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Making Work Visible: Exposing Time Theft to Optimize Work & flow

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  635 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Kindle Edition, 241 pages
Published November 14th 2017 by IT Revolution Press
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Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you like "The Phoenix Project", you must read this - and if you didn't read it, you should read it anyway.

This book should be considered a standard reference for practical Kanban and how to manage work.
It is split in to three parts:

* Part one explains the five thieves of time
* Part two shows how to use Kanban to hunt down these thieves
* Part three is about creating Metrics and getting Feedback

The content is from practitioners for practitioners which makes this book one of the most valuable
Steven Murawski
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Critical Reading for Anyone Who Does Work

I started this book with a decent understanding of Kanban techniques and expected a similar recap of those ideas, maybe with a focus on IT Ops. What I got was so much more!

While this may seem evident from the title - "Making Work Visible", there is so much more uncovered in this book than just getting your tasks in columns on a whiteboard.

I've spent most of my IT career focused on automation of tasks. One of the first challenges we face when starting any
Michael Stafford
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent handbook and review of Lean and kanban practices I'm already using at work, describes several things we can be doing better, and considering the traction this book has at work right now, I bet we'll be making process changes soon.

Engaging read, easy to understand, attractive layout and graphics. Could have used an editor (cost reasons I bet) as I saw a good many typos, plus the use of both acceptable spellings of queueing / queuing.
Chase Adams
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I discovered Making Work Visible when I needed it most and was most ready for it. It is a canonical book for anyone who wants to be effective at getting the right things done in the right amount of time.

Why It Mattered To Me

I was two months into my journey as a manager for a small technical team whose primary responsibility was to manage an overwhelmingly active queue of support requests.

I was struggling with two major tensions:

1. "How do I know the work we're doing is the right work for the
Ahmad Alhour
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Making Work Visible is the best book on Lean-Kanban that I have read to date and I have read quite a bit. This book stands out from the other books on Kanban, Lean and Agile processes books in a unique way by clustering the core problems that Kanban was originally designed to solve via Visualization.

There are mainly five categories of problems which are presented as Time thieves in the book, namely:
1 - Thief Too Much WIP
2 - Thief Conflicting Priorities
3 - Thief Unplanned Work
4 - Thief Neglected
Marcus Hammarberg
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
read most of this book in one big gulp - I simply could not stop myself.
My immediate feeling after reading it is that my head is spinning with things I need to try.

The content is super actionable, clear and beautifully presented. Also, everything is well grounded in practice & theory - the author oozed experience through the stories.
On top of that there's nice splash of fun to keep me reading.

I recommend this book to anyone doing Kanban, Lean, Agile or Scrum
This is a concise introduction to Kanban, focusing on the idea that your teams and colleagues need a way to see (with their eyes . . .) work so that it can be planned, discussed, and remove surprises from the organization. I would say that if you're a new practitioner of some kind of agile methodology (Scrum, Kanban, whatever) and want to tune up your work boards, this book could help quite a bit. It is not doctrinaire, and provides a lot of different patterns; no specific software package is ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Useful and practical book for implementing kanban methodology, with most experience drawn from applying it across Operations teams. Editorial process could’ve been more diligent.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
My boss’s boss gave this to me to read and I actually found it extremely helpful. I got thrust into a Kanban process with no education and this lays it out simply and with lots of context. I felt like there were practical applications to the advice that I could implement which generally does not happen from a management book.
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book describes the common items which end up being where a lot of our productive time ends up going ("the thieves"), and outlines several strategies (with many great examples) of how to make the thieves visible using Kanban boards. If you're having trouble doing Kanban, this is a good book for showing several different approaches you can try.
Bjoern Rochel
Sep 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, eng-mgmt
I like the presentation and style of the book. Might be a good choice for the first Kanban book. Not so long ago though I read "Product Development Flow" and "Kanban from the inside" which go far beyond the content here. In case you've read those or dived deeper into Kanban before, I doubt that this book brings anything new to the table.
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Simply the best book I read in a long time. It shows how time thieves steal all your time and how you can act to minimize their effect. In my opinion one of the best books about Kanban and how making your work transparent is the first step to work more efficient. Definitively a must read for everyone who works in projects.
Vlad Ardelean
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: ex-prio, biz-tech
Some good ideas, nothing special

Fortunately the book is short.

Tell you what I won't do: get a physical board and stick postit notes on it. That's what she's proposing. I'm sorry, but I won't do that. It's very easy for these consultants, while on their workshops, to get out big whiteboards and stick postit notes on them.
Vert romantic, but wrong. I'm working with JIRA at work, and am limited by it. I won't change from JIRA to postits, because JIRA has a lot of benefits, mostly regarding
Jeanne Boyarsky
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: technology
“Making Work Visible” is awesome! The book is divided into three parts.

The first introduces the five thieves: too much WIP, unknown dependencies, unplanned work, conflicting priorities and neglected work. The author personifies the thieves nicely and talks about them like they are alive. I liked the “it was the cloud provider that did it in the data center with the candlestick.” I don't know about you, but these five thieves have been busy on most projects that I've worked on!

Part two is the
Tõnu Vahtra
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was a bit afraid that when you have already read several books on Lean and Kanban then the added value from one more book might be marginal. On high level this was the case but there were still several interesting thoughts in the book. It's a mix of different books ("This is LEAN", "Personal KANBAN", many quotes from Goldratt (THE GOAL) and another reminder to finally complete "Drive" from Daniel Pink. Authordidn't say it directly but there were several subliminal references to Phoenix Project ...more
Bob Wallner
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In 2015, Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry's book Personal Kanban changed the way I did work, so when I saw that Tonianne did the Foreward for Making Work Visible, I took notice.

I judge a book on how quickly it makes me take action. I put some of the principles from this book into effect on the same day as reading them. I have been using personal kanban since 2015, but the way Ms. Degrandis described how she uses kanban made me rethink how I was doing it. I made some simple changes to my
Dusty Juhl
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
"It's ridiculously hard to manage invisible work."

This sentence essentially sums up the purpose of this book--making work visible in order to better manage it. The book lays out five major causes for work not getting done, presented as "time thieves". Any good book on Lean / Kanban likely presents many of the same causes, such as Too Much WIP, Unknown Dependencies, Unplanned Work, Conflicting Priorities, and Neglected Work.

This book provided a great combination of good descriptions of each time
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: paper, reviewed, didactic
This book was exactly what I needed, when I needed it. DeGrandis takes the complexities of kanban-flavored agile and boils them down into actionable steps by talking about how you can solve specific problem (or Time Theives) by making your work more visible to stakeholders and yourself.

I think it's probably going to be more valuable if you have a basic understanding of kanban and limited work in progress, but she does cover it. This is more like a book for the second six months of your kanban
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: professional
A well written book about the value and mechanics of using kanban on work projects, especially software projects.

The paperback is also very well published, with attractive illustrations by the author. In a book about making things visible, the pictures are certainly important.

Some of the key takeaways for me:
- Good explanation of using kanban and pull to manage work. This is good for projects and also for non-project work.
- Work-In-Progress (WIP) is not "effecient multitasking". It makes LESS
Christopher Litsinger
This book struck me as mostly a love-letter to kanban. It had practical advice for how to put it into practice, but I found it short of ideas on how to make it _better_ within my operating environment.
For a bit Degrandis started talking about probabilistic prediction, and I got excited about that, but she never suggested a useful formula for calculating it.
Probably the most thought-provoking bit for me in this book was the application of Little's Law to a kanban board. I happen to think a lot
Ryan Frantz
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Degrandis does a great job defining and putting a face on a set of "time thieves" that prevent us from getting work done. The central theme is visibility. The more we make visible, the better we can understand what is stealing our time and make adjustments. Further, we can effectively communicate within and without our teams about the things that impact our work. This leads to setting better expectations and greater satisfaction, overall. And while the book recommends a Kanban approach to ...more
Núria Aloy
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, kindle, lean
This book does a great job at explaining why visualization is key to improving workflow systems. The distinction of the main blockers to flow (or time thieves) into 5 different types, helps a lot in understanding what their impact is and how to minimize it. Although it is heavily focused on IT work (operations in particular), lean and kanban principles are explained in a way that doesn't make it difficult to transpose to other domains. Clear visuals support these explanations.

Some parts of the
Justin Aquino
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: studies
Simple enough that it’s Actionable.
You may buy a ton of Books about AGILE, Devops, Lean, TPS, etc. and thats good you’ll still need that. You may read the GOAL, and all Novels of Eli Goldratt (and the Phoenix Project) to frame all that knowledge in a Narrative and weave your own story of how your conditions are and what are the actions and challenges you will encounter.
But you will need a Book - simple enough to share and digest how you are going to implement all of this.
You cannot be
Mario Sailer
Feb 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Just another book about Kanban.

If someone does not know anything about Kanban this is a good book for an introduction. But if you are already familiar with Kanban and you know Little's Law, there is not much value in reading this book beside maybe getting reminded about the Kanban mechanisms.
Besides creating some awareness for the so called "Time Thief's", it is very simplistic, not digging much into the theory behind these "Time Thif's" and not giving very much advice how to tackle them (once
Angela Case
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book for a novice or intermediate need

I have a small six team department of 16 people with hundreds of projects in the backlog and 1000+ tickets in the Service Desk. I bought this book 2 weeks ago while on vacation and started implementing its suggestions 2 days ago. Productivity and enthusiasm has already improved. Buy it, read it, determine a simple implementation strategy, and execute on it. Just do it and see what happens, but defend your decision. Then keep making more small
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: december, 2018
MAKING WORK VISIBLE is likely too complicated for someone brand new to Kanban -- and far too general for someone familiar to the practice. With its heavy focus on applications in a tech environment, readers in other disciplines may be challenged to see practical items to implement, particularly since the author offers no suggestions for software or technological resources, even as it encourages time tracking and reporting. Certainly worth a quick read or skim for anyone looking to be more ...more
May 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
The book is just OK. Maybe because we tried to practice kanban/lean in our team, or maybe because I didn't get the amount of detail I'd expect. The book felt like "here're some tools and few instructions, figure the rest on the way, but look for these other things". Aka it doesn't give a complete solution, and then breaks it down on why it's a good solution and how one can build their own solution, it's more like a collection of thoughts and some practices that worked in the past for the author. ...more
Mike Gunderloy
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Subtitled "Exposing Time Theft to Optimize Work & Flow," this is the handbook of kanban practice that you didn't know you needed. Degrandis does a great job of showing why kanban is a practical technique, not just a different set of ceremonies, by motivating it around the need to find (and eliminate) the things that waste time at work. It goes through a lot of different ways to tweak a kanban process for specific purposes, and it's likely that any struggling team will find some immediate ...more
Feb 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was about personal productivity, but was disappointed on that end. It’s almost entirely about working within a team and with other teams in a large organization. As a self employed freelancer, that was obviously unhelpful.

I think the title/subtitle/sales pitch on the book all failed to make the interpersonal focus more clear.

I gave it three stars because I think it’s probably a good book for the right audience, but my rating for how useful it was to me personally is much
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting topic but repetitive

I really liked the topic and its implication to individuals and teams. Loved the done and done done idea to consider completion and acceptance during planning and execution. However, the narration was tedious due to excessive repetition. I think the same message could have been delivered in half the amount of space. Overall a good book for folks interested in time/project management/planning.
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“There is a reason our schools and offices are plastered with whiteboards. We acquire more information through vision than through all the other senses combined.1 Of the 100 billion neurons in our brains, approximately 20% are devoted to analyzing visual information.2 The visual-spatial learner thinks primarily in images. A study done by psychologist and founder of the Institute for the Study of Advanced Development, Linda Kreger Silverman, suggests that two-thirds of the population have a visual-spatial preference.3 The left hemisphere is sequential, analytical, and time-oriented. The right hemisphere perceives the whole, synthesizes, and apprehends movement in space. For visual-spatial learners, if the right hemisphere is not activated and engaged, then attention will be low and learning will be poor.” 0 likes
“Making work visible is one of the most fundamental things we can do to improve our work because the human brain is designed to find meaningful patterns and structures in what is perceived through vision. Thus, it makes sense that when we can’t see our work, we have a hard time managing it.” 0 likes
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