Kanban Maturity Model: A Comprehensive Guide

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Aug 07, 2023

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In the realm of process improvement and organizational development, the Kanban Maturity Model (KMM) stands as a beacon of transformation and growth. Beyond the conventional perception of Kanban as a mere board with coloured tickets, the Kanban Method offers a profound approach to managing processes throughout an entire organization. The Kanban Maturity Model serves as a roadmap for businesses aspiring to achieve superior agility, delight customers, and secure long-term survival by consistently meeting or exceeding customer expectations. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the Kanban Maturity Model, its history, benefits, and the levels it defines to unlock organizational excellence.

History of the Kanban Maturity Model

The Kanban Maturity Model was first introduced in the 1st edition of the book "Kanban Maturity Model: Evolving Fit-For-Purpose Organizations" in 2018. This initial version, based on the authors' professional experience, offered a minimal viable product to the market. Authors David J. Anderson and Teodora Bozheva spent the next four years refining, developing, and testing the model based on real-world scenarios. The model evolved through the beta program and valuable feedback from the market, leading to the release of the 2nd edition in 2020. The new edition maps over 150 specific practices across seven levels of organizational maturity, providing a clear roadmap for consultants, coaches, and enterprise managers aiming to transform and enhance their businesses using the Kanban Method.

Understanding the Power of the Kanban Maturity Model

The Kanban Maturity Model offers a comprehensive approach to developing various organizational capabilities, leading to enhanced efficiency and resilience. It addresses critical aspects such as relief from overburdening, meeting customer expectations, workforce cohesion, and organizational agility. Moreover, the KMM guides organizations in achieving predictable and sustainable economic performance, identifying and managing their purpose, and fostering a culture of meaningful, institutionalized change that endures over time. By adopting the Kanban Maturity Model, businesses can create fit-for-purpose products and services, foster customer delight, and secure their long-term survival.

The Seven Levels of Maturity

The Kanban Maturity Model defines seven levels of organizational maturity, each representing a significant stage of improvement and growth. Let's explore each level in detail:

Level 0 - Obvious:

At this stage, the organization lacks awareness of the need for structured work processes. Work visualization might exist on a personal level, but applying Kanban at a team level remains challenging. The focus is on individual achievements, and trust within the organization is low. To advance beyond this level, organizations must recognize the value of structured processes and embrace the Kanban Methodology.

Level 1 - Teams-focused:

Team members start to embrace Kanban as a tool for improvement. They create team boards and migrate their work from individual boards. Per-person swim lanes are introduced to visualize individual tasks, promoting collaboration, transparency, and teamwork. At this stage, the organization begins to appreciate the significance of teamwork and collective effort in achieving organizational goals.

Level 2 - Customer-driven:

As the organization progresses to Level 2, teams understand that Kanban improves collaboration and transparency. The need for a defined work process and service recognition emerges. Although there is consistency in process, policies, and decision frameworks, the desired outcome might still lack uniformity. The focus shifts to the product and service aspects, ensuring that customer needs are met effectively.

Level 3 - Fit-For-Purpose:

At Level 3, the organization's process evolves from being customer-driven to fit-for-purpose. The organization better meets customer expectations, balances upstream and downstream flow, and focuses on resilience. Metrics become actionable, and lead time shortens, enhancing the organization's overall performance. At this stage, the organization understands the significance of continuously improving to stay relevant and competitive.

Level 4 - Risk-Hedged:

The organization reaches Level 4 when it adopts a model-driven management approach, anticipating risks and predicting outcomes. Risk-hedging practices, data-driven decision-making, and predictive models become essential tools to improve business economics and robustness. At this stage, the organization becomes more proactive and adaptable to market changes.

Level 5 - Market Leader:

Level 5 signifies that the organization has become "fit-for-purpose" from all stakeholder and end-user perspectives. The focus now is on optimizing workflow, financial benefits, and quality while minimizing costs. The organization showcases its agility, flexibility, and perfectionism. As a market leader, the organization sets the standard for others to follow.

Level 6 - Built for Survival:

At Level 6, the organization is "built to last." It continuously assesses its approach, keeping abreast of changes in technology and customer needs. The focus is on long-term survival, making strategic decisions that align with the broader company strategy. Such organizations are forward-thinking and prioritize adaptability and innovation to remain resilient in the face of uncertainty.

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Who Benefits from the Kanban Maturity Model?

The Kanban Maturity Model offers valuable insights to various stakeholders within an organization:

Coaches: Coaches can leverage the KMM to understand the organization's current state, define the desired future state, and create a roadmap for improvement using the Kanban Method. It helps coaches to guide organizations toward their goals effectively. By understanding the unique needs and challenges of the organization, coaches can tailor the implementation of Kanban for optimal results.

Kanban Practitioners: For practitioners, the KMM serves as a comprehensive catalogue and reference to the key aspects, practices, and principles of the Kanban Method. It provides actionable insights on implementing the method effectively. Practitioners can use the model to assess their current practices, identify areas for improvement, and take informed steps to advance to higher maturity levels.

Middle-Level Managers and Project Managers: Managers can find practices to introduce service orientation and business agility within their organizations, promoting efficient workflow and better customer satisfaction. The KMM equips managers with the tools to foster collaboration, optimize processes, and drive results that align with the organization's strategic objectives.

Application and Real-world Success Stories

The Kanban Maturity Model is a powerful tool for implementing the Kanban Method at a large scale with confidence in successful outcomes. It can be implemented more effectively with practical-based kanban training. 

Real-world case studies demonstrate the model's effectiveness. For example, BBVA's Finance area experienced a 28% reduction in management overhead through a two-year KMM implementation guided by Teodora Bozheva. The successful implementation of KMM allowed BBVA to streamline processes, reduce waste, and improve overall efficiency.

Another success story comes from Vanguard, one of the world's largest investment management companies. Vanguard implemented the KMM, leading to a significant improvement in flow metrics. Kanban teams outperformed Scrum teams, demonstrating the effectiveness of the KMM in driving positive change. The successful implementation of KMM enabled Vanguard to adapt quickly to market demands, resulting in improved customer satisfaction and increased market competitiveness.

The Kanban Maturity Model is more than just a board with coloured tickets. It is a transformative framework that empowers organizations to achieve superior agility, delight customers, and secure long-term survival. With its seven levels of organizational maturity, the KMM serves as a roadmap for continuous improvement and meaningful change. By adopting the Kanban Maturity Model, organizations can unlock their full potential, fostering a culture of excellence and continuous growth.


In conclusion, the Kanban Maturity Model offers a structured approach to achieving organizational excellence by providing a roadmap for growth and transformation. Organizations that embrace the KMM can enhance their agility, improve customer satisfaction, and secure long-term success in today's dynamic business landscape. With a clear understanding of the seven levels of maturity and the benefits they bring, businesses can chart their course towards becoming market leaders and ensuring their survival and success for years to come. Embrace the power of the Kanban Maturity Model and unlock the full potential of your organization or boost your career. Enrol in our Kanban certification training, where you'll discover the secrets to superior agility, delighted customers, and consistent growth.

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