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Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life (English Edition) eBook Kindle
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Unlike traditional high-controlled and rigid management processes. It promotes a lean approach that is based on visualizing your work first and then act on it.
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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.
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.
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.
Both are techniques that were created for product development teams and were a response to process heavy up-front planning known as 'waterfall development'. Without having some context of working on a product development team actually implementing Agile processes, I think a lot of readers might not get as much out of the book.
The basic process of kanban is to post 'stickies' to a board in a 'Ready', 'Doing', 'Done' column.
There are 2 rules:
1) Limit the Work in Progress (ideally no more than 3 things at a time)
2) Visualize the work
Concepts like the backlog may get lost on some people, as well as references to Taichi Ohno unless you work in the world of product development.
Nonetheless the book is pretty good. In particular, I like how it emphasized the concept of flowing work, and reducing cycle time on tasks, instead of trying to do a lot of things at once. I know I'm guilty of procrastinating on items and thinking to myself that I can get a lot done by attacking multiple things at once.
Also, the book is right to point out that humans are not like a 'glass of water' that contain work. We are more like a 'machine' that processes work. So Throughput and FLOW are more important concepts than capacity. Having breaks between work is necessary because otherwise the work jams up and throughput slows down (think traffic jam on a highway - it's caused by too many cars on the road, and not enough space between the cars).
I'd give this book 5 stars, but I feel the author needs to take a step back in certain places and explain fundamental concepts more clearly. That and there is a bit (though not too much) fluff in the book. For example, unless you have something new to say on Maslow's hierarchy of human needs, it's best not mentioned in a productivity book - the pyramid is vastly overused and taken out of context - which may have been the case here.
My other mixed criticism, is that the appendix is the only place where the author really shows a few case studies of the Kanban boards in action. This is one of the most useful parts of the books, and the idea of providing a dedicated 'swim lane' or means of visualizing work on a particular project is great. The way the board juxtaposes this against the higher level every day stuff is very instructive and useful, I wish there was more of these case studies throughout the book.
Overall a good book.
I would supplement with the following:
Getting Things Done
Pomodoro Technique Illustrated
It's a lot of reading but well worth it in my opinion if you really want to develop an actionable system that manages workflow.