Kanban - what's the hype about?

As some of you already know (those ones who follow me on twitter - @liveweird), I’ve finished reading the book I had mentioned before - David Anderson’s "Kanban". And … I’m a bit puzzled. I don’t really get what’s all the hype about.

Btw., if you don’t know what Kanban is, you should start with reading the short description on Wikipedia.

So, first things first - Kanban is not a methodology. Nope. It’s just the mindset modification, process adjustment that can help you with optimizing the software development (but not only!) regardless of what actual methodology you use. So there are no new roles, no assumed artifacts, no "carved-in-stone" processes. Just a bunch of rules that will help you in doing what you already do, but better.

What is the silver bullet^M^M^M^M, erhm… what are the Kanban rules, I mean. Short stuff:

  • visualize the worlflow
  • minimize WIP (work in progress)
  • manage the workflow
  • make sure that you have the common understanding of the process
  • evolutionary improve (kaizen)

Aaand that's it. Shocked? Did the previous lines change your life forever? Have you been enlightened maybe? Damn, you either …

Being brutally straightforward, Kanban is about drawing swimlanes on the whiteboard, sticking the post-its and making sure that there are not too many of them in the same time. Yes, that’s Kanban. This is a visualization method that can help you locate bottlenecks so you can plan buffers, re-adjust resource numbers, etc.

Don’t misunderstand me - neither Kanban itself nor Anderson’s book are utter crap (you can find some interesting thoughts there - for example about the backlogs’ lifecycles), but after all the hype and enthusiastic comments on the internet I’ve expected much more. And now I think that the average quality of project managers in the world has to be very low, because they find minimizing WIP as a game changer… That should be obvious for anyone who had a chance to lead any project.

What are you thoughts? Any of you already tried Kanban or have any other Kanban experience? Am I oversimplifying it?

Pic: Wikipedia