Kanban originally is a logistic control system developed by japanese automotive manufacturer Toyota in the early 50s. It is a scheduling system for lean and just-in-time production that contorls the logistical chain from a production standpoint. Aimed at improving and maintaining a high level of production without causing bottlenecks to slow down the production process, kanban became an effective tool in a multitude of production systems.
Throughout the recent years the, kanban became a method that has been increasingly popular in the field of software development. Based on the idea of preventing bottlenecks, this method follows a work-in-progress limited pull system where team members pro-actively assign themselves open tasks from the backlog once they completed an ongoing task. This way, work is being distributed evenly without overloading the team members with work packages.
As defined by David J. Anderson, the kanban method has six core principles:
Source: <span class="reference-text" style="font-size: 0.8em;">Anderson, David (September 2003). <em>Agile Management for Software Engineering: Applying the Theory of Constraints for Business Results</em>. Prentice Hall. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Standard_Book_Number" title="International Standard Book Number">ISBN</a> <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:BookSources/0-13-142460-2" title="Special:BookSources/0-13-142460-2">0-13-142460-2</a>.</span>