If you are pursuing Agile from a non-IT perspective and looking for a good book to get you going on Kanban for “knowledge work”, then you may be wondering – where do I even begin?
We are excited that you are looking to move yourself into the Agile world. Kanban is near and dear to the heart of many agilists and, arguably, the most underutilized tool in the Agile tool box. When people think of Agile, they generally think of Scrum, but Scrum requires a considerable investment so the business need has to be clear. Kanban, on the other hand, is a lighter weight methodology, has a smaller investment and can be implemented much quicker. So, if person, team, or company that provides support or does non-IT work, then Kanban is a great way to get into Agile with minimal risk. The other great thing about Kanban is that if it proves to be inadequate and the move to Scrum is required, then the transition is fairly easy and with little interruption since the building blocks are already in place. On the flip side of the coin, if Scrum proves to be too heavy, then it can sour the team when it’s most vulnerable and the move to Kanban will just add more strain. Recall the “Spectrum of Process Complexity”, Kanban can fit very well in efforts that fall in the simple to complicated ranges. Non-IT generally falls into these ranges which is why it’s the methodology of choice.
Now, where does one begin with Kanban? Most books written on the subject are written well, but they are all written in the context of an environment, a project, an effort, or a company that the author was a part of. The problem with it is that it’s too specific to their situation and doesn’t show Kanban in broad enough terms that people can relate to and apply, especially in the context of non-IT. To get people started, one of my favorites is “Personal Kanban”. It is Kanban in its simplest form and serves as a great base for scaling in the future if needed. Here are a couple of links to get to the book: https://www.amazon.com/Personal-Kanban-Mapping-Work-Navigating/dp/1453802266/ or http://personalkanban.com/pk/.