The classic, simplest Kanban board has three columns:

  • To do
  • In progress
  • Done

This is fine to get started, particularly when the board doesn’t have many items on it.

However, keeping the pure 3 column layout can mean you have many tasks sitting in the “In progress” column, and it’ll be harder to find out why.

Splitting “In progress” into more columns can help to understand where things are. Columns that fill up with tasks will be clear to see, and can be focused on to get things moving again.

How to deal with blockers

Now and again you’ll get a task that is “blocked”. The person assigned to the task should raise it with the team if they need help to get it unblocked.

But when marking a task as blocked, don’t put it in a Blocked column.

By doing this, you’ll lose where the task was on the board. Worse, your Blocked column is often at the left or right side of the board, and easy to ignore.

How to mark a task as blocked varies depending on your tool, but don’t take it out of the process by shunting it off somewhere else. Add a flag – change the colour of the card – or use a custom field to make it show up clearly.

That way, it’s going to be seen by the team every time they look at the board, which will remind them to remove the blocker as quickly as possible.

By making sure you split up your In progress column, you’ll be able to see where blockers are occurring, and deal with them accordingly.

Photo by Brie Odom-Mabey on Unsplash