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Figure 1: An example process leveraging the principles of a Kanban board –

A Kanban board is a visual management tool that can help an individual, team or organization continuously improve a system or process through the concepts of Kaizen (continuous improvement) and Kanban. It can be applied to any system, no matter how big or small. The principles are very simple.

For example, Kanban boards help teams manage the flow and work of a process by making it visual and interactive. Additionally they help teams to identify and eliminate the eight common wastes found in all processes and systems; Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-utilized/underutilized human talent and things (DOWNTIME).

The Kanban board can be seen helping everyday businesses and governments leverage information they might not otherwise have or be aware of. For example, you can see the Kanban board in action at Starbucks; the drive thru process tracks when customers get in line, how long they sit in line, and when they should be receiving their product and exiting the line. This kind of tracking again helps organizations identify and eliminate the eight common process-wastes.

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Figure 2: my personal Kanban board tracks all of my in coming in and completed work/tasks. The only thing missing are time stamps telling me when I started and finished an item.

The principles of the Kanban board are very simple. I use them every day at my desk (see figure 2). They help me to visualize my work and flow; what I have done, what’s pending, and what I need to do in the future in order to meet my goals and obligations. Furthermore my/team’s multiple Kanban boards help to manage and level workloads passively and quickly. Moreover, the Kanban board helps my team identify where one might need help. They help teams monitor, adapt and improve their systems.You can accomplish a lot with a Kanban board. Like my team and I, you can track daily tasks and widgets at home or work. If you keep it simple and use materials like ‘post-its’ and markers, you can set up a Kanban board anywhere (on the back of a door, in a notebook, on a tee-shirt, etc.). You can identify and fix defects quickly, encourage teams to collectively manage shared processes, and visually see work in progress. Because it’s like Taiichi Ohno said, “where there is no standard, there can be no Kaizen” and without a Kanban, standards retire.

 

References:

  1. “Kanban Boards.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 21 Dec. 2015.
  2. “What Is a Kanban Board? – LeanKit.” LeanKit. Web. 21 Dec. 2015.

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