⭑⭑⭑ (3/5 see book reviews)

This book makes two key points:

  1. Visualize your work
  2. Limit your work-in-progress (WIP)

And that’s pretty much it. A quesiton I kept coming back to in my reading is — do online kanban systems (trello, asana, todoist, etc.) miss the point of kanban?

The authors emphasize the kinesthetic aspects of using sticky notes and a white board:

When we’re able to represent each of our tasks on individual sticky notes our workload assumes a physical shape. It becomes tangible.

– Personal Kanban, Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry (Pg 22)


Each time we move a sticky note, we receive kinesthetic feedback: the tactile action is both a data point and a reward

– Personal Kanban, Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry (Pg 23)

But when you move a task in trello: do you get the same cheap dopamine? Is a trello board an information radiator? Does it provide the same kind of value as a physical kanban board in a shared space? If you only see how work flows through a system when you open a webpage (which may not be that often) do you get the full value of the original agile system?

Anyway, I drilled a 3’×5’ plastic panel to my wall and bought an industrial-sized box of post-its and sharpies—I’ll report back later!

The other key point—limit your WIP—didn’t get much attention. The authors recommend setting an arbitrary limit of three tasks in your DOING column, and crank that number up and down as it makes sense. Makes sense, I guess.

This is a short book that could have been shorter. I gleaned some value here, but it wasn’t earth shattering. If you’ve used kanban professionally previously (i.e., you’re a software person) you probably know most of what this book is about to tell you.

  • Title: Personal Kanban
  • Author: Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry
  • Pages: 216
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • ISBN: 1453802266
  • Genre: Writing