Boundaries of Kanban in Sales and Marketing


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@markusandrezak. is my guest next week on the Business901 podcast. Markus Andrezak is speaking at the upcoming Lean Kanban Central Europe Conference (It is Hamburg, Germany, Nov 4-5, 2013) about Boundaries of Kanban – Disruptive Innovation. An overview of Markus’s talk sums up our conversation in the podcast quite well.

Lean Kanban Central Europe Conference: Kanban is fantastic in the support the flow of product development and self improvement of teams in that area. However, at each time the process defined through Kanban poses an impediment to work in the creative field. While Kanban may very well fit to work in the domains of product maintenance and iterative, feature by feature innovation, it does not support evolutionary or disruptive innovation. These types of innovation dip slightly or even more into chaos and are completely non linear processes which simply do not fit the Kanban board and process. The talk will show how to protect innovation from delivery and how to create the necessary level of communication between these areas w/o creating silos.

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe: I’ve struggled when I’ve applied Kanban to sales and marketing because it is similar thinking, it is very non-linear. The way I view it is that it’s not this linear progression as much as it’s an iterative circle within a certain column. That group could be always there until they come out of the loop somewhere. They could either go backwards or forward. Is that similar type thinking to what you have done or do you have a better way?

Markus: I think it’s very interesting what you said because I had this discussion last week with the great guys of TLC Lab in New York, Jabe and Simon Marcus. They came up with the similar idea because they tried to use Kanban in the way that you described it.Lean Kanban

What I said to them is that you can put that work on the Kanban board and put a container around it and just ignore that it’s on the Kanban board. What will still happen is that people will look at the container that’s protecting this design work from the production constraints so to speak and somehow feel like it has been a stranger on the board. Now you could have a very great company culture and everybody will tolerate that stuff on the Kanban board. On the other hand, if it’s on the Kanban board the Kanban system should be helpful of this work otherwise you would not put it on the Kanban board.

Again, this process is completely non-linear and going on and on as you say, my question would be of what help word Kanban be for the designers and I think of no help. If you look at what’s going on in the gaming industry, how they’re coming up with new ideas for the games is in very small prototyping teams which are not working in any method. Maybe Design Thinking or maybe Design Studios, but they’re not working on any development-like or production-like methodologies. Rather what they do is something which Toyota might call set base design, so highly parallel work in very small teams to come up with lots of new ideas for a similar problem. I think this is good but you can’t organize it on a Kanban, at least not that it would help so you could do Kanban but I think it would be of no help for anybody.

About Markus: Markus Andrezak has been active in different contexts as Product and Development Manager for high traffic and high revenue web sites. During the last years his main focus has been transitions towards Lean and Kanban product management and development practices across his portfolio. With Arne Roock, he also co-authored ‘Replenishment’, a free eBook on Kanban. His Blog: Portagile and Twitter: @markusandrezak. You can find more information at his company website:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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