The 7 Kanban Cadences

2022-01-12 13:37:25
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Summary : Learn about the 7 Kanban cadences and what’s discussed in each agile cadence. See how Kanban meetings are made more efficient with ZenTao.
A cadence can be characterized more simply as a rhythmic sequence. A cadence in the workplace refers to where, when, and how a leader or boss and his colleagues interact daily. It’s also the time and place where senior team members and workers can exchange ideas and knowledge.

What Are Kanban and Cadence

Kanban originates from 看板 (kanban in Kanji), a Japanese term for "signboard" or "billboard". It is a lean approach for organizing and developing function. This strategy attempts to handle work by matching demands with sufficient resources and optimizing the handling of system-level bottlenecks. It visualizes both the process (the workflow) and the real work that goes into it. It aims to find possible bottlenecks in the process and fix them so that work can pass through them quickly and at an optimum pace or throughput.

ZenTao ALM-Kanban


Kanban is commonly used in today's Agile and DevOps tech teams, but the Kanban method goes back more than 50 years. Toyota started refining the manufacturing processes in the late 1940s using the same engineering process as retailers used to store their shelves. As Toyota implemented the same scheme on its factory floors, they aimed to better balance their vast inventory levels with real material usage. To do this, the staff would pass a card, or "kanban," between teams to communicate ability levels in real-time on the factory floor (and to suppliers) and use a Kanban board to track progress.


Kanban Cadences are a sequence of meetings that facilitate proper bi-directional coordination at all levels of the company. They can be compared to the body's mechanism of metabolic feedback loops in all of its cells, tissues, and vital organs. Kanban cadences allow teams to deliver working software at a stable and steady pace. A team that can deliver at a regular cadence can manage its velocity. 

The term "delivery cadence"...implies establishing a pattern of delivery of working software at a regular interval. Unlike Agile development methods which have time-boxed iterations, Kanban cadences allow it to adjust to its own natural pace. The seven Kanban cadences are
  • Kanban Meetings
  • Replenishment Meeting
  • Operations Review
  • Delivery Planning Meeting
  • Service Delivery Review
  • Risk Review
  • Strategy Review

The seven Kanban cadences can be grouped into three groups if we look at their functions:

  • Getting things done: Kanban Meeting, and Delivery Planning Meeting;
  • Doing the right things: Operations Review, Risk Review, and Service Delivery Review;
  • Doing things better: Strategy Review, and Replenishment Meeting.

They can also be grouped into two groups in terms of the purpose of the meeting:

  • Service delivery: Kanban Meeting, Replenishment Meeting, and Delivery Planning;
  • improvement/evolution: Service Delivery Review, Operations Review, Risk Review, and Strategy Review.

Essential Kanban Condensed Guide by David Anderson and Andy Carmichael

As you can see in the image above, two flows connect the seven cadences of Kanban. One is the flow of information, which delivers feedback from one cadence to another. The other one is the flow of change, which is about the actions and decisions made in one cadence that have an impact on another cadence. 

Cadence Meaning in Scrum

The meaning of cadence in Scrum is defined by two concepts: Inspect and Adapt. These two practices make Scrum agile. These concepts are seen during Daily Scrum and Sprint sessions. 

The Agile Manifesto focuses on continuous improvement and this is demonstrated in the Daily Scrum and Sprint events. Scrum meetings focus on inspecting what has been done and what needs to be worked on by each team member. 

In the iterative work cadences of the Inspect and Adapt sessions, all people involved in the development should attend including, but not limited to, agile teams, solutions architects, business owners, product management, and quality assurance members.

Kanban Cadences

  • Kanban Meeting
Frequency: daily
Duration: 15 minutes

Attendee: the service delivery manager, the team

Kanban meetings, aka daily meetings, are similar to the daily standup meetings in Scrum. The Kanban planning session is designed to observe and track task status and to keep the team on the same page. The difference in organizing Kanban meetings compared to other review sessions is that the former focuses on the flow. The team read from the right of the board to the left, finding the blockage, and ensuring the work moved out of the system.

  • Replenishment Meetings
Frequency: weekly or on-demand
Duration: 20-30 minutes
Attendee: the product owner, the development management, the team

A Kanban Replenishment Meeting is designed to pull new items into the queue and prioritize work items. As Kanban is a pull system, the items in the backlog will be pulled and worked on constantly once there is a vacancy in the swimlane. This is to ensure a smooth transition of WIP items.

  • Delivery Planning
Frequency: per delivery
Duration: 1-2 hours
Attendee: the service delivery manager, every team member

During the Delivery Planning Meeting, agile teams review the work done and decide which items to deliver for the next few weeks of delivery. Issues found in Delivery Planning Meetings are tagged and carried over to the Risk Review session.

  • Service Delivery Review Meetings
Frequency: bi-weekly
Duration: 30 minutes
Attendee: the  service delivery manager, the team

The Service Delivery Meeting is made to check whether customer expectations are met in the delivered product. The Service Delivery Review in Kanban also looks at the team performance and work velocity, and is the time to set metrics.

  • Operations Review
Frequency: monthly
Duration: 2 hours
Attendee: the  service delivery managers, the service request managers, customer representatives, other managerial

The Operations Review meeting is for analyzing the efficiency of teams, and the demand and capacity of each Kanban team. Managers from all departments are expected to share their findings on business performance and propose initiatives that concern organization-level changes.

  • Risk Review
Frequency: monthly
Duration: 1-2 hours
Attendee: the  service delivery managers, the team, other managers

The Risk Review portion of Kanban meetings focuses on looking at the issues and bottlenecks identified at the Operations Review and the Service Delivery Review sessions. During this agile cadence, the risks are assessed so that they can be avoided in the future, especially when they repeatedly appear during the iterations.

  • Strategy Review Meetings
Frequency: quarterly
Duration: half-day
Attendee: senior executives, Product Owners, customer-facing seniors
A Strategy Review is the top-level meeting to identify potential large-scale problems and find solutions. Decisions made during this Kanban meeting will be sent to Operations Review and Service Delivery Review with updated OKRs.


Kanban agile cadences are meetings in a regular rhythm. The Kanban meetings work as the heartbeat of the delivery process. Kanban cadences facilitate continuous information flow within the organization, so the team can check the process, provide feedback, continuously improve itself, and deliver working software at the expected time.  

Kanban meetings can be better tracked with the use of ZenTao - the most popular open-source scrum tool. ZenTao has sprint management with Kanban and Burndown charts, among other features useful in project management. Schedule a demo today to get an idea of how this tool can help you improve Kanban cadences.
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