Reviewed: July 2015
With a title that echoes Ken Schwaber’s Agile Project Management with Scrum – also from the same publisher – you might expect this to be an authoritative guide to Kanban. Rather than a thorough analysis of theory and practice, however, instead what you get is a lightweight introduction to the topic which is focused on the practical application of Kanban as an approach to managing development teams.
Once I got over my expectation for a rather more in-depth treatment of the subject, perhaps leading with some coverage of reasons why you would want to apply Kanban, the book did make a little more sense with its launch straight into how to get the approach up and running. Indeed, this sleeves-rolled-up approach starts right from the first chapter, devoted to getting management consent. I was unconvinced by the open letter to your manager included not only in this chapter, but also as a downloadable file on the book’s website, which seemed rather contrived. It provides a superficial overview of problems that Kanban can solve, plus risks and mitigations to be considered, and is clearly far too trite to be effective in the real world.
This shallow approach continues in the following chapters, which cover a 5 step quick-start guide, guidance for adapting from waterfall or evolving from Scrum, and coverage of upstream and downstream processes. Much of the advice given is sound but lacking in depth, and there is no feel for Kanban as an evolutionary change method.
The book is pitched as ‘Kanban in a box’: read the quick-start guide and you’re up and running fast. It will help you get started, but I doubt how far along your journey it will take you. For further support, the pointers provided in the final chapter (which finally has a section on why Kanban works) will be of more use in the long term.