Many people who are familiar with Lean methodologies, are also familiar with Kanban (not to be confused with Kan Jam – the popular tailgating game). Kanban is a proven method of managing materials and workflow to minimize waste and maximize productivity.
Kanban’s humble beginnings can be traced back to a Toyota company in Japan in the late 1940’s. Kanban was developed from a type of manufacturing they were working on called “just in time,” which held a strong focus on customer demand, rather than mass production. Essentially, it is a method that encourages the steady flow of materials and work over time in an effort to streamline production.
Kanban allows every employee to see and track the workflow of any given project. In simple terms, it follows a ‘to-do, doing, done’ format in which employees pull their part of the work through a timeline. This is important because it allows everyone to be on the same page at any given time. It opens the door for employees to be more responsive to one another’s needs and allows companies to easily identify where the work is hitting a bottleneck. Once revealed, these issues can be addressed to maximize efficiency.
How to Kanban
The key to success with the Kanban system is limiting work that exists in the ‘doing’ category. Kanban operates under the thoroughly researched idea that multi-tasking and forced attention shifts halt progress. Instead, Kanban suggests placing a limit on the number of tasks in that column at any one time. The idea here is to ‘pull’ tasks through the process in a streamlined manner, instead of pushing or forcing tasks through the process just to get them out the door.
Ultimately, this process boosts team morale and collaboration, leading to higher quality products and more efficient production.
If Kanban is something you want to learn more about, contact the Lean Learning Center for free information on how to get started at 248-906-8605.
Download our FREE Kanban Information Sheet by clicking here.