Free Kanban Video Training: Setting WIP Limits

Today’s post introduces the second installment in the free video training series: Kanban Crash Course brought to you by Brendan Wovchko from HUGE IO. You can watch all released videos when you sign up to the free Kanban Crash Course.

One of the benefits of Kanban is that it provides evolutionary change over transformative change. I’ve written before that if you’re introducing Scrum, you have to be upfront that things are going to change straight away.

I understand the appeal towards Kanban because you start from where you are, and you don’t have to suddenly make a lot of drastic changes to the way you’re working day today.

I really enjoyed how Brendan explained in video one that this is a great way to overcome resistance to using Kanban.

Evolutionary Change Doesn’t Mean NO Change

If you want to get different results, something has to change. Failing to understand this is a common reason trying a new agile framework, well, … fails.

Many times I’ve heard someone say: “We tried X. It didn’t work.”

But on closer inspection the reality is they tried something new, didn’t quite like the rules, and so decided to change them. In effect bending the framework to fit what they were already doing.

The result? The approach to work didn’t change. So the results didn’t change.

And most people know the famous saying:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

So What’s the Hardest Change to Make to Succeed with Kanban?

Brendan told me that many people are reluctant to set or stick to a Work in Progress Limit (WIP limit).

I can understand why. It seems counterintuitive to increase throughput by doing less. Even if you agree that, yes, focusing on one thing at a time makes sense, how does this work in the real world?

When stakeholders are putting pressure on you to produce, or there’s a last-minute request for a quick but urgent feature, can it really be that detrimental to add a little extra work?

Watch Video 2 in the Kanban Crash Course to learn more

If you want a better understanding of WIP limits (and how to convince others of their value), the next video in Brendan Wovchko’s Kanban Crash Course is perfect for you.

(As with video one, this training is absolutely free but only available until Wednesday 16th October)

This short, ten-minute tutorial from Brendan explains:

  • Why WIP limits add speed (and how to break the myth of multitasking)
  • Understanding what they are so you can introduce the concept to your team
  • The risks of not getting WIP limits right
  • Why most teams struggle with WIP limits
  • Three BIG (but often overlooked) areas where WIP limits save time
  • And most importantly - how to set them… in a real-world setting so they work for your team.

We’ve had a lot of great responses from Brendan’s first video and I’m excited to offer this free training series to Mountain Goat Software readers.

If you’re already registered for the free course, you don’t need to sign up again, just click the button below to watch. Watch video two here.

Watch Video Two Here

WIP Limit Woes? Let Me Know Below

I’d love to hear from you if you've experienced problems with WIP limits. Let me know in the comments below.

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Mike Cohn

About the Author

Mike Cohn specializes in helping companies adopt and improve their use of agile processes and techniques to build extremely high-performance teams. He is the author of User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development, Agile Estimating and Planning, and Succeeding with Agile as well as the Better User Stories video course. Mike is a founding member of the Agile Alliance and Scrum Alliance and can be reached at If you want to succeed with agile, you can also have Mike email you a short tip each week.