Personal Kanban

Presented By:

Jim Benson

Session Abstract:

Lean for Knowledge Work Using Personal Kanban

Whether we’re in business, government, or health care, we try to optimize our processes, but no team can be optimized while the individual team members remain in a state of chaos. Unclear direction, overwork, lack of collaboration, and process fatigue can weigh down individuals and teams, causing sluggish performance, increased defects, and low morale.

This class will introduce Lean principles and tools to better manage personal and project work to circumvent chaos, communication breakdowns, and low morale. Creator of Personal Kanban Jim Benson author for of the Shingo Award-winning book Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life, will introduce this Lean tool to understand, plan, and act on the options available to us, our teams, and our organizations.

The breakout session will provide a quick overview of:

  • The System of Profound Knowledge
    • An introduction to systems thinking, variation, and psychology as they apply to knowledge work.
  • Personal Kanban as a Personal Framework
    • We introduce Personal Kanban as a framework for understanding value stream maps, work-in-process limits, and cognitive theories such as single- and double-loop learning.
  •  Visualizing Work
    • An introduction to the benefits of using a visual system for work completion, quality, reporting, collaboration, and peace of mind. We cover value stream mapping and the identification of work item types resulting in the creation of each attendees own Personal Kanban.
  • Limiting Work-in-Process
    • We discuss how to visualize the impacts of overwork, multitasking, context switching, and repetitive tasks. We discuss the Lean concept of flow, valuing completion with quality over simply starting tasks.
  • The Psychology of Work
    • We discuss the impacts of overwork, multitasking, context switching, and repetition on knowledge workers, as well as cognitive biases that impact effectiveness and planning.

Learning Objectives:

In this workshop you will learn:

  • Everything from the Personal Kanban breakout session PLUS
  • How to collaborate effectively
  • How to communicate work upstream, downstream, and to other areas of your company
  • How to accurately estimate (forecast) knowledge work projects
  • How to spot and mitigate common social and psychological patterns that derail projects


Presenter Bio:

A pioneer in applying Lean and Kanban to knowledge work, and an internationally recognized speaker and author, Jim Benson is CEO of the collaborative management consultancy Modus Cooperandi and founding partner of Modus Institute.

He is a fellow in the Lean Systems Society and recipient of the Brickell Key Award for Excellence in Lean Thinking.

Jim is the creator of Personal Kanban and co-author of Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life, winner of the Shingo Research and Publication Award. His other books include Why Plans Fail, Why Limit WIP, and Beyond Agile.