It’s true: we can all get more done if we adopt Kanban boards, as this piece in TechRepublic argues. While todo lists are good, Kanban boards give you more. They show you your backlog (more or less your todo list). But they also show you todos in progress and what state they are in. That’s good. They’re more flexible than a project plan, which is great for when you aren’t sure of what it takes to get done. In effect, they lie somewhere between a todo list and a project plan.
Kanban boards are also good for prioritizing long lists of todos. The tasks that leave the backlog are the ones you have decided are the most important. That’s useful, especially if you are trying to communicate to someone else what is happening and what is on hold.
Kanban boards also give you a sense of progress. Sure there may be lots of things to do, but over time the Done column fills up. It can give you a real sense of accomplishment.
They have weaknesses though. If the tasks you include are too big, they may sit in one column for a long time. If the tasks are too small, they move quickly from backlog to done. That said, those weaknesses can turn into strengths. Items that are too big should be broken down into parts. Small items can be lumped together with larger items or left off all together.
There’s lots of ways to create a Kanban board. Simply sticky notes can work. You can use a window or whiteboard or even fridge to attached them too. You can also use software tools. You can set up a spreadsheet with the various columns. You can use a tool like Workflowy to manage them. Trello boards are another source. You can even build your own, like I did using IBM Cloud years ago.
While it may seem that they are tools for IT only, they actually can be used by anyone. For anything. Moving your home? Use a Kanban tool. Planning a trip? Kanban it. Staging a big event? Well, you know.
So get out your todo list or your project plan and turn it into a Kanban board. You will see results soon enough.
(Image from the TechRepublic article)