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InfoQ Homepage News David J. Anderson Delivers "State of Kanban-Land" Address at the 2013 Lean Kanban Conference.

David J. Anderson Delivers "State of Kanban-Land" Address at the 2013 Lean Kanban Conference.

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At the Lean Kanban North America conference in Chicago, Kanban pioneer David J. Anderson discussed the “State of Kanban-Land”. InfoQ captured some highlights of his address.

The address began with some statistics:

Last year the Kanbandev Yahoo! group had 2426 members which is up about 20% from last year, and there were 17,000 posts. There are 15 more yahoo groups about Lean or Kanban, but most of the traffic seems to be on the Yahoo Group Kanbandev. There are 64 groups on related to Kanban or Lean. lists 89 groups around the world that discuss Kanban. The Limited WIP Society website lists 40 local groups of Kanban aficianados.

Anderson's classic Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business, which is considered by many to be the Kanban bible, has sold over 30,000 copies across all formats and translations, and in addition sales are rising and higher now than 2 years ago. There are also many new books including an MEAP from Manning "Kanban in Action" and other provocative titles such as "Kanban for Skeptics".

 "Lean Kanban" is a return to the original name (2009) of the conference (known in the last several years as the “Lean Software and Systems Conference”) and the golden triangular logo will brand all of the Lean Kanban conference activities:  

In 2012 global attendance at all Kanban and Lean related conferences was 900, this year that number is expected to reach 1500. The specific conference websites are linked at

These numbers are expected to continue growing, and Anderson asked that people who are interested in creating a Kanban meet-up or conference should reach out to David J. Anderson Associates (or contact InfoQ for more information).

Anderson went on to discuss Lean Kanban University. This is a trade association and standards body for offering Kanban training classes globally.

In order to offer accredited training, trainers must be qualified to a certain standard. Anderson noted that it is not a trivial thing to achieve that recognition.

Lean Kanban University (LKU) has a standard curriculum for Kanban training. If you have a training company and you want your trainees to receive a certificate from LKU using your own training materials, then your trainers must be accredited and the training materials must be consistent with the curriculum and approved against the standard, and your company needs to be a member of LKU. In addition to the regular two-day training class and the "Accredited Kanban Trainer" designation, a “Kanban Coaching Professional” credential was introduced for training certified Kanban coaches.

There are currently 42 individuals who are Accredited Kanban Trainers globally, in addition to the companies that are members, and there are 76 Kanban Coaching Professionals. These are recruiting new membership, and there is more information on the website.

Kanban is seeing significant growth for example in Eastern Europe and South America. But while there's momentum, there isn't a huge amount of Kanban training happening globally.

The number of public classes globally in the past eight months was less than 100. That indicates about 500 additional private classes, which Anderson asserts “is a very small number”. In North America there is a relatively low demand for Kanban training, which he labels “curious”. He says “There are so many companies around the world who have been doing Kanban for five years, you would think that it would have caught on to a much greater degree.”

Anderson pointed out that five years ago Jim Shore, a popular figure in the Agile community, predicted that by today there would be many Kanban installations that will have done it wrong and there would be failures. He says that “what's interesting is that we are not seeing that at all. We are seeing perhaps shallow Kanban implementations, where a few companies are doing Kanban boards and such, but there is so much more to Kanban than that. We see a very rudimentary understanding of risk analysis and risk management, we see very few companies doing operations reviews, and very few implementations where it has scaled across many services in the organization and connected those dots. These are things covered in the LKU standard training.

“There are a number of companies that teach Kanban training for a living. The largest in America is Imaginet. Their management would love hearing from you about what it would take to grow this Kanban training market, and what do you need to see in order to make it possible to buy Kanban training. We would like to understand why there is a lot more training in Europe than there is in North America.”

Anderson said "We now know that Kanban works, there are companies that have been using it successfully for years, it is entirely institutionalized. Where in the past we have seen a history of change initiatives that tend to wear out, and companies drop some new idea and move on to something else, we have institutionalized Kanban adoption and this tells us that companies like it, and it is helping them, and now that is how they do business."

Anderson’s announcement

Anderson went on to note that “Many people know where it has been used outside of software, e.g. Reuters uses it in HR, as do many law firms, architecture firms, and so on. So we feel it is time we moved this out of the tech sector to knowledge workers in general.

With that, I am announcing that next year's conference will be rebranded as the “Modern Management Methods Conference”. Because what we are doing here is not a process, it is a management method. So we are taking this out of the tech sector. The venue will be the Hyatt Regency San Francisco May 4 to 8, 2014."


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Community comments

  • 2014

    by Jim Benson,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    is next year. David spoke about this ... in 2013.

  • Re: 2014

    by Vikram Gupta,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Thanks, corrected!

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