Lean/Kanban books

David J. Anderson, “Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business,” David J. Anderson, Blue Hole Press, 2010.  

This book is the definitive first guide to Kanban for IT with a narration of its history via case studies. It includes learning points at the end of each chapter. 

Mike Burrows, “Kanban from the Inside: Understand the Kanban Method, connect to what you already know, introduce it with impact,” Blue Hole Press, 2014

This book has the best of what’s new in the Kanban community meshed with ideas from lean management theory such as values based systems, systems thinking, theory of constraints and an assessment model.

Marcus Hammarberg, Joakim Sundin, “Kanban in Action” Manning Publications, 2014.

This is a solid starter book, written by two software consultants who have plenty of experience with the practical aspects of getting started and learning about transitioning to a Kanban approach. Included at the end are a variety of simulation ‘games’ you can use to teach the concepts.


Jim Benson, “Why Limit WIP, We are Drowning in Work” Modus Cooperandi Press, 2012.  

An informal short guide from a practitioner and strong proponent of limiting the amount of work in progress both in organizations and personally. Jim has also written the book, Personal Kanban, a favorite for those who don’t necessarily want to pursue Kanban at a team level, but could benefit from it at work and at home anyway.

Niklas Modig, Par Ahlstrom, “This is Lean: Resolving the Efficiency Paradox” Rheologica Publishing, 2012. 

This book, written by two Swedes, provides an accessible way understand the difference between a flow based system and a resource efficient system – who is impacted and why. It uses a wonderful fictional case study from the health care system which anyone can relate to.

Jabe Bloom (undated). “Beyond Deadlines,” Vimeo.

This vimeo recording will help you understand why in the creative pursuit of excellent software products, most deadlines do not have to exist.  Given the etymology of the word ‘deadline’, you’ll realize the subliminal negative historical influence.  For anyone thinking about Kanban and delivering software when it is ready, this video gives you the psychological underpinnings for why that might be a really good thing. No worries, there are cases when deadlines are useful.

Christophe Achouiantz, Johan Nordin, “The Kanban Kick-start Field Guide: Create the Capability to Evolve,” Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 un-ported license, March 2013.  

A useful summarizing workbook that will help you get started – distilling from all that you have learned up until this point in an easy to use format. It is not claimed to be the ‘definitive’ how-to. You still have to put your thinking hat on for your own context and situation.

Henrik Kniberg, “Lean from the Trenches: Managing Large-Scale Projects with Kanban,” Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2011

An easy to digest case study from the Swedish public sector gives you a glimpse at the evolution and growth of a large scale project using Kanban as well agile practices and techniques. It’s a short read, with lots to be inspired by and stays away from a one-size-fits-all theoretical vantage point. You’ll be inspired by this one


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