Kanban started in manufacturing as a way to flow the parts on Kanban cards to assemble a product. More recently Kanban is being used to visualize any process by creating Kanban cards to represent a work item that flows on a Kanban board that represents an overall process. What if Kanban could be used for love?
After creating many variations of Kanban boards to help clients improve the efficiency of their team and processes, it became time to also create boards for less business oriented work…This movement is called Personal Kanban and I decided to create and use a Kanban board with the love of my life. And yes, we are still in love, but just like any change in life it wasn’t without its challenges!
Building a sweet backlog
As a couple we form a team of two, with individual and common goals. As a loving team, we need to communicate effectively what we desire to accomplish together and that requires clearly defined goals that we can explain to each other and agree to pursue (or not). Like everything that is important in life, you must write it down, which makes “it” real, so we started writing our goals on cards. This first step is critical because it forces us to think and clearly state what we truly want or need.
Once a few cards started taking shape on a table, we then proceeded to organize the cards into categories like vacations, projects, date night ideas, events, etc…These became our card types, or classes of service in the serious world of Kanban. The next step was to prioritize the cards, so that we could reach agreement on which card was the most important for us to accomplish first. This prioritization exercise had to take in consideration reasons like a date tied to an event, a monetary consideration, or simply what made us the most happy.
Now that our goals were clear and in the order we wished to realize them, we simply needed a way to track and collaborate on making these goals a reality.
The “Couples in Love” board
We started with a simple Kanban board with the typical columns of To Do, In Progress, Done, but because we wanted to focus on creating a fun and loving way to accomplish these goals, we evolved our board to the version shown below.
The column names became “Planning” instead of “To Do”, “Enjoying” instead of “In Progress” and “Remembering” instead of “Done”. We also added a column at the end to track the goals that we would consider doing again or not. To respect the core properties in Kanban, we also captured explicit agreements under the name of each column name, to ensure that we had clarity on the ideal way to flow the cards from one column to the next.
The colors on the cards represent the type of goals… Green for vacation, red for very special romantic date nights, blue for more serious projects and orange for events. These colored labels help with visualizing the goals at a glance and making sure that all the cards are not only about vacations, because these take longer to prepare and cost much more than just going to a movie.
Another important concept in Kanban is to set Work In Progress (WIP) limits. As you can see on the board image above, some columns have a maximum number of cards. For example, we usually enjoy one goal at time, but sometimes two goals can happen during the same time… On a weekend we could enjoy both a romantic getaway and an item from the “honey do” list like fixing that squeaky door.
Can Kanban improve your love life?
I believe that Kanban can improve anything you can map on a Kanban board. There are many Personal Kanban stories about using a Kanban board to manage the family chores and helping children focus and celebrate their success. I believe in living a life by design and being clear about what makes you happy. So my answer is Yes! Kanban can improve your love life because visualizing goals and creating a simple way to be honest about getting these goals done is important.
Does planning a date night on a Kanban board take away all the spontaneity and fun from just doing something in the spur of the moment? How about this for consideration… not planning date night in general will guarantee less to no date nights and weeks or months will go by before you realize that there is something missing that used to make you happy. Also, there is nothing preventing you from still doing something that’s not planned on the board. We love just coming up with something to do right now, and although it would be best for measuring the flow on the board to add these spontaneous cards, this is where I have learned to draw the line. This Kanban board does not need to be perfect, it just needs to help us think about great goals that will now happen because the intent is clear and loving.
This Kanban journey has taken me to work with amazing people to create Kanban Zone and this “Couples in Love” is a real board template that anyone can use immediately.
Are you ready to focus on what makes your loving relationship special? Write down a few cards, flow them on a visual Kanban board and see for yourself what happens…