July 14, 2010 at 2:01 pm 1 comment

Just a thought experiment: What do you get when reversing Kanban? Obviously the name of reversed Kanban would be Nabnak – at least it has a fancy name.

Kanban has two key properties:

  1. Limit work in progress to an upper limit with a preference for lower limits.
  2. Pull from upstream processes.

Therefore in Nabnak you would

  1. Ensure that work in progress never falls below a bottom limit with a preference for higher limits.
  2. Push work to downstream processes.

OK, that sounds completely ridiculous. But when would you possibly do such a thing. Perhaps when two conditions hold true:

  1. Developers are so expensive that a high utilization outperforms all other metrics.
  2. At the same time developers are too dumb to pull work. Somebody has to push the work to them.

These two conditions seem mutually exclusive. Therefore Nabnak is in fact complete nonesense. But guess what: I am not the inventor of Nabnak – I just gave it a fancy new name. Nabnak was formerly known as waterfall.

You may not like Kanban but it is not a new name for waterfall. If there is a new name for waterfall it is reversed Kanban: Nabnak.

P.S.: In fact there may be useful applications of a minimum work in progress limit for certain columns of a Kanban board. I may blog about that in another article.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Michael Hönnig  |  July 18, 2010 at 7:04 am

    Interesting comparison. But no. 1 for Nabnak should read:

    Make sure taking all user stories in progress before even finishing any, maximizing work in progress.

    (This of course only if “work in progress” refers to product features, which though would be agile thinking. But waterfallists are thinking in pieces of work, which made analysis/design/implementation/documentation/test of a single feature five distinct pieces of work and they claim analysis to be done when they start with design.)

    Anyway, even follwing process models like V-Modell (not even considering XT) does not neccessarily imply waterfall. Almost nobody is using a real waterfall model anymore. Still, your comparision shows: there is another side to it, and it is sensible.

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