Getting Started with Visual Management: Mapping Your Workflow

The hardest part of getting started with visual management can be figuring out your workflow process. If you’ve never tried visual management before, terms like “value stream” and “mapping your workflow” can sound quite intimidating.

So let’s rewind and go over the basics. Visual management is based on the principles of Kanban. Step one for getting started with Kanban is to visualize your work, which in layman’s terms means figuring out the steps required to move a piece of work from the initial idea to when you get it completed.

A simple way to get started is to use a “to do, doing and done” approach that enables you to get your work on a board quickly and easily. From there you can break the process down into sub-steps, revising it incrementally until it reflects your reality as closely as possible.

Jim Benson, co-author of Personal Kanban, explains the essentials of how to do this in the two blog posts below:

Building Your First Personal Kanban

Personal Kanban board example

A simple process for personal Kanban can be backlog, doing and done.

Start visualizing your work with a To Do, Doing and Done approach. Jim walks you through the basics of Kanban including how to establish your value stream, backlog and WIP limit and then start pulling work. Read this blog.

How To: Mapping Your Value Stream


Ready to map your value stream in more detail? Jim explains how to fill in the blanks between start and finish. He reminds us NOT to strive for perfection – it’s just your ‘best educated guess as to how your work is actually occurring.’ Read this blog.

The key take-away is to keep it simple. Ultimately, the only thing that really matters is that your workflow reflects as closely as possible your team’s understanding of how your work should be done. Don’t expect to get it 100% right in the beginning – just get it ‘good enough’ to start with. From there you’ll have plenty of opportunity to revise and improve it as needed.

Once you’ve mapped your process, visualizing it on a LeanKit board will be a breeze. Whether you start with the default To Do, Doing and Done board, use a pre-built template or design your own board from scratch, you can easily customize it to ensure that it really does match your reality.

For more guidance on how to map your workflow in LeanKit, watch this video.

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