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I am using personal and team based Kanban on multiple projects with multiple teams. One of the benefits I was hoping to get from Kanban is seeing "the big picture" - all of the work I have in progress at the same time. However, since I work on multiple "teams", I find this very difficult since the teams need also need to visualize their work in progress as a team also.

For example, the "teams" that I have are (each having their own Kanban board): - My team at my software development day job - My team on my side business - My fiance and I are a team when it comes to home ownership, wedding planning and the like - Then there are all of my own personal projects (self-improvement, fitness, etc)

I am currently using multiple Kanban boards to manage this. However, that makes it very difficult to see the big picture, and I spend too much time flipping between various boards.

What recommendations are there for working with Personal Kanban when participating in many teams? My goal is for me to see the big picture of what I have in progress while each team also sees the big picture of the team's work.

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Too many unlinked boards (or boards with different constituencies) often lead one to overloaded WIP and phantom work (work not on a board).

I would recommend that on your shared boards you keep things at a medium level of granularity. (like the feature level).

On your personal board (of which you should have one), keep track of what your current tasks at the task level - and always manage your personal work with your personal board.

This will better equip you to discuss new work items with your various work groups and ... if you bring your board along ... how you can best interface with them.

There are a lot of ways to answer your question, actually. So please tell me if this doesn't work and we can tailor something to your context.

This is my rather generic answer.

Jim Benson

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This sounds like a great idea, that I'm eager to try out. I am certainly experiencing the symptoms you mentioned - both phantom work and overloaded WIP. I will give this a test run over the next week and report back. – dennislloydjr Jan 12 '14 at 0:24
I've been giving this a try for the past two weeks. So far it has been working out well. There are a few things on the shared boards that are at a pretty low level of granularity that I just bring straight over to my personal board. However, as I transition into this new way of working, I'm trying to scope the items on the shared boards at a higher level of granularity. – dennislloydjr Jan 27 '14 at 13:44

I too have this problem with a lot of different visual boards at work. They are not all Kanban boards, there are also a few VP (visual planning). I have the same challenge as you have on how to keep myself updated enough and getting the "big picture" without getting overwhelmed about the information on the boards.

I have started to focus more on each board, on what the most important piece of information is. It could be a blocker on one board and perhaps a completed task to celebrate on another. So I ask myself what is the most important thing for me to make an action on until the next time I pass this board?

I also ask myself if I can see any possible bottle necks or upcoming problems of some other sort. If nothing pops up then I can put the board aside in my mind as "this project" runs fine.

To sum up, my tip here to get a big picture overview while going through a large number of boards often is focus on a few important questions - "what do I need to make an action on myself" and "what can be problem ahead". Good luck!

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I am not sure if you are using any electronic Kanban product. I am co-founder at Digite/ SwiftKanban - and one of the features of SwiftKanban we have had right from the start I believe addresses this exact problem you have mentioned.

SwiftKanban provides each user with an Inbox view that consolidates all the work (cards) that they are assigned to in a single view. You could try that, if you have not already seen it, using a free 30-day trial of the product at There is also a perpetually free Team Version that you could use depending on your requirements.

Regards, Mahesh Singh

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