We have a team of 7 developers. We normally work in pairs and we generally have 3 stories on the go at any one time. The 7th dev, picks up any bugs or chores that come through, happily there aren’t always any.
Yesterday as the 7th dev I tried picking up a 4th story myself. Turned out it needed some discussion, turned out it threatened the very purpose of our product. 2 days of spikes and discussions with the whole team who all cared passionately about the implications of this story and all the other stories ground to a halt. Slack could have saved us a lot of cycle time.
In situations like this, we don’t need complex ways of calculating WIP or strict policies, we just have to keep our eyes on whats happening and listen for the screams of frustration when we’re not progressing.
We just need to stay at the Gemba with our eyes and ears open.