Limiting WIP (work in progress) is another of those wonderfully simple Agile principles that many of us still struggle to implement and possibly understand the significance.
It’s fundamental to Lean/Kanban, and yet explaining it through Little’s Law is dull and abstract.. so here is my attempt to make it engaging and shareable.
It's clearly something we should be trying to reduce.
So…. what is the best way to reduce lead time (cycle time)?
This maths is robust and applies across all kinds of systems, from the queue at your coffee shop to the progress of a feature through your team.
It’s easier to visualise this as
If you want to half the lead time
– you only have two options
– and one is much quicker and cheaper than the other
This is probably our default response and it does work. However, it will take a lot of time and cost.
This is much quicker and cheaper to implement.
It is also the reason why Kanban obsesses about it - if you are not reducing your WIP to the optimum level, then you're not doing Kanban
..but the quickest, cheapest way to intervene at a system level and improve customer perceptions, responsiveness and innovation - is to reduce WIP
Email Bazil Arden
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