Entrepreneurs Coffee: Personal Kanban and Lean Startup Methodology

I attended Entrepreneurs Coffee this morning, see a lot of familiar faces and a few new ones. The speaker was Jim Benson, the author of the newly released book "Personal Kanban" as one of the founders of the Seattle's Lean Coffee.

Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life

A few interesting notes that I took are:

  • Jim and his partner(in DC) or clients will by on Skype 100% of the working day, not having a conversation – rather just hearing each other clicking away. When an issue arose, there is no need to make a telephone call or start a Skype conversation… he just speaks up!  Elegant approach. Sharing a virtual skype cubicle.
  • Economy of scale does not work for Knowledge Workers – the more of them that you get involved, the lower the return per employee. I have seen this often and have been known to say “Don’t give me two developers to help me meet the deadline unless you really want to miss the deadline!”. Solo-coding (for me) often results in the highest output. Passing information and making sure it is understood is more time consuming than doing it. On the flip side, if the code is to be maintained, then getting someone else up to speed is essential. The key item is that it is a false assumption that tossing more bodies at a problem in a crisis is what you should do.
  • SCRUM has evolved, originally it was intended to increase communications and break tasks into smaller easier to manage pieces. What has happened is that the process has become formalized. Think of it this way, “there is the spirit of SCRUM and the letter of SCRUM”. SCRUM has become more and more bureaucratic and formal. I saw this 8 years ago at Microsoft where the SCRUM Certified person focused solely on getting the paper-work of SCRUM done (covering you’re a**) and killed communications and team ethos.
    • SCRUM is good conceptually – BEWARE of born-again bureaucrats who are SCRUM-Certified!
  • A book called Visual Meetings was recommended by the U of WW person attending. He made the key points:
    • 90% of typical people are VISUAL LEARNERS
    • 95% of academics are word orientated (likely applies to a lot of software developers and technical writers) too
    • For my other blog, I will likely shift more and more to visual learning styles.
  • Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes and Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity

Those are the main highlights. Join the Entrepreneurs Coffee Meetup group to get notified of the next one!


  1. Do post back regarding the book and how it changes your work/communication style.


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