The Kanban Maturity Model (KMM) stands as a beacon for project managers and agile/kanban enthusiasts aiming for continuous improvement in their process management. It provides a framework to guide organizations through the evolutionary stages of Kanban, bringing about enhanced efficiency, predictability, and greater agility in response to change.

In this comprehensive guide, we will unravel the Kanban Maturity Model step by step. We aim to not just introduce you to its core concepts, but also to provide actionable insights that can be implemented in your organization.

Understanding the Kanban Maturity Model

Kanban is not merely a board of sticky notes; it’s a mindset geared toward driving incremental, evolutionary process enhancements. The KMM hinges on seven distinct maturity levels, with each stage marked by more sophisticated practices and deeper cultural anchoring within the organization.

Level 0: Oblivious

Organizations at this level are characterized by a lack of process awareness. Work is ad hoc, and there is little to no predictability in delivery.

Level 1: Emerging

Sporadic attempts at using kanban systems begin to bring visibility into workflow and work items, although processes are still in the emergent stage.

Level 2: Defined

The process is formally observed, and basic Kanban practices like limiting work in progress (WIP) start taking hold, resulting in improved delivery flow.

Level 3: Managed

Kanban practices are managed actively, allowing for improved predictability through metrics like cycle time and lead time.

Level 4: Quantitatively Managed

Processes are quantitatively controlled, and the organization uses metrics to manage both flow and quality of service.

Level 5: Optimizing

The organization consistently optimizes its kanban systems, focusing on customer satisfaction and fitness for purpose.

Level 6: Congruent

At the pinnacle, kanban is congruent with the organization’s values and actions, embedding fit-for-purpose thinking at all levels.

Implementing the Kanban Maturity Model: A Step-by-Step Approach

Here we present a roadmap that project managers can follow to evolve their Kanban practices to higher maturity levels:

Step 1: Assess Maturity Level

Understand where you currently stand in the maturity model using assessments such as the Kanban Maturity Model assessment tool.

Step 2: Visualize the Work and the Workflow

Begin by creating a Kanban board with columns that accurately represent your workflow stages. Visualizing work helps in spotting bottlenecks and improves transparency.

Step 3: Start Limiting WIP

Implement WIP limits to avoid overloading the system and to foster focus on current tasks. This increases flow and reduces cycle time.

Step 4: Embed Feedback Mechanisms

Incorporate regular review and retrospective meetings to gather feedback and identify areas for improvement.

Step 5: Introduce Explicit Policies

Clearly define process policies, such as definitions of done, and make them transparent to all stakeholders.

Step 6: Manage Flow

Use cumulative flow diagrams and other flow metrics to manage work distribution and monitor process health.

Step 7: Optimize Iteratively

Leverage the metrics and feedback to identify improvements. Regularly iterate on your process to consistently refine your approach.

Step 8: Evolve with Metrics

Gradually shift focus from qualitative measures to quantitative data to drive process optimization and decision-making.

Step 9: Benchmark and Innovate

Benchmark your performance against industry standards and foster a culture of innovation to continuously offer better value to customers.

Step 10: Cultivate Organizational Alignment

Ensure the principles of Kanban permeate the organization. Align values, strategies, and actions with the principles of flow, customer focus, and transparency.


The Kanban Maturity Model provides a comprehensive and structured path toward evolutionary improvement and organizational agility. By understanding where your organization stands and following a step-by-step approach to incrementally mature your Kanban practice, you can realize remarkable gains in productivity, quality of service, and team morale.

Kanban is a powerful tool that has the potential to transform the way you manage projects. Whether you’re just starting or looking to refine your methods, the kanban maturity model is your roadmap to Kanban excellence.

In summary, mastering the nuances of the Kanban Maturity Model can significantly enhance your organization’s operational efficiency and responsiveness. If you’re seeking to delve deeper into the concepts of flow time and wish to harness the full potential of Kanban, consider pursuing a Kanban Maturity Model certification through AgileFever. Their expert-led training programs are meticulously crafted to empower you with the knowledge and skills required to navigate the complexities of Kanban and drive meaningful, tangible improvements in your organization. Embark on this journey with AgileFever and propel your team towards peak performance and Kanban mastery.