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Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life by [Barry, Tonianne DeMaria, Jim Benson]
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Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Length: 218 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Product Description

Product Description

Machines need to be productive. People need to be effective. Productivity books focus on doing more, Jim and Tonianne want you to focus on doing better. Personal Kanban is about choosing the right work at the right time. Recognizing why we do the things we do. Understanding the impact of our actions. Creating value - not just product. For ourselves, our families, our friends, our co-workers. For our legacy. Personal Kanban takes the same Lean principles from manufacturing that led the Japanese auto industry to become a global leader in quality, and applies them to individual and team work. Personal Kanban asks only that we visualize our work and limit our work-in-progress. Visualizing work allows us to transform our conceptual and threatening workload into an actionable, context-sensitive flow. Limiting our work-in-progress helps us complete what we start and understand the value of our choices. Combined, these two simple acts encourage us to improve the way we work and the way we make choices to balance our personal, professional, and social lives. Neither a prescription nor a plan, Personal Kanban provides a light, actionable, achievable framework for understanding our work and its context. This book describes why students, parents, business leaders, major corporations, and world governments all see immediate results with Personal Kanban.

About the Author

Jim Benson's 20 years since university have seen him build light rail systems and neighborhoods as a urban planner, enterprise software and web sites for major government agencies as the owner of Gray Hill Solutions, and, most recently, as a collaborative management consultant helping create better working environments for teams of all sizes. The common thread in his history has the physical, regulatory, technological, emotional and political boundaries of community. Jim has worked with corporate, government, and not-for-profit organizations of all sizes. Taking Lean principles from manufacturing and Agile methodologies from software design, Jim Benson and Modus Cooperandi help individuals, teams, and organizations design collaborative systems. These systems are often built using social media technology as an enabler for communication and collaboration. Tonianne DeMaria Barry’s consulting career spans the fashion industry and government agencies, non-profit associations and Fortune 100 corporations, start-ups and international development. Her academic training in history lends itself well to management consulting, where she contends that especially in business, the present value of the past is often under-appreciated. Forever asking Why and How things happen, she helps her clients uncover, analyze, and interpret their institutional artifacts. Leveraging the stories and values embedded within an organization’s culture, she helps individuals use their history to establish priorities, achieve goals, and make informed and innovative decisions. Much like Personal Kanban itself, she wants her clients to acknowledge their past and present contexts, appreciate the interconnectedness and flow of events, and extract lessons from the patterns which emerge so they can better plan for the future.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1269 KB
  • Print Length: 218 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1453802266
  • Publisher: Modus Cooperandi Press (Jan. 3 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004R1Q642
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #55,952 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As a dedicated list maker I've tried lots of different methods to give my lists context, and none has come close to doing what I need. Personal Kanban does a fantastic job of making the Toyota method relevant to knowledge work, and it has revolutionized my ability to get stuff done, and see it all in context. To-do lists are like chess, and personal Kanbans are like the 3D chess from Star Trek. Only instead of being indecipherable, you're suddenly as smart as Spock. Does that make me a nerd? So be it.
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The book is criticized for rambling, but frankly it is unfair: the book thoroughly explains its reasons for everything it says and offers principles rather than doctrine. Hence, it is much more valuable than these other reviews realize.

When I say it is wordy and repetitive, I do not mean that aspect. I simply mean that certain phrases were said 20 times too often, and certain ideas were repeated as though they were not already said. More ground could have been covered by trusting the reader to remember and reference earlier parts.

Quite a good book, but wordy and repetitive. I would be eager to find a second edition, thinned down 20% and then expanded based on user feedback.

Well done, Jimmy 😀
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Though the book provides some interesting information on work and activity management, it over sells the Personal Kanban as a silver bullet to life's problems.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa0d63e58) out of 5 stars 125 reviews
123 of 123 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0e9f9f0) out of 5 stars Life Management from Two Simple Rules April 30 2015
By Gary Lerude - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've followed and tried virtually all the time management and productivity techniques and tools since I first found career and life demands were more than I could keep up with in my head. With each one I've fallen prey to losing sight of the end goal and becoming compulsive about the tool or technique -- however not compulsive enough to keep it working for me. With time, the overhead of managing the tool bogs me down. Now a month or two into the Personal Kanban technique, using KanbanFlow as the online tool, I'm holding my own. I think the difference is the core tenet of limiting your WIP, so I can't become overwhelmed (although I may frustrate those who are trying to push WIP into my flow).

Aside from the practice, the book is clear and practical, with doses of philosophy stirred in with the practicality. It's definitely worth a read, and the technique is easy to try. See if it works for you.
239 of 248 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0e9fc3c) out of 5 stars Converted Cynic April 28 2011
By Dan Leone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have seen it all. From the primitive todo to the philistine Covey to digital GTD to the nothing-there ZTD, I am confident saying that there is nothing I have wasted more of my time on than studying how not to waste more of my time. I have active accounts with AppoloHQ, Nirvana, Producteev, HiTask, RTM, TeamLab, PlanBox and a gazillion other task management websites. I approach each of these methodologies and implementations with a cynical eye. I do not inherently trust any "system" and quickly pshaw them right out of the box. But I hang on. I hang on to the hope that as my brain begins to drop more information than it picks up, I will eventually find something that will work.

The prerequisites are simple:

1. No part of this process should take more than 10 minutes to implement
2. It needs to be visual
3. It needs to be visible!
4. I should never be in a position where I say "If only I had an internet connection" or "If only I had my laptop" or "If only my Circa Rhodia pad come unlined."
5. At the "end of the day," I need to be able to report on and measure my performance. We are all accountable for what we produce. My goals are directly tied to what I can accomplish.
6. It's got to FEEL good. Metrics aside, if it is ugly, cumbersome or "kludgy," it will never be a tool for me. I seek beauty through simplicity.
7. It can't be binary. Use it or not, there has to be room for a transition.
8. It should not be mutually exclusive to any other system. If I want to implement Next Actions or Covey's big rocks/little rocks, or a universal capture tool (ie Evernote), then nothing should stop me from doing that.

Perhaps those prerequisites were not so simple after all as it seems that no one was able to meet those criteria. Then came a breath of fresh air within the pages of Personal "Kanban - Mapping Work | Navigating Life." What Tonianne and Jim have done is create the most unnecessary book ever. Because with no more than a few words, anyone can begin using Personal Kanban within a few minutes. Of course, far from an unnecessary book, this book expands on the methodology with insight into how PK evolved from Lean manufacturing principles. It proceeds to discuss the human side of why things don't get done which is the ultimate Achilles' heel for many people...certainly my Achilles' heel.

What PK has managed to do for me is bypass the normal procrastination techniques, missing organizational DNA and the inability to hold greater than two items in my head simultaneously. PK is becoming my "staging area." It is the first thing I do in the morning as I make conscious decisions about what must happen by the end of the day. It feels as natural as what all of us do when we scribble a note on a post-it and stick it to our monitor. But instead of a collage of post-its, PK takes simplicity and mashes it with effectiveness to create a disarmingly simple process.

Tonianne and Jim have done all this in a well-written book with simple examples but it is NOT an oversimplification. It is real, it is beautiful, it is doable and it is waiting for you. Pick up the book today and stay tuned for wonderful to happen.

UPDATE: One year later and I still find myself returning to PK as my method of "Mapping my work." I still investigate other methods and am forced to follow another approach at work, but find myself craving and returning to PK. I Have since reread the book 2 more times and am still picking up new information. I have recommended it to friends and coworkers. When all around me seems to spin out of control, it is so refreshing to turn around in my seat and see my personal Kanban board waiting for me. I have a "customized" whiteboard at work where I've used artist's tape to create my lanes and I bought my own colorful sticky notes, sized appropriately for my writing style. Each color represents a separate project. If I do nothing else but LIMIT MY WORK IN PROGRESS, I already begin to breathe easier. The grace of this system cannot be overstated.
102 of 113 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0e9fc00) out of 5 stars A good idea sold in too many pages Aug. 27 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book in a nutshell: create a backlog of your work, add a kanban board (columns: "backlog", "ready", "in progress", "done"), limit your work in progress to a number you determine by trial and error and retrospect periodically to understand what factors influence you to be effective/ineffective for a certain type of task. Adapt.

I think the process suggested (previously defined by David Anderson in his Kanban book; previously developed by Toyota for manufacturing) is valuable, and has made me give up my to-do lists. On the other hand, I don't think you need a whole book to explain it, a simple (if longer) blog post would be sufficient.

The idea I found most valuable was to strive for effectiveness rather than productivity. That is: try to get things done instead of trying to keep yourself busy.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0e9fef4) out of 5 stars Brilliant Insightful Practical Feb. 11 2014
By Kim Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
So, I have finally discovered why I make todo lists and then just ignore them.

Why my self imposed deadlines become meaningless.

Why I used to be really productive and effective and the last few years have not.

Why I have felt so exasperatingly overwhelmed even on days when there is nothing I actually have to do.

Not just another time management system (I have plenty), but a way out of the stress and overwhelm of work that keeps coming at me. Of incomplete tasks nagging at me and keeping me awake.

This book deals with the disconnect between our brains and the modern multitasking/deadline driven world. It is well written a doable.

I loved the system, I have implemented it, I am sleeping better. My backlog of projects hasn't disappeared, but somehow making them tangible has also made them manageable...and I am actually getting to them one by one.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0e9ff54) out of 5 stars "Machines Need to be Productive. People Need to be Effective." July 22 2011
By Adam Yuret - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Personal Kanban changed the way I think about everything I do.

We all feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to fulfill our commitments to work and family life. How often do we find ourselves saying "I am so busy, I can't seem to get anything done!" How can it be possible to busily accomplish nothing?

When we maintain a large backlog of existential overhead we feel stressed because we don't feel like we're making progress. Thanks to the Zeigarnik effect we focus inordinately on unfinished tasks. When we finish a task it is flushed out of our thoughts because we're constantly focused on the unfinished pile.

Personal Kanban offers a deceptively simple solution to these stresses. Take all the tasks currently occupying that ball of stress in your mind, write them down on sticky-notes and stick them to a board. By writing them down you're able to see that they're not all equally important. You remove them from the amorphous stress ball inside your psyche and stick them to the wall. Suddenly you enjoy the clarity brought by simply visualizing precisely what it is you need to accomplish. A Kanban is a signboard where you visualize your work. In it's simplest form a kanban board contains 3 columns: "Ready", "Doing" and "Done".

I generally reject dogmatic and/or complicated concepts. What Jim and Tonianne have written in Personal Kanban is neither. There are only 2 rules:

1. Visualize your work

2. Limit your Work in Progress (WIP)

I've explained the backlog already, one of the benefits of this backlog is that you can now easily see what needs to be done, and prioritize those tasks according to what's most important to you at the time. Once you've prioritized your tasks you can start pulling those tasks into your "Doing" column. If you moved every task into doing at the same time you'd essentially have created a visualization of the amorphous stress-ball you had previously stored in your head. This would not have much value. So we limit our work in progress.

This book gives some good rules of thumb and suggestions (a WIP limit of no more than 3 is a rule of thumb) but it doesn't say "There is one right way to do this." or "If you do this wrong you're a failure."

It is a breath of fresh air to see authors/experts admit that all things are context driven. Everybody is different. You might do best by only doing 2 tasks at a time or maybe you'd enjoy doing 4. The theory behind limiting WIP suggests that by doing fewer tasks at one time, you'll be able to increase your throughput. Some great analogies are drawn between what a freeway's capacity is, vs it's throughput. When we do less at a given time, we get more done at a higher rate of speed.

Finally when we move the task into the done column we get to celebrate our small successes. A full "done" column feels good. You no longer focus solely on your unfinished work.

This book is a fun read that will make your life both happier and more productive. It acknowledges that productivity without happiness is not a desirable way to live. Being stressed all the time impacts the quality and speed of our work.

Jim and Tonianne have written a book with the potential to change the way you live and work, while putting a greater focus on your own happiness. All that and a great story about a poodle too!