Working Left to Right

By | August 26, 2014

In western societies we read from left to right. We are conditioned to look to the top left first. During a recent stand up, a team member pointed out that our kanban board asks us to do almost the opposite.

Our work is pulled from left to right. Those work items that are closest to being live are naturally further to the right, and given those are the most important work items, that appears counter intuitive if we naturally focus on the opposite side of the board first. We decided to run an experiment.

We hypothesised, that if we reversed the order of the columns on our board, putting the ‘Celebrate’ column on the left and the ‘Ready’ column for new work items on the right, that we would naturally focus on the work that was closest to production deployment. The changes were made, and we agreed to review them in our next retrospective.

The results were unanimous. Every team member is of the opinion that the board is now much more intuitive, and that by reversing the order of the columns there is a natural focus on the work that is closest to live. We still have a pull system in operation, only now the work flows in the opposite direction.


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