Recently my family hosted an open house to celebrate my parent’s 50th anniversary!   In the past when we’ve organized parties it’s been a mad rush right up to when the first guest arrived. All those last minute preparations and running around to get everything in order.  It’s a lot of stress for the whole family!

So when we organized this party we decided to take a slightly different approach. Given both my wife and I use Kanban at work we managed the party preparations using Kanban.  The Kanban board was the fridge in the kitchen, and it had three columns (well actually it had rows given it was too difficult to lay the fridge on it’s side).  The top of the fridge was the backlog, the middle represented items someone was working on, and the freezer door at the bottom was the completed items.  (you can see the fridge early in our work in the picture).  We explained this simple approach to our two sons (18 & 20 years old) and off we all went.

We first populated the fridge Kanban board on Thursday evening.  At first the boys kind of rolled their eyes, but picked up a card out of the backlog. All deliverables were in the backlog regardless of who may have traditionally handled them.  The policies were very simple – WIP limit of 1 for each person, once your task was complete you could pick any item you wanted from the backlog.  No blockers were allowed – if you ran into a problem it had to be dealt with somehow before moving on to the next item.  After a little while the boys were into it, and when they completed a task they quickly returned to the fridge to update the board.  By the time we were done there certainly was no eye rolling.

So what was the result?  For the first time in family history we exceeded expectations and finished early.  No one was stressed, and no one had to raise a voice to get some of the tasks done by teenagers.  New cards were put into the backlog as things were discovered.  We were prepared for a busy saturday finishing our preparations right up to the last minute. Instead at 9am the morning of the party we were all standing there looking at each other wondering what we missed!   We were ready and had several hours left until the party!

It was a great party and we had lots of people coming through.  We even managed to find some people my parents have seen for 50 years!

If you haven’t looked at Kanban – I couldn’t recommend it enough! It can be applied anywhere!  Personal Kanban can be equally as effective.

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