Up until this point, you’ve read a lot about the instruments that help a Kanban team visualize and control its workflow and shorten its lead times. Now, of course, you’re probably asking how the team coordinates with its members and others. How does work reach the team in a Kanban system? Who decides which work items land in the input queue? Who decides what goes into the next release? And how?

Kanban is pure communication. We visualize the work and pull work across a board—even this itself is a type of communication. But even if, or indeed because, we make lots of things visible, this approach fundamentally obliges us to do one thing only: talk to each other. Anywhere people identify blockers, bottlenecks, or other problems using the visualization, they begin to discuss things and look for solutions together. Kanban is thus sustained to a very large extent by communication between team members. Admittedly, we’re usually only focusing on one section of the entire value chain, but every Kanban team should be perfectly clear about the fact that Kanban is not a tool for self-gain; rather, it is the entire organization that should profit from Kanban. Together with the conversations that are anyway generated within the team, this functions above all through communication with the up- and downstream stages at the boundaries of the team’s section of the value chain. The institutionalized form of communication for the operation and coordination of ...

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