The Kanban board is usually at the heart of your teams operations. It offers clarity, order and allows the team to complete tasks without having to stop and check every little detail. It is a handy tool found in many offices today. But what happens when a team wants to use Kanban and the traditional board is just not right for them? They come up with a creative Kanban board.
Instead of sticking to what everyone else is doing, these teams customized their boards to be just what they needed. And the result proves that Kanban has the flexibility to fit a wide variety of practitioners and business fields. There is no rule out there as to what your Kanban board has to look like. Maybe these examples will get you inspired as well.
Rethinking the Space
One of the simplest changes you can make to a Kanban board is rearranging it for your space. If you are using a physical board and have a large team, the sheer amount of space needed to visualize everything can become an issue. Instead of having a board that spans the length of the office, Olivier Lafontan offers a much simpler solution – bending the board to fit the space you have. As long as you create a flow where tasks can move from one step to the next, it does not matter whether they go in a line, a circle or even a wave. It is a simple, yet powerful solution to save space and your conference room walls.
On the other hand if you are working alone, you do not need to use a wall at all. Patty from Nothing Is Out Of Reach has a great idea of turning a planner into a personal creative Kanban board example. She suggests drawing up a few different boards according to the different processes your tasks go through and using sticky notes to track the progress. What a fun way of doing Kanban and keeping the task board next to you at all times.
Rethinking the Form
Kanban has found many applications outside software development where it once began and this in turn created new takes on the task board. This HR web from Jennifer at TranspireLife is a great example of that. In order to weed out candidates for a certain position, she created a board shaped like a spider web. The way it works is all the candidates start on the outer circle and are moved in circle by circle as the hiring process goes on. Only the selected candidate making it to the middle. The beauty of this approach is making it possible to track multiple candidates and positions in one board. A truly creative way of applying Agile and making it work for the process, not the other way around.
A similarly shaped creative Kanban board named the Shooting Target is proposed by Tomas Rybing from Aptilo Networks. Only here it is applied as way of having multiple teams track their progress in one Kanban board. Similarly to the web, the outer circles represent the beginning of the process and tasks are moved in as the teams complete them. Another interesting aspect of this board is being able to calculate team scores. By assigning numbers to each circle (just like in a real shooting target) and multiplying them by the number of tasks in corresponding circles you get a score of each team’s performance. A quick way to evaluate progress and detect performance issues.
Shaping the Board to Limit Tasks – arrow Kanban Board example
If you are looking for a creative Kanban board that guides your team through the process, these two might be just for you.
First up – the arrow by Tomas from TheAgileist. This approach uses the flow of a traditional Kanban board. But instead of only writing the number of tasks that can be added to any column at one time it slims the board down to only fit that number of tasks. Which in turn makes the board look like an arrow – more tasks at the beginning, a long line representing the process steps and again more tasks at the end. A creative way of keeping your team on top of what they need to be doing and at the same time letting the board guide the process. To ensure the quality of completed tasks all the process steps have visible DoDs (Definition of Done).
For those working with multiple teams and wanting the same effect, Tomas offers the Volcano. Shaped like a windmill or a volcano it works in the same way, only with several teams. In this case, all of the teams use the same backlog, divided by products if needed. However, each team has a separate process board to complete the work. This way the most important work gets pushed through, but the quality and quantity of tasks are still greatly controlled.
For those working in design or other fields that yield a lot of back and forth with the customers, traditional Kanban boards are just too linear. However this design board from Daniel Bohn, solves the problem quite elegantly. It divides the process columns into several rounds, which allows the team to go to the clients, collect feedback and perform the same process steps as many times as needed. While tracking all of it one creative Kanban board. This simple, yet very important change, allows to see the design process and effectively track progress that wouldn’t be visible without the specification of separate rounds.
Design is just one of the fields that can benefit from secondary workflows on the creative Kanban board. Thus, when developing Teamhood we felt it was very important to create a Kanban board that can reflect complex data structures while keeping the simplicity of Kanban. This is how we came up with an Advanced Kanban board.
With the advanced board, you can map your process not only with columns and rows also known as Kanban swimlanes, but also with secondary workflows that are available for every column. Meaning, if you have a process step that requires a feedback loop or that is more difficult than other steps, you can track subtasks through a separate workflow. Making it easier to understand the progress even on the smallest level. Interested?
The One You Can Build With Toys – LEGO Kanban Board example
Lastly, sometimes you just need something simple and engaging for your team. And in this case, the Lego Kanban board from Drew might be the winner. Based on the 3 basic Kanban columns – To Do, Doing and Done, it uses Lego blocks and paper cards to monitor the task flow. Each team member gets to pick their own figurine and depending on their availability, a certain amount of Lego blocks are placed next to it. If there are no more blocks next to a certain team member, no more tasks can be assigned to them. A great way of controlling the process, yet making it fun for your teammates.
It is easy to build and customize a creative Kanban board to your specific needs on paper, wall, or whiteboard. Empty surfaces are ideally flexible and do not limit creativity . However physical surfaces usually are limited in two important factors – space and access to all team members. What if You have 50 team members in 20 countries and 200 tasks in one project? The answer is digital board. But digital boards lose on flexibility and easiness to use. This is the challenge Teamhood has taken – to balance flexibility and easy of use, with power of data and analytics.
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2019 - Present Co-founder and CEO @ Teamhood.
2015-2019 Head of software engineering department at Danske Bank.
2017-2018 Partner Associate Professor at Vilnius University. Lecturer of Software Architecture course
2011 - 2015 Managed numerous smaller IT teams at Prewise.
Co-founder of RaveIT, Eylean, No Brakes Games
Certified Agile product owner and practitioner. Managed large scale enterprise projects as well as launch of small startup products.
MSc of Software Engineering at Vilnius University.
Hobbies: Racing, MTB cycling, Windsurfing