small medium large xlarge

Real-World Kanban: Do Less, Accomplish More with Lean Thinking


Cover image for Real-World Kanban

Real-World Kanban

Do Less, Accomplish More with Lean Thinking


Your team is stressed; priorities are unclear. You’re not sure what your teammates are working on, and management isn’t helping. If your team is struggling with any of these symptoms, these four case studies will guide you to project success. See how Kanban was used to significantly improve time to market and to create a shared focus across marketing, IT, and operations. Each case study comes with illustrations of the Kanban board and diagrams and graphs to help you see behind the scenes.

Customer Reviews

This is a very practical and to-the-point book on how to implement the Kanban
method. The four case studies turn theory into practice in a very practical and to
the point way. This is a must-read for managers interested in improving end-toend
product development.

- Håkan Forss

Agile Coach, King

Real-World Kanban is a great collection of case studies plus a practical summary
of Lean principles for software development. It shows how adjusting development
to focus on flow and feedback greatly improves efficiency by increasing the value
—rather than the quantity—of the output. The book is loaded with examples of
well-conceived visualization that provides the situational awareness vital for
success in fast-moving environments.

- Mary Poppendieck

, Poppendieck LLC

If you want to know what Kanban looks like in practice, this book is for you!

- Arne Rook

Kanban Pioneer “Dr. Rock” @ Jimdo

See All Reviews

Choose Your Format(s)

  • $19.00 In Stock
  • Ebooks are DRM free.

  • Ebook delivery options.

About this Title

Pages: 138
Published: 2015-06-22
Release: P1.0 (2015-06-23)
ISBN: 978-1-68050-077-6

Learn a Lean approach by seeing how Kanban made a difference in four real-world situations. You’ll explore how four different teams used Kanban to make paradigm-changing improvements in software development. These teams were struggling with overwork, unclear priorities, and lack of direction. As you discover what worked for them, you’ll understand how to make significant changes in real situations.

The four case studies in this book explain how to:

  • Improve the full value chain by using Enterprise Kanban
  • Boost engagement, teamwork, and flow in change management and operations
  • Save a derailing project with Kanban
  • Help an office team outside IT keep up with growth using Kanban

What seems easy in theory can become tangled in practice. Discover why “improving IT” can make you miss your biggest improvement opportunities, and why you should focus on fixing quality and front-end operations before IT. Discover how to keep long-term focus and improve across department borders while dealing with everyday challenges. Find out what happened when using Kanban to find better ways to do work in a well-established company, including running multi-team development without a project office.

You’ll inspire your team and engage management to make it easier to develop better products.

Q&A with Mattias Skarin, author of Real-World Kanban

Q: Does Kanban work in real life?

A: Absolutely. One of the strengths of Kanban is that it’s easy to apply to a range of different contexts. The book contains four in-depth case studies where Kanban was used. In one case, Kanban was applied across the full value stream. In another case, Kanban was used in a back office team outside IT. Being able to see the full picture, and getting focus, better collaboration, and teamwork were some of the benefits reported by our teams in all four cases. Kanban won’t solve problems for you. That’s up to you. In the book, you’ll find plenty of tips and tricks our teams used to do just that.

Q: What will I get from this book?

A: You will get an insight into how the different teams set up their Kanban boards, how they interacted with the board and what worked for them. You will find various tips and tricks our teams used to problem solve across organizational borders. You will learn how we trained management to see strategic improvement opportunities, which helped us avoid “plateauing” after the first Kanban implementation. It also helped management to look beyond existing practices—to see, discuss, and replace old and heavy processes with simpler and better ones.

Q: How do I improve with Kanban?

A: Kanban helps greatly by giving you focus if you respect the board. Kanban can also help you visualize bottlenecks, delays, and quality problems such as rework. But it doesn’t solve them for you. That’s up to you! The good news is that you will find plenty of tips and tricks in the book our teams and managers used to address problems.

Kanban does not tell you what decisions to make or what to pay attention to. You have to look for the right indicators in order to see them. In the Introduction chapter, I share the long-term thinking that helped guide our improvement efforts and helped us train managers to see and close the gap between observation and action.

What You Need

This is a case study book, so there are no software requirements. The book covers the relevant bits of theory before presenting the case studies.


Contents & Extracts

  • Foreword
  • Take Charge and Make Changes
  • Lean Applied – Four Stories of Improving Using Kanban
    • You Hold the Key to Your Future
      • What is Kanban?
      • What is Lean?
      • Find Opportunities to Improve excerpt
      • Improve the Organization With Long-Term Thinking
      • Key Points to Remember
    • Enterprise Kanban: Improve the Full Value Chain
      • The Challenge: Improve Time to Market at Traditional Company
      • How We Got Started
      • How the Process Worked
      • What Lessons We Learned
      • Comparing Now and Before
      • Make Your Own Improvements excerpt
    • Kanban in Change Management
      • The Challenge: Managing Dependencies Without Burning Out
      • How We Got Started
      • How Our Process Worked
      • How We Continuously Improved
      • What Lessons We Learned
      • Comparing Now and Before
      • Make Your Own Improvements
    • Using Kanban to Save a Derailing Project
      • The Challenge: Restoring Trust by Solving the Right Problem
      • How We Got Started
      • How Our Process Worked
      • How We Continuously Improved
      • What Lessons We Learned
      • Comparing Now and Before
      • Make Your Own Improvements
    • Using Kanban in Back Office – Outside IT excerpt
      • The Challenge: Keeping Up With Growth
      • How We Got Started
      • How Our Process Worked
      • How We Continuously Improved
      • What Lessons We Learned
      • Comparing Now and Before
      • Make Your Own Improvements
  • Appendix
    • Introducing Concepts
      • The Elevator pitch
      • What is a Concept?
      • What’s the Big Idea?
      • How to Get Going With Concepts
      • Concept Layout


Mattias Skarin started his journey in software development by asking himself a simple question: how do you succeed with software? He is a professional Lean and Kanban coach and has been helping software companies improve since 2007.