2 Approaches to Introduce WIP-Limits

In his book about Kanben David J. Anderson mentioned 2 approaches how to handle WIP-Limits when installing a Kanban System.Book Cover: "Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business" by David J. Anderson

Adding Buffers or Queues

Approach #1 – Self-Revelation

Two variants are possible here:

  1. Don´t add buffers, instead let the bottleneck reveal itself. Only when you identified it add buffers to protect it.
  2. Set WIP-Limits loosely first so that variablitiy, waste and bottlenecks don´t impact the pull system

Approach #2 – Buffers everywhere

Buffer every stage and set tight WIP-Limits for every activity. Bottlenecks will then reveal themselves, too. Then adjust by reducing buffers as needed, or removing them at all where they are not needed.

Agreeing on WIP-Limits

Choosing WIP-Limits is one of the most important decisions when introducing Kanban

Recommendation by the author: WIP-Limits should be agreed with up- and down-stream stakeholders and with senior management. Later, when the team is put under stress a collaborative agreement will make negotiations about workload and replenishment easier.


This blog is a digital memory for me. I store nuggets of information, ideas and resources on these pages so that I can access and share them easily at any time, from everywhere. I always felt a strong passion for continuous improvement and that is why I am now super happy to be a professional Scrum Master. Scrum, Kanban, Agile Project Management, Coaching, Learning and Self Management are my passions and that is also what my blog is about ...

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