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What Is Scaled Kanban?

Originally developed as a Lean manufacturing concept, Kanban is an Agile framework that helps streamline and manage work by utilizing available capacity and balancing it with project demands.

But what is Scaled Kanban? Scaled Kanban is an Agile approach that recommends executing Kanban consistently across the organization. This concept was introduced by Klaus Leopold in his presentation at the Lean Kanban Central Europe 2014 Conference.

No organization uses all Agile methodologies. Instead, teams prefer applying the approach that best suits their working styles, project needs, and organizational content. Since Kanban is a flexible framework, it is pretty simple to scale it across the organization to achieve business agility.

How organizations can apply the Scaled Kanban approach

Use this simple 9-step process to apply scaled Kanban to your team or company. Apply systems thinking and focus on the entire organization rather than its smaller, individual departments.

1.     Start with a smaller scope and understand the needs of the existing situation

2.     Assess the environment around your team and project

3.     Match the actual work processes with the ideal team workflows

4.     Outline process policies to help the team handle any potential obstacles

5.     Include regular stand-ups and retrospectives to increase open collaboration and transparency

6.     Apply WIP limits to smoothen the flow of work and shorten feedback loops

7.     Adopt a culture of consistent improvement

8.     Offer a regular back-to-basics teaching approach to help teams implement Kanban effectively

9.     Set up a sustainable Scaled Kanban system through constant reflection, regular engagement, and a commitment to long term improvements

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Benefits of scaled Kanban

Let’s look at the benefits that organizations gain when they implement Scaled Kanban within their teams:

  • Increased market competitiveness by rapidly speeding up the time to market 
  • Improved ability to withstand the rapid change in business, competition, or market needs
  • Upgraded quality of communication and interactions within their internal teams and faster workflows
  • Enhanced organizational outcomes that are aligned with individual and team goals

At its core, Kanban helps teams start where they are right now without causing any disruptions in their current workflows or processes.

Scaled Kanban enables teams to personalize and adapt the Kanban methodology to their team’s situation

By focusing on a gradual evolution process (and not a revolution), Scaled Kanban allows teams to simplify complex workflows, improve collaboration, and limit the amount of WIP across all levels of the organization.