One of the cornerstones of using Kanban for software development is that it emphasizes the quality of the work delivered, rather than purely driving productivity improvement for the sake of delivering more features, faster. The more I use Personal Kanban as an organization and parenting tool, the more I gain clarity of what quality of life really means for me and for our family.
Recent insights into the pitfalls of metrics have made me take a more serious look at my use of Personal Kanban. Especially after reading this blog post on the world-wide self-tracking trend, I started asking myself some very direct questions: How much measuring of your daily activities is too much? When does learning about your own behaviour through data become an unhealthy obsession? I saw in my Kanban experiments the seeds of the kind of science that, unchecked, leads to a man tracking his wife’s contractions with a spreadsheet, rather than sitting by her bedside, holding her hand and thrilling in the primal emotions of becoming a father.
In the human drive to continuously improve ourselves and our lives, there lies a very real danger of reducing the rich tapestry of life to the impersonal objectivity of numbers. Ironically, most people who apply any form of self-analysis are doing so because they want to maximise their lives in some way or another. I know I embraced visual indicators and limiting Work In Progress because I felt overwhelmed by my life and saw in these simple techniques the hope of creating order from chaos.
But reducing chaos does not equate to eliminating variability, flexibility and serendipity from your life.
Some of my most treasured memories are the result of accidental discoveries in second-hand bookshops or unexpectedly running into a good friend on my way to a scheduled appointment. That backlog list of books you plan to read, should never become a gun against your head, forever holding you ransom to the social pressure to read more parenting/serious/leadership books. If an interesting read comes along that piques your interest, by all means expedite it and read it.
For all you know, that is the book that will set you on a new journey to destinations in your life as yet unknown.
*With all due credit to Nissan.