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

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,172 ratings  ·  142 reviews
Kindle Edition, 241 pages
Published November 14th 2017 by IT Revolution Press
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  1,172 ratings  ·  142 reviews

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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 I'
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
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
Emre Sevinç
If this is the first time you're hearing about Kanban style of working, you can consider this book almost a 4-star: it is very readable, with a lot of anecdotes from the author's professional challenges, and conveys the most fundamental concepts and terms in a colorful, easy-to-digest manner by using many examples. In other words, if you're just curious, this is not a bad starting point at all.

On the other hand, if you're a professional with even one or two years of experience in organizations a
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.
Jun 23, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is mostly applicable in the author's context of working which is IT DevOps. ...more
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
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
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 ab
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
William Anderson
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really just excellent. This is a fantastic guide to kanban board design, but goes so much further providing numerous tools to visualizing WIP and helping identify and clear bottle necks. If you are intersted in visualizing tasks, dependencies, interuptions, work, and value then read this.
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 di ...more
Roland Curit
I started this book in late 2020 and despite its short length, 200 pages with lots of pictures, I struggled to reach the finish line. 5 pages here, 10 there. I had difficulty remaining focused on topic. A year ago, I had read “The Phoenix Project” by Gene Kim. It was twice as long and covered the same topics but in story book fashion. That worked for me. I still rave about that book today. I bought “Making Work Visible” to gain insight into why my 2020 seemed overly work heavy despite not spendi ...more
Wilson Gov
Insightful little book

We all know that we are constantly being interrupted during working hours, seems we can't ever finish anything meaningful, but why? This book explains in a nice way the time thieves, makes a case for flow metrics.
As I read the chapter for flow metrics I measured all the flow time and cycle time, calculated the distribution of my team velocity and was able to prove few things that I knew were true but couldn't actually convince nobody. Just for that I think this book deserve
Andy Parkes
Jul 16, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021-reading
I have mixed feelings on this one.

The short description of this is that it's a high level overview of Kanban.

If you're already aware of what that is though a whole bunch of this book will mostly be familiar to you.
So while this is a really well put together book I didn't come away from it bristling with new ideas. That would be different if the concept had been new to me though

Miguel Silva
Aug 23, 2021 rated it liked it
Interesting but I was expecting more, maybe because I already know the topic and I’m working on improving Work Visibility and efficiency for a while now I didn’t found new information on the topic. If this is a new topic I recommend the book, if you are someone that already works on this field you will only validate your knowledge :)
Roman Kolodiy
Sep 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: management-21
Must-read for anyone who use Kanban.
Author highlights importance of measuring progress as key and true indicator of team performance, as it could uncover those nasty reasons why many projects got delayed all of the time.

In the first chapters we can familiarise ourself with well-known “Thefts” that prevent from getting work done, in the second chapter we are introduced to tools and processes that help to deal with “Thefts”. In the third chapter we discover useful metrics that could help improve
Niklas Heer
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership
I like this book it focused me to see the time thieves and help me to make them more visible, but if you already read „The Phoenix Project“ or „The Unicorn Project“ you won’t find revolutionary ideas in it.
I can recommend this book to everyone who wants to see more clearly were your efforts go.
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. ...more
Vlad Ardelean
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: biz-tech, ex-prio
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 communic
Sebastian Gebski
How to describe this book? Kanban in the most simple words possible (w/o trespassing the border of not respecting reader's intelligence ;>).
Who I'd recommend this book to? All the people who think that "Kanban" is just a layout of issues in JIRA (yes, there are more of them one could expect ...).
Is it a good book? Decent enough - it's still better to read Anderson's original book, BUT I'm aware that many people won't. So in such case, MWV is still a good choice - sensible starter for building up
Bjoern Rochel
Sep 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: eng-mgmt, 2018
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. ...more
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.
Gaelan D'costa
This book is amazing.

I don't think anything in it is revolutionary in content, but what it is is a succinct and plain-spoken gathering of a starting set of understanding and things you can do to start developing a handle on an IT team that feels itself to be drowning in work and/or fighting a losing battle against expectations of productivity.

The central thesis of this book is that if you do not have a way of quickly visualizing a team (or, at a high level, an organization's) work you will allow
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 me
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 per
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
An exceptional argument for why so many workplaces are full of so many overworked, busy people, yet everything seems to take forever to get done. In short, there’s too much WIP (work in progress) and not enough idle time or slack capacity.

Great, jargon will help us? Let me explain how these go together.

Most of us think we need to be doing something productive 100% of the time at work, right? So if we find ourselves with some spare time, we start up something new. We add more work into the syste
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
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