Kanban Cadences

Wojciech Walczak
January 5, 2024

Seven meetings form the set of cadences in the Kanban Method, and each of them is regularly reoccurring to provide consistent feedback processing opportunities. Please note that any of these cadences may mean the meeting or the time between consecutive meetings of the same type. Below is an overview of the seven Kanban cadences. The total set of cadences is divided into two subsets: Service Delivery Set and Improvement Set:

Service Delivery Set 

Service Delivery Set – contains the cadences that help with the day-to-day coordination of a single service delivery. These cadences often have the word “meeting” in their name.

Replenishment Meeting 

Where the work is selected out of available options and commitment for the delivery of the selected items is made. Often, the work items that are not yet ready to be selected are inspected to ensure their timely readiness for future Replenishment Meetings. In other words, the Replenishment Meeting concentrates on the Discovery (or Upstream) Kanban and results with decisions to pull selected work items into the Delivery (or Downstream) Kanban. The Replenishment Meetings play an important role in ensuring that the right work is being done, i.e., it allows maximisation of the outcomes out of the delivery work. It is worth mentioning that the Replenishment Meeting doesn’t always have to be a regular meeting – depending on the policy, the replenishment might be made on demand as soon as spare capacity emerges in the Kanban system.

Kanban Meeting 

A short meeting, often daily, to manage the work in progress and the flow of it. The duration is typically around 15 minutes, in which the delivery teams coordinate and plan their work. To emphasise the need to complete the already started work, but also for pragmatic reasons in working with WIP-limits set per column, typically, the Kanban Meeting involves “walking the board”, which stands for reviewing the work items on the Kanban board column by column, starting from the right side (the column the closest to the delivery point) and gradually moving to the left. The delivery teams may decide on the spot as they recognise which work items require attention. Whilst it is not a bad practice to update on the status of all of the work items in progress, more mature teams inspect during the Kanban Meeting only those items that require special attention, e.g. those which are blocked or delayed (at risk of not meeting the agreed SLA or ageing disproportionally more than other work items on the board).

Delivery Planning Meeting 

Since the commitment made during the Replenishment Meeting typically does not involve a commitment to a schedule, an additional planning meeting is required to coordinate the deliveries to the customers. During this meeting, information on the level of readiness for delivery is monitored for all work-in-progress work items and risks are considered. There are concrete decisions made during his cadence, such as commitment to the delivery dates of specific work items, selecting the work items for the next release, or changes to the assigned class of service for the work-in-progress items.

Improvement Set 

It contains the cadences that aim to improve the Kanban system. These cadences often contain the word “review” in their name. 

Service Delivery Review 

In this retrospective-like meeting for a single Kanban system, we are inspecting whether we are delivering the service according to the expectations. Often, the Service Delivery Review is done twice a month. Appropriate decisions are made to drive improvement in customer service. Any decisions are grounded in the evidence, which is reviewed during this cadence, especially the various measures (see article Kanban Measures article for more information). Adaptations to the Kanban system design are likely to be introduced during this cadence.

Operations Review 

This cadence looks at a set or network of interconnected Kanban systems to investigate any issues with dependencies between them or other issues causing an imbalance between demand and capabilities of individual Kanban systems that are affecting the entire network's performance. The Operations Review is typically conducted once a month.

Risk Review 

Risks that may affect the delivery capabilities are managed through this cadence. Appropriate responses to the risks are made for known risks. The list of risks to consider in this meeting is often acquired through clustering of blockers from the Kanban systems, i.e. through studying the reasons for blockers occurring in the Kanban systems. The Risk Review, similar to the Operations Review, is done for a network of services rather than an individual Kanban system, and the frequency of the Risk Review tends to be the same as for the Operations Review.

Strategy Review 

Usually happens once a quarter and allows us to take a large step back to reflect whether we are providing the right service to the customers. Possibly, we have drifted into working on items that are moving us away from the service we want to provide. Or the external environment has changed, and our service is no longer fit for purpose. Or maybe we want to expand our services to new markets or sectors? During the Strategic Review, we are making the needed adjustments to our service portfolio.

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