For several years now we’ve been talking about agility at Leysin American School. There is just something so compelling about managing your work, either alone or with a team, in an easy, visible way. A simple Kanban board (or scrum board) is a great place to start.

The simplest version has columns for tasks you want to do, tasks you are working on, and tasks that are completed. You can think of this as a “To Do” list with some easily added features. 

First, “Doing” is not found on a simple list, which is usually a column of items that are not crossed off (To Do) or crossed off (Done). The Doing column matters because it helps you focus. In general, you pull only one task from the To Do column into Doing at a time. It helps you avoid trying to work on many tasks at once. Pick one and focus.

Second, a To Do list with one item per sticky note allows you to prioritize what task is next, and next after that, and so on. When you create your To Do list, you take your best guess at what is going to be a logical order to complete tasks. Then when you have space in your Doing column, you pull the next logical task over. Of course, you may change your mind about the logical order of tasks. No problem – just reorder the sticky notes. In this manner you’ll find that you always have a plan as well as an easy way to update the plan. 

Third, you don’t lose the satisfaction of crossing off completed items. You move them over to Done as a record of work accomplished. Unlike a simple checklist of tasks, some items in your Done column might be tasks you need to do again in the future. The sticky is ready … just move it back into the To Do column.

The Kanban board shown here was made by my daughter, Emma. She chose to include three different categories: school work, extended essay and CAS, and other. These three categories, represented in lanes on the board, are important to her because they help separate classes from other school work, and everything related with school from her personal life.

She made the board with tape and sticky notes, next to her desk. 

Kanban has only six basic rules. Emma is demonstrating the first three of them here. I’ll go into those three – and how this simple process addresses them, in the next blog.

Emma Magnuson is a junior at Leysin American School. She began using Kanban in eighth grade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *