Why Learn Kanban Ace?

I. What is Agile?

Agile is a mindset, and a way of doing things that enables us to quickly respond to change, and deliver value in spite of uncertainty. Agile's way of doing things focuses on delivering value. Value here means delivering things the customer needs, or wants from us. 

Why we need Agile?

The Problem

Before the Agile Manifesto in the 1980s and 1990s there was a trend to use traditional Project Management & Engineering tools like Gantt charts, MS Project, PERT and the Critical Path Method to manage software projects. In addition complex or “heavy” methodologies like Waterfall and RUP were in fashion.

The problem is that building software is not like building a house or a bridge. Most of the effort is invisible, only user interfaces are visible and that is a small portion of the effort. 

In addition building a software solution implies that the problem is well known, and users know exactly what they want. However this is seldom the case, users have an idea of what they want, but as they see the screens or the software working they usually will change their minds, sometimes completely! Add to this the pressures of the market and you have 21st century business: heavy competition, fickle users, and change everywhere. Many times it feels like driving in a foggy road, where you know very few things for certain, yet you must move forward.

 curvy=No wonder is hard to develop software with tools made to build buildings! We need Agile!

The Agile Movement

On February 11, 2001, 17 Software Professionals met at Snowbird Ski Resort, in Utah, to discuss how their Light Weight methods to run and manage Software projects could solve the nightmare that heavy methodologies, and old engineering tools had created.

First they discussed their own solutions to learn from each other, represented on the meeting were several Light-Weight methods: Adaptive Software Development, Scrum, Crystal, Extreme Programming, DSDM, Pragmatic Programming and Feature Driven Development. Later they found common ground, common values and principles. Their efforts became the seed of the Agile Movement which today touches areas even beyond IT, and their conclusions and main points became the Agile Manifesto:

Agile Manifesto PictureWe are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more.

Highlighted above are the 4 Agile Values: People and Communications, Working Software, Collaboration and Embracing Change. In addition the Agile Manifesto identified 12 Principles to take those values into practice.

Agile itself is not any individual method like Scrum, XP, Crystal or even Kanban. Agile, as previously stated is a mindset and a way of doing things, expressed in a set of values and principles to deliver on its vision of working software, increased productivity and value. An easy way to visualize and understand this is to see our Agile Pyramid on the right, below, and click on it to zoom.

II. What is Kanban Ace?

Agile Pyramid by AgileLion Institute

In short Kanban Ace is an Agile method, just like Extreme Programming, Scrum or Crystal. This means Kanban is a way to achieve Agility for Software Development or IT while focusing on delivering value just as the Agile Manifesto writers intended.

The Lean Contribution

The Lean Movemement is central to Kanban Ace, and it makes it unique, and different from the majority of other agile methods. Lean's focus is to minimize waste, while delivering value. So Lean questions every activity, and reminds us that the purpose is to deliver, not to just be busy.

Lean was born in Toyota, and Taiichi Ohno literally wrote the book on it: the Toyota Production System. Another valuable contribution comes from  Eliyahu M. Goldratt whose book the Goal introduced the Theory of Constraints, a way to analyze and improve any system by leveraging the key factors that influence it's performance. The last major influence are the later works from W. Edwards Deming who is the father of System Thinking, an approach that sees improvement as dependent on our ability to understand and influence whole systems, not just small areas.

Kanban Ace Unique's Advantages

Kanban Ace builds on top of Lean's major influences mentioned above by adding a select group of values, principles, methods and techniques that makes them actionable and useful for Software Development, IT, Business, Management, Marketing, Design or any innovative business or creative area. 

Here are some strong reasons to consider Kanban Ace part of your toolset to deliver solutions:

  • First Kanban Ace is both Agile & Lean, and is designed for simplicity and effectivenes, being able to improve the productivity of any organization or project. Kanban Ace starts with Open Kanban know-how and adds additional techniques and tools to answer the needs of people in IT, Software Development, marketing and management.
  • Second Kanban Ace is more than just a methodology; it is a new way to manage work. Kanban Ace welcomes leadership from all areas of IT including Project Managers, Development Managers, CTOs, and CIOs to deliver value in an effective way that makes the most of their resources, their budget, and their team.
  • Third Kanban Ace embraces Technical Excellence. While Scrum, LKU Kanban and other methods argue that Technical Excellence can be left out; we disagree, it is a major mistake to ignore technical excellence. How many times have you had to deal with a flawed product not because of bad project management, but because of horrible technical execution? Like wearing a defective parka in winter, or having your favorite app crash in front of you, technical excellence is not optional, is a must to deliver quality solutions everywhere. Kanban Ace prevents this by adding techniques related to Technical Excellence such as software Release Management, Test Driven Development, and portfolio level dashboards to organize work, in addition we welcome Extreme Programming and the wealth of knowledge it brings to IT.
  • Fourth Kanban Ace is fully up to date with the latest knowledge and practices from both the Agile and Lean movements, honed into a coherent method that focuses on Software Development, IT and innovative business. We work with other methods and bring the best of them. Kanban Ace includes full support for Scrum via the Akashi bridge, and we can work with SAFe as well to scale agility,

Finally we wanted to list some of the benefits Kanban Ace provides to different professionals who decide to learn it and apply it:

  • For Project Managers you will be able to see and know what is going on in your projects in minutes, not hours. Work will be visible and manageable. No more hours spent trying to manage a project using MS Project or Excel.
  • For Developers it will empower you to contribute to the development effort in a visual way, and it will highlight your ideas and input to the team. In addition the Kanban Ace method will ensure a sustainable pace for your efforts.
  • For Managers and VPs it will allow you to see the big picture of a project or operation, and in addition it will help you improve all of it to make your department, your team more productive and effective.
  • For Entrepreneurs. It allows you to learn faster, and to adapt to the marketplace. Eric Ries, leader of the Lean Startup movement recommends it
  • For Agile or Lean Coaches and Consultants it will allow you to offer your customers a fresh Agile & Lean alternative that is easy to implement, but very powerful. Unlike Scrum, the Kanban Ace method does not need new roles, or radical changes. Instead Kanban Ace provides you a smooth and visual way to improve continuously with a minimum of overhead.

III. Our Kanban Ace Classes 

What our Kanban Ace classes deliver to you:

Like a precision watch, Kanban Ace gears improve your flow and process dramatically.

  • The ability to understand the Agile and Lean movements, and how their ideas help you manage your work, or project better.
  • A full explanation of Open Kanban values and practices, which is the base of Kanban Ace. A minimal and effective way to manage your business or IT project.
  • Practical explanations of how to use Kanban boards whether electronic or physical ones to manage work, to make efforts visible, and to involve all your team in continuous improvement of your work.
  • Knowledge of advanced techniques from Kanban Ace such as  Kanban Gears to take your team, your department or organization to a much higher level of efficiency and productivity.
  • Full compatibility with Scrum via the Akashi bridge, which provides a seamless way to adopt Kanban Ace in Scrum teams, and to leverage the best of both.
  • A mindset and tools to lead your team to achieve success, while keeping their morale strong and their health intact. Thanks to the Kanban Ace Shield technique.

Finally here are few other advantages of our Kanban Ace training itself:

  • Our classes are delivered online, anywhere in the world.
  • Our classes are live, not recorded, so you can ask questions to the Kanban Ace Coach anytime.
  • Full HD video recordings of every class are made available, so you can review your class anytime.
  • All the presentation slides are given to our students in PDF format.
  • We encourage participation, questions, and we tailor our live class with your input.
  • Our Certificate of Completion. After participating in all your class sessions.

Finally for those wishing to enhance their professional credentials we offer the Certified Kanban Ace class. Unlike other certifications, ours is based on responding a realistic IT business case with the knowledge and techniques learned in our Kanban Ace classes. No memorization needed, just a clear demonstration of your skills.

So there you have it, many reasons why the Kanban Ace method is worth learning! Kanban Ace makes Agile and Lean simpler to achieve, and delivers a valuable way to succeed in today's changing world. We hope these reasons motivate you to consider taking a class with us.

Image credts: Foggy Road by Sykez Tom. Watch mechanism by Alex Brown. Both licensed via Creative Commons.