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Kanban [Paperback]

David J. Anderson
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 58.10 & FREE Shipping. Details
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3.0 out of 5 stars Lack of clarity April 10 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
The book needs a rewrite. The author has hopefully by now become more amiable towards the rest of Agile practitioners. According to some reviews, "Kanban in Action" is an easier read than this book.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  61 reviews
41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is not just for technology people, and it's great July 12 2010
By Ric Merrifield - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I don't do technology development, most of the work that I do is on the business side of the organization, understanding requirements through business process and business architecture (as described in the pages of the book Rethink).

Starting as early as the foreword, there are great takeaways in every section of this book which is a very quick read. I will admit that I skimmed some of the software development segments because that's not what I do, but here's a breakout by some of the early chapters:

FOREWORD - the notion of the importance of batch size is vital when looking at organizational constraints. It's something Goldratt never addressed in the initial Theory of Constraints, but it's a great point. There's a lot more about that as the book moves along, but it's a great first point.

CHAPTER ONE - Context is vital when identifying organizational constraints. If someone goes into a meeting and points out that something is constraining the organization, even if they may be right, the other people in the room may have a different context and dismiss the newly identified constraint. Chapter one also goes into good depth about seeing that no two projects or teams are the same, and that there are specific, quantifiable risks in how you compare them.

CHAPTER TWO - Here is one of two chapters where Anderson does a great job of stepping outside of the work environment to explain that the notion of kanban, which literally means signal cards to indicate when it's OK to proceed with work, applies to lots of situations in the outside world, and his example of the cards they hand out to entrants to a park in Japan, and then collect when they leave, as a very simple and low cost way of managing the attendance capacity of the park. With such a clear example, the core idea of kanban, Anderson ensures that the reader understands one of the most basic ideas of the book.

CHAPTER THREE - This is where the book starts to get really quantitative about measuring and optimizing the throughput of work, and here's where Anderson gets into one of the other core ideas of the book which is to limit and manage the amount of work in progress (WIP). As he points out (graphically) there is a linear relationship between WIP and average lead time, which he explains very clearly. The other big point he makes in this chapter is that there is a non-linear relationship between defects and the quantity of WIP, which means the more WIP, the higher the defect rate.

CHAPTER 11 - After several chapters about continuous improvement, how you go about limiting WIP, and more software development related cycles (which broadly still apply to non-tech people as well in terms of managing efficiency), Anderson then gets into a subject that I think is vital, which is identifying the Class-of-Service definitions for objects of work, which include Expedite, Fixed Delivery Date, Standard Class, and Intangible (which he admits is probably not the best word for it), and in my experience it is so important to have those sorts of definitions attached to blocks of work, I am confident that I will use them as he defines them. While he does talk about process definition and how you need to make processes strict and policy based, I happen to think those belong more in the realm of business architecture because business capabilities as artifacts are so much more durable than processes (as defined in the classic Hammer & Champy model).

There's a lot more in this book, but it's so clear and so well written I think a lot of business people, as well as technology people can learn a lot from this book and start applying it to their work immediately.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version quality Oct. 11 2011
By adam p - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am new to this field of knowledge and yet, the style and the contents of this book was digestible. As a daily practitioner of different levels of support, defect resolving - a self managing all-in-one team - I've got hints from this book to implement my Kanban system. There were substantial amount of links to pieces of literature in the book, including personal Kanban.

I've read the paperback version of the book first than decided to buy the Kindle version. The picture quality was not daunting in the paper version either, but in the Kindle book the pictures are useless. The picture format is jpeg and it has color information too, which adds up to space required and has no added value on the grayscale display. The text is unreadable on the pictures as jpeg is the worst lossy format for this purpose.

The books contents is superb. The practical advice in the book helps in implementing your own Kanban. The theoretical background is strong and empowers the reader to dive in the cited literature on the field of SPC (statistical process control) and on other highlighted topics in the body of knowledge of management.
The only problem I've found is the poor quality of pictures in the Kindle version. Hope it will get fixed!
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Authoritative guide to Kanban April 24 2010
By Yuval Yeret - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
David provides a comprehensive guide to implementing Kanban in a software development/maintenance environment.
Covering the mechanics, dynamics, principles and rationale behind why Kanban is a so promising framework for managing the work of a variety of teams and groups and being an evolutionary-based change management driver.

Kanban is the practical approach to implement Lean Software Development, and this book is the practical guide for how to start using Kanban, and how to adapt the system for advanced needs.

The book is clear and flowing, even though it covers some quite technical material. I would recommend it to Development managers, Project/Program managers, Agile Coaches/Consultants. It addresses concerns/needs of Novice as well as those already familiar with Kanban and looking for advanced answers.

Even if you don't intend to implement a kanban system, there are a lot of techniques and ideas that are easily applicable to any product development/maintenance environment, agile or not.

Bottom line, highly recommended.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best introduction to SW Kanban Dec 30 2010
By Bas Vodde - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was looking forward to David Anderson's book. While I wasn't enthusiastic about his previous book: Agile Management, I liked his new work and the balanced view on change he is promoting. It all made me curious.

I've not been disappointed. Kanban is a readable and balanced book which introduces the Kanban method of bringing improvement and change to organizations. It is well written (better than his previous book, IMHO) and well-argued with many cases from David's own experience and from other people in the growing Kanban community. It is and will probably stay the definitive reference for the SW Kanban method.

The book consists of four parts. The first part is a short introduction to the subject. The second part is called "benefits of Kanban," but it better describes its history (from David's perspective). The third part is more of less a description of the Kanban method itself (called "implementing Kanban") and the last part contains several background improvement theories which the reader ought to know about when implementing Kanban.

Part two is called "benefits of Kanban" and is more or less a history of how Kanban has evolved. Chapter three is what the author calls "the recipe of success" and its David's opinion on what you need to do in order to build good and predictable software. I didn't like this chapter too much as it had a "just do this and everything will be ok" tone which I also found in his previous book. Chapter 4 introduces the work David has been done at Microsoft and how he improved a team without changing the process but by managing the WIP, an interesting story. Chapter 5 described David's work at Corbis where he continued his earlier Microsoft experiences and extended (or actually created) SW Kanban.

Part three describes the different aspects of Kanban. It starts with analyzing the existing processes, visualize it and then decide the boundaries of what is inside the Kanban scope and what is considered the outside world. The "outside world" works with the Kanban team based on SLA and releases based on a steady cadence (chapter 8 and 9). From chapter 12 the book covers less known Kanban topics such as classes of service, different reporting, scaling and operational reviews. Chapter 15 is then the actual "implementing Kanban" that suggests how you can move forward and implement these ideas in practice.

Part four covers broadly said three different improvement models: Theory of Constraints, Lean, and Deming. Each chapter provides a minimum introduction into the subject and suggests the reader to use these different models for making the gradual improvements in their processes. Chapter 20, the last chapter, discusses handling obstacles that need to be resolved quickly in order to make improvements.

There were a couple of things I liked a lot about this book... and a couple of things I didn't like and disagreed with the author. One of the things I disagreed with was the hidden suggestion that the problem of building quality software has been a solved problem. I got this feeling from the way he mentions things like professional testers, CMMi as obvious and barely covers e.g. integration. The book contains very little (nothing) about the actual development of software. But, as this isn't the main topic of the book, it doesn't matter that much... The thing that did bothered me was the suggestion that all works flows sequentially and that one activity has one purpose. I got this feeling from the way e.g. analysis topics were handled or how the last chapters talked about an activity being waste or not... for example estimation. Though, I agree that estimation might/might not be waste, during the process of estimating there is often requirement discovery ongoing, which is very valuable. However the side-effect of activities wasn't covered well and, I felt, it was assume that activities have one purpose and flow sequentially. That said, it might not have been the author's intention and just my sensitivity to this.

Then, the things I liked a lot about the book. One thing I really liked is how David positioned Kanban not as a SW development method but as an incremental (evolutionary) improvement paradigm. This book definitively challenged my own assumptions about change and how change ought to happen. Kanban tries to avoid change resistance by not making the change, visualizing the current processes and then making the change obvious to the people involved. I do think it has some drawbacks, but definitively like the approach. This message isn't given at one particular point, but it is the common theme of the book and of the Kanban method. Well thought of and also... well written. Another things I liked about the book is how David constantly refers back to his own experiences. This is not a book that says "hey, I got an idea, lets try this", but its a book where the author reflects on his history (together with the reader) and uses that to explain how he got to certain conclusions. Well done.

All in all, this book will definitively be the standard reference for Kanban. I was thinking between a four and a five star rating. I decided to go with four stars for the couple of things I didn't like. Anyways, definitively recommended for anyone who wants to know more about SW Kanban.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars kanban implementation manual July 1 2010
By Sameh Zeid - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The next review represents my own views and reflections after reading this book.

From my experience I found that there are people who manage with authority and people who manage with little or no authority. The later are the project managers and process improvement specialists, I call this the grey zone. These people are normally the fastest to let go by managers who have authority and who like to keep technical people as they really do something.

If you are one of those in the grey zone, this book can be particularly helpful. This book provides a guide to implement activities for lean based management of software delivery.

The book covers the whole breadth of Kanban as evolutionary system for software delivery that involves high degree of variation. It leaves the specifics to those who implement the system as they depend on the context.

Though Kanban was originated from manufacturing, which can make this subject less appealing to software developers, the book is focused on Complex Adaptive System and Knowledge Work.

There is case-study for Kanban process improvement for an off-shore company that resonated with me. I wish this book was available when I was in-charge of an off-shore software development centre in 2001.

For me the book was not easy-read, and I guess this should be the case with manuals and field books. It requires study and reflections, however, I would benefit from keeping it on my desk for hands-on guidance.

The book describes changes initiated by the team rather than dictated by management. The point is changes made by the team is an Agile principle which can result in sustained improvements.

The book covers the how-to's for establishing the various components of a Kanban system, for example Input Cadence, WIP limit, SLA, Metrics and others.

Every chapter represents a component in Kanban implementation. Therefore, it is better to read the whole book in-order to get the puzzles fit together.

The book describes six steps in logical sequence that help the manager to start her improvement journey. The earlier steps address activities which are within the control of the manager.

This book is pragmatic and acts as field book for those in grey zone in-order to produce value which cannot be delivered by technical people or authority.
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