenue generation and retention hypothesis
Shared services teams working on projects, releases and ongoing work * Lightning Experience Reports
– 5 min * 6
– Lessons learned
  Do we need a vision to get started with Improvement Kata?

Recipes (Katas) for improvement + discussions**


* The sessions I attended. ** the sessions I hosted

For me day 3 was very much focused around the two sessions I hosted.

First the session if the ordering of the Kanban practices are in the right order when David talk about a shallow vs. a deep Kanban implementation. We discussed the ordering and ended up with a spider chart to indicate shallow vs. deep. Interesting and fun.

The second session I hosted was on Recipes and/or Katas for Kanban. This was a follow up on my Kanban Kata session. My goal was to find some recipes and/or Katas and the start defining the actual steps but that was not to be. We started of discussing if a process vision al ’a the Toyota Kata vision. We did not arrive at a consensus and there was some disagreement what a Toyota Kata vision or a true north really meant. We collected some potential recipes and Katas but we did not have time dive deeper as we shifted to actually apply the Improvement Kata to the challenge of the session. Gary Perkerwicz was just brilliant running through the Improvement Kata and the Coaching Kata. We did not get the result I was hoping for but people seem happy with the result.

DSC02329 DSC02352

The conference hall and the view from one of the conference rooms

After the last session we did a retrospective of the conference. People where very happy with the conference in general and the session contentment in particular.

One of the most notable suggestion of improvement was of the planning and sessions selection. A few people, me included, suggested to move to a Open Space format with some suggested theme. People also asked for a schedule that would allow for more unplanned breakout sessions. There was some complaints of poor internet connectivity at the hotels. But all in all people was very happy with the conference. I do truly agree.

This was probably the best conference I have been to so far. It was also very inspiring that so many people found my sessions interesting, even to the degree that Kanban training classes will be changed!


In the coming days I will post more detailed notes and reflections from the different sessions I attended so stay tuned.

Related posts:

How can we help Kanban go mainstream – “Crossing the Chasm” overview/planning

Kanban Kata