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Editorial Reviews

From the Author

Personal Kanban is all about understanding and effectiveness. People are so busy they can't see past their daily to-dos. They let options slide by while working on tasks of little value. At any given time, we want to know what we are doing, be able to communicate that to others, and see what our true options are. Other personal and team management systems are top-heavy, requiring significant work to update and maintain. Personal Kanban runs in the background, always providing you with information and not adding additional work or pain.

From the Inside Flap

  • Carmen Medina: Director of Intelligence (Retired) Central Intelligence Agency: Personal Kanban is a must read for knowledge workers and their leaders who recognize that old productivity models don't apply to knowledge work and seek a more realistic and centered approach. The ideas are deceptively simple but in that simplicity is their strength. As soon as I finished reading it, I started drawing out the landscape of my projects and felt much the better for it.
  • Ross Mayfield: CEO of SocialText: Personal productivity systems usually fail in practice because of complexity and they don't reflect the collaborative nature of real work. Personal Kanban provides the simplest structure that could possibly work and lets you achieve a state of flow.
  • Jerry Michalski: guide, Relationship Economy eXpedition: Trying to get more effective? Why use Rube Goldberg systems of tabulated notebooks and special-purpose inserts? Instead, consider a system that flows like a stream and focuses your attention, both on the task at hand and on making your process more effective. That's what Personal Kanban is, and it may just fit your thinking and doing style.  

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1453802266
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453802267
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My career path has taken me through government agencies, Fortune 10 corporations, and start-ups. Through them all my passion remained consistent - applying new technologies to work groups - in each case asking how they can be leveraged to collaborate and cooperate more effectively. I love ideas, creation, and building opportunities. I love working with teams who are passionate about the future. I love pushing boundaries. I love inclusion. My goal with all technologies is to increase beneficial contact between people and reduce the bureaucratic noise which so often tends to increase costs and destroy creativity.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

181 of 190 people found the following review helpful By Dan Leone on April 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have seen it all. From the primitive todo to the philistine Covey to digital GTD to the nothing-there ZTD, I am confident saying that there is nothing I have wasted more of my time on than studying how not to waste more of my time. I have active accounts with AppoloHQ, Nirvana, Producteev, HiTask, RTM, TeamLab, PlanBox and a gazillion other task management websites. I approach each of these methodologies and implementations with a cynical eye. I do not inherently trust any "system" and quickly pshaw them right out of the box. But I hang on. I hang on to the hope that as my brain begins to drop more information than it picks up, I will eventually find something that will work.

The prerequisites are simple:

1. No part of this process should take more than 10 minutes to implement
2. It needs to be visual
3. It needs to be visible!
4. I should never be in a position where I say "If only I had an internet connection" or "If only I had my laptop" or "If only my Circa Rhodia pad come unlined."
5. At the "end of the day," I need to be able to report on and measure my performance. We are all accountable for what we produce. My goals are directly tied to what I can accomplish.
6. It's got to FEEL good. Metrics aside, if it is ugly, cumbersome or "kludgy," it will never be a tool for me. I seek beauty through simplicity.
7. It can't be binary. Use it or not, there has to be room for a transition.
8. It should not be mutually exclusive to any other system. If I want to implement Next Actions or Covey's big rocks/little rocks, or a universal capture tool (ie Evernote), then nothing should stop me from doing that.

Perhaps those prerequisites were not so simple after all as it seems that no one was able to meet those criteria.
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76 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book in a nutshell: create a backlog of your work, add a kanban board (columns: "backlog", "ready", "in progress", "done"), limit your work in progress to a number you determine by trial and error and retrospect periodically to understand what factors influence you to be effective/ineffective for a certain type of task. Adapt.

I think the process suggested (previously defined by David Anderson in his Kanban book; previously developed by Toyota for manufacturing) is valuable, and has made me give up my to-do lists. On the other hand, I don't think you need a whole book to explain it, a simple (if longer) blog post would be sufficient.

The idea I found most valuable was to strive for effectiveness rather than productivity. That is: try to get things done instead of trying to keep yourself busy.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By joe bradley on August 25, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I should point out that this is a review of the book, NOT about the ideas contained herein. Lest you think this is unfair, there are
other books that touch on kanban that do it in a handful of paragraphs rather than hundreds of pages. I have no idea how many pages this book has - I gave up after the first hundred.

Unfortunately, you could derive the same benefit by glancing through summaries people have written about the ideas contained in the book.

Now you may say: "But you could say that about any personal productivity book!" Yes, you could, but you would derive more benefit reading some books. I read Steven Covey's "7 Habits" book (or whatever it was called) and I got a lot out of it even after hear someone else describe the points to me. And I read "Getting Things Done" after reading blog posts about them. And both cases, reading the entire book was very enlightening, as they described in great detail the problems that arise when you try to apply method in real life - things that knock you off track, things you can do to get started, very specific guidance for common cases, etc.

This book doesn't do that. It spends it's entire time SELLING the method. A point is made early in the chapter, and then the guy spends the entire time talking about how %#%@% great it is, and how some buddy of his used it to make his life better, etc. It's as if you bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner, and instead of it coming with the 1-sheet illustration showing how to do it, it instead came with instructions embedded in piecemeal inside a 30 minute infomercial selling you on the !%@% vaccuum cleaner you just %&$#&%$# bought!!! Feh.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By roman400 on November 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have to say first that my expectations of this book were quite high. Given the information on authors' site ( and a lot of good reviews here at Amazon, one would expect to get a book full of practical examples with a lot of advice how to practice Personal Kanban (PK). Nope, this book is a missed opportunity. Sad but true.

As the other one-star reviews already stated, you get all you need (PK basics) in the first few chapters. There were some useful examples, but all the book chapters are much, really much too wordy. As the book progressed, I used to highlight less and less ideas in this book.

In Chapter 1 "The basics of PK" you will get all the necessary information to start with PK. Two basic rules are introduced: "Visualize your work" and "Limit your WIP". Short description of why PK is personal and what is the "value stream" (flow of work through PK) follows.

In chapter 2 "Building your first PK" you will get a short info about what you need (whiteboard, pens, stickies), next the basic value stream READY-DOING-DONE and backlog are introduced, then are described reasons to limit your WIP and the importance of reflection (retrospective). Finally, some PK boosters are introduced: PEN and TODAY columns. This is the last really useful chapter of this book (yes, it is really only chapter TWO!).

Chapter 3 titled "My time management is in league with the freeway" elaborates a little bit on WIP limits, and clarity is introduced (what you really want to achieve, preferably using PK). Next, a bucket of dirt is splashed on the "good-old" TO-DO lists. This was the point, when the book started to become really boring and effectively almost useless.
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