The Joy and Pain of Limiting Work in Process

Chris Hefley | 10:00 – 11:15


Agile teams the world over are discovering the power of Kanban to improve flow, shorten delivery times, improve quality, and drive continuous improvement. And the power of Kanban can be summed up as “Visualize Work” and “Limit Work-In-Process (WIP)”. Visualizing work is easy. But limiting WIP is not.  Neural pathways forged in our hunter-gatherer past make the very idea of limiting WIP seem unnatural. But in our complex, collaborative, modern workplace, added effort often doesn’t lead directly to added value.  In this talk, we’ll examine what makes limiting WIP hard, how to overcome the barriers, and the benefits you’ll see from enforcing WIP limits. We’ll look at the benefits and barriers from the perspective of an individual, a team, and an entire company, and see examples of how one company transformed itself by limiting WIP at every level, from the CEO on down.


Chris Hefley is a founding fellow of the Lean Systems Society, a Lean-Kanban University certified Kanban Coaching Professional, a Brickell Key Award nominee, and the CEO of LeanKit, the leader in Kanban software.