The Limited WIP Society announced today that it was changing its name -- and focus -- to The Board on the Wall Society. "It just seemed like where the market was going," said Janice Linden-Reed, administrator of the online community for fans of Lean pull systems such as Kanban.
Given the long history of proven benefits of limiting WIP (work in progress) to encourage flow and manage work, why change the name of the Limited WIP Society? "Limiting WIP seemed too hard for people to grasp," said Jim Benson. "They kept doing more and more and more things. So we decided to focus more on the wall itself -- preferably a big wall, big enough to hold thousands of sticky notes."
As many people around the world have chosen to proudly post their work as sticky notes on a wall, few have embraced the concept of limiting work in progress to encourage flow. Flow is a key component in improved lead time and predictability. "Limiting WIP? It's something about constraints. It is just way too complicated for someone as busy as I am," stated a knowledge worker who asked to remain anonymous. He added, "We like the stickies on the wall."
When it was pointed out that sticky notes on a wall without WIP limits are little more than a posted task list, the gathered workers seemed to glaze over and shuffle away. One was later seen to be sleeping under his desk.
The early practitioners of Kanban for knowledge work believed in setting limits on workflow and work items. In this way, workers focused on only the most important work and on finishing work to deliver value to customers. The benefits were believed to be faster completion, higher quality, and happier workers. This apparently religious belief (previously claimed to have been validated in queuing theory research) has largely been abandoned in recent times.
"Limit WIP", which had been the second Core Practice of the Kanban Method after "Visualize", will now be replaced with "Drink Coffee". "Manage Flow" will be removed as "Flow" is no longer a recognized concept.