What I learned at the Kanban Leadership Retreat

I arrived in Bali yesterday for the Kanban Leadership Retreat. Check out the welcome we got at dinner:

It’s great to be away from the cold of Melbourne and the resort here is amazing. I love this format for a conference, and over lunch today we are visiting a volcano!

We did our open space planning last night and the topics that were interesting to me included:
- Kanban Failures
- Visualising Decisions (from our own Daniel Ploeg)
- Forecasting and Monte Carlo simulation
- Kanban by stealth: evolving from other methods
- Evolving beyond NPS using Fitness for Purpose scores
- Demo of Russel Healy’s new Obeya software (of GetKanban game fame)
- Latest Risk Management theory in ESP
- Kanban outside IT (from me and Daniel)

I’ll update this blog post with summaries of the sessions I attend... stay tuned.

Kanban failure

I liked the idea that the only real failure is the  inability to evolve or improve.


  • Focus on high utilisation
  • Inability to say no to demand (push)
  • Lack of trust in staff, theory X thinking
  • Fear

Possible causes

  • Management thinking
  • nfluence of education
  • Lack of leadership training
  • Lack of courage


This was a mind bending session on maths and statistics and how they relate to making forecasts. My favourite part was the idea of "Turbulence": the variation of your variation.

This allows you to spot regime changes and tells us when the data set in not suitable (not stable) for making predictions. It also shows ideal places to split the data to account for changes.

I also liked the classification of different lead time distributions using the type of Weibull distribution (k number) with a k less that 1 mapping to long tail, Operations and help desk type environments.