Jim Benson

Jim Benson

My career path has taken me through government agencies, Fortune 10 corporations, and start-ups. Through them all my passion remained consistent – applying new technologies to work groups – in each case asking how they can be leveraged to collaborate and cooperate more effectively. I love ideas, creation, and building opportunities. I love working with teams who are passionate about the future. I love pushing boundaries. I love inclusion. My goal with all technologies is to increase beneficial contact between people and reduce the bureaucratic noise which so often tends to increase costs and destroy creativity.

Personal kanban is an idea that arose from necessity. I began a personal kanban prior to starting Modus Cooperandi, but it didn’t translate as cleanly from the programming and industrial world as I would have liked.  It wasn’t until one day when Corey Ladas and I sat down and really started to talk about the differences between industrial kanban and personal kanban that things really started to gel.

For about a year, Corey and I worked with the personal kanban for Modus. We tweaked it, watched it closely, and discussed what was working and what didn’t work like we expected.

Then in the first half of 2009, I found myself with more commitments than I could process. Multiple companies, projects, and clients were working hard to destroy my personal life. That’s when the differences between personal kanban and industrial kanban began to crystallize. Those differences, coupled with the need to quickly remove a disparate, overwhelming backlog set into effect a series of epiphanies.

These included:

  • Tasks were unruly
  • WIP was harder to manage
  • The only way out is often through (you can’t delegate, procrastinate, or ignore personal work)
  • Personal projects were often short lived, but with definite value streams

The approaches to personal kanban I initially wrote about were all kanban variations I used to get through those frenetic months. While people could hear me screaming from time to time, I burned through an amazing amount of work and – when it was over – I knew exactly what I’d done, how long it took, what held me up and why.

Kanban itself is a time proven process management tool. It is simple to learn the basics and to get started.

After that, the kanban teaches you.

Please join the growing personal kanban community.  See what others are saying about it. Let’s take this meme and run with it.

Retain Jim

I help companies and government agencies of all sizes solve management, innovation and efficiency problems through collaboration.

I am easily reachable at jim@moduscooperandi.com

64 Responses to Jim Benson

  1. Alain says:

    Hi Jim, I just discovered your site and Personal Kanban philosophy; interesting. I’ll try to start applying it.

    Greetings from Brussels

  2. Kim Sharpe says:

    Jim, you gave a great presentation last night at SASQAG. This was the first time I understood Kanban; the goal, process, reexamination, etc. I especially liked the real life experiences in work and other venues. I’m looking forward to adapting Personal Kanban and applying it to home and work.

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  8. Ramesh R says:

    Hi Jim,
    Thanks for the wonderful book. I came to know about your book at one of the Agile2012 conference here in Bangalore, India. I would like to know if you have a low priced edition of your book available in India?


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  10. I have been a GTD fan for years and have been a heavy to-do list doer. I realized that I was sorely missing the visualization part after reading this book this week-end. I actually blogged my first blog ever yesterday with a successful digitization of Personal Kanban using Fences on my desktop. Thanks!

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  35. Hi Jim,

    Just read your article on How to Apply Kanban thinking at work (wired.co.uk). It’s a great piece, with one exception argument where I disagree. You suggest that ” A physical board is better than an online tool.” but infact, online tools have several advantages some of which are mobility, security (i.e. access control), availability (i.e. backups), traceability (who moved what card) and extensive collaboration possiblities over the net. Not to mention that the new UxDs fully manage to give the user same kinaesthetic feedback when they drag a card to the “done” column.

    I see the benefit of a physical board being “always there” as you cannot minimise it; but in similar fashion, you cannot escape an online board because it keeps alerting you of your outstanding cards through emails, mobile notifications, etc.

    That said, I enjoyed every word of the article.

    FULL DISCLOSURE: I work for a FREE online Kanban board tool ToDo.projectplace.com

    • Pablo says:

      Ever thought about correlating Personal Kanban to either Pasonaru Kanban or Personal Sign Board, to word it in only one language.
      All the best,

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  60. Parker Maroney says:

    Love the Personal Kanban and need some help with some tasks/lists, how do you post on the board the following: Weekly Work, school, gym, grocery shopping I want to help Mom etc with out turning them into a task list of some sort. I get my Eagle Scout project is on the board that is easy, but these other tasks are constantly put up and taken down, if I my dad’s says limit my tasks my week is already full from these must do things weekly, what about fun and other stuff just as important.

    Any ideas?


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