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10 Kanban Books to Turn Your World Upside Down

  • Methodologies

My journey with Kanban started in 2013, and since then, I have read several books on this matter. I will list ten books that I believe are necessary for anyone in the Kanban world or wanting to get into it in this post.

I divided this post into three sections: Fundamentals, Practicing and Kanban, and beyond. The books, in each area, represent the way I learned, my thoughts, and observations about the method over the years.

Kanban Fundamentals Books

This list is about the books that I consider necessary to understand the Kanban method and its roots.

Capa de quatro Livros sobre Kanban

1) Kanban – Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business – David J. Anderson

The first book couldn’t be any other than this one. Better known as “The Blue Book,” everything you need to know about the Kanban Method is here.

Required reading for anyone who wants to understand what Kanban is. The book describes all the principles and practices, along with case studies that help you know what David and his team did in their early Kanban implementations.

2) Lessons in Agile Management: On the road to Kanban – David J. Anderson

The first book details the Kanban Method; this one tells the reader how David built it. This Kanban book is a compilation of posts from his old blog, with some more recent observations.

It’s the history of Kanban written in pen and paper. This book contains the concepts, principles, theories, people, situations, and experiences that inspired David to create the Kanban Method.

So, if your interest is to know where the method originated from, this is the book for you.

3) The Goal – Eliyahu M. Goldratt

This book changed my life. The author brilliantly shows the protagonist’s journey to learn a new way to manage his factory to save it from impending bankruptcy.

The protagonist is guided by a mentor who progressively helps him on his journey. If you want to understand the Theory of Constraints and how to use it, this is the book for you.

4) The Principles of Product Development Flow – Donald G. Reinertsen

The Flow Bible. Everything you need to know about Lean product development is in this book.

Concepts like the cost of delay, WSJF, queuing theory, flow variability, batch size, and an economic framework that helps you make informed decisions go hand in hand with the Kanban method.

The book is structured into chapters and principles that make navigating the content quick and fluid.

The following list contains books on Kanban that helped me introduce and put it into practice.

Books for Kanban Practices

The following list contains books on Kanban that helped me introduce and put it into practice. 

imagem dividida entre três capas de livros sobre Kanban

5) Kanban in Action – Joakim Sunden & Marcus Hammarberg

The first practical Kanban book I read. It offers quick, easy-to-read, and helpful tips that you can get started on Monday.

The authors tell stories of experiences they’ve had introducing Kanban and the results they’ve had. It’s an excellent book to start with.

6) Kanban from the inside – Mike Burrows

This book made me look at the Kanban Method from a different angle. Mike introduced the values ​​of Kanban in this book in a way not presented before in any literature.

The most exciting section of the book is the last one, on STATIK. When the book was released, there was not much content on the topic. It teaches how to run a STATIK workshop on a service, but powerful insights can come from this reading.

7) Practical Kanban – Klaus Leopold

Klaus Leopold has compiled several Kanban concepts and principles in his book to give the reader a foundation, but the hidden gem of his book is at the end.

His proposal for continuous improvement in the organization using Flight Levels is brilliant, as is the practice of Block Clustering and his partnership with Daniel Vacanti on predictability. 

Kanban books beyond the basics

The following list comprises books on Kanban that I feel take it to new heights. Here we will talk about things that transcend method.

Imagem dividida em três capas de livros sobre Kanban que abordam o Kanban Maturity Model

8) Kanban Maturity Model – Theodora Bozheva & David J. Anderson

Kanban or KMM maturity model is relatively new. It was released this year, but its roots go back to the early years of Kanban.

All its content is purely based on experiences and cases seen by Kanban coaches and trainers in the real world.

It is a handy tool for Kanban coaches and provides practical actions such as: introducing new concepts and trimming the rough edges of existing ones.

9) Great Boss Dead Boss – Ray Immelman

Over the years, I can say that few books have made me change the way I see the world. That was one of them. Ray’s work on tribalism and how it affects our community lives is brilliant.

The book uses the Socratic method and “Goldratt’s Goal.” The protagonist has a mentor who introduces him to a new way of dealing with the factory’s internal conflicts to save it from closing. 

10) AntiFragile – Nicholas Nassim Taleb

Antifragile is one of the books in the Uncertain series, along with Black Swan, Bed of Procrustes, and Fooled by Randomness. Antifragility is the point where we win by stressors and events that cause damage to our environment.

According to the book, we should aim for more than just being resilient or robust. Asymmetries, concavity, and convexity are fascinating concepts detailed in the book.

We have reached the end of the Kanban book list. If you, the reader, pick up a book from this list to read, I feel that my goal has been accomplished!

Do you have any other Kanban book suggestions to share? Leave your comment below.

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