The Alice in Wonderland Experiment

Thanks to Pawel Brodzinski for the reminder tweet that we should read our kanban boards from right to left (‘done’ to ‘backlog’).

I am wondering what would happen if we built the board the other way around so that reading it left to right started at ‘done’ (or in my case ‘learning outcome’).  So I have started an experiment with my personal kanban board and called it ‘The Alice in Wonderland Experiment’. It is rather like walking through a normal kanban wall and looking at it from the other side.

Day 1, Friday 9th November 2012

So far, so good – three tasks done and a few lined up to start next week.  I eliminated the lines and headings on my board a few months ago so I have drawn them onto the photo – felt that I needed a change – maybe this is it.

Lean Coffee, 13th November 2012

We tried running the Lean Coffee kanban backwards. It made no difference, probably because the kanban only exists for about 1 hour.

Thursday 15th November 2012

I relented and drew the lines on the board.

What I have found is that each morning I reflect on the learning outcomes of anything that is in the done column first and move it to ‘Do More’, ‘Pivot’ or ‘Do Less’. I am also a bit less inclined to pile work into the backlog because it sits at ‘the end’ of the board – this is an unexpected benefit.  Will monitor over the next few days to see if the pattern continues or not.

Friday 16th November 2012

The experiment has run for 1 week. I am going to keep my board this way. Below is a summary of the outcomes.

Did the experiment cause any harm?

  • No – not that I am aware of, I have only impacted my personal kanban board, I did not neglect any of my tasks, and a few people have shown interest in the experiment.


  • More focus on learning outcomes – as it is now the first (left-most) column on the board
  • Less inclination to load up the backlog – as it is the end (right-most) column
  • Moving tasks is just as easy right to left as the traditional left to right movement


  • This way of running the Personal Kanban board is working for me, so I will keep on with it. It would be great to hear outcomes from anyone else who has tried this.


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