Kanban Method - What is it and how does it work?

August 16th 2022

Today we bring you an article about the Kanban methodology where you can discover what it is and its origin, how it is implemented and its benefits.  

The Kanban method is a means to design, manage and improve processes for knowledge work, it allows us to determine what is the existing workflow and drive an evolutionary change.   

A curious fact about this method is its origin: Kanban is a method that was developed by Toyota to streamline the manufacturing processes of its automobiles. Inspired by the "Just in Time" ordering practices seen in grocery shops, Toyota's line workers used a Kanban (i.e. an actual card) to mark the steps in their manufacturing process.  

That practice has continued and these physical (or virtual) "cards" called Kanban are the ones that move through the process from start to finish, we can use Post-its for example. To understand it better in the management environment, let's imagine a whiteboard, divided into vertical lanes. Each lane represents a step in the process, from "To do", to "Doing" and "Finished".  

In Kanban, work always starts on the left side of the board and progresses to the right: the left lane generally contains work items that have not been started, and the right lane contains work items that have been completed.  

In addition to allowing us to see the process steps, Kanban boards can also provide visibility of other information about your work, such as process policies (rules for using the board) and work-in-process (WIP) limits.   

We can say that Kanban takes the information that we normally communicate through words and turns it into a pattern for the brain. By turning all your "to-dos" into cards on a board, Kanban helps clarify what is important, helping us to stay focused on the work that matters most. It provides a shared space where everyone involved in a job can find the most up-to-date information.  

So, in essence, Kanban is a scheduling system for lean and other Just in Time (JIT) processes. The aim is to maintain a constant flow of Kanban so that as activities are closed at the end of the process, they are balanced by activities at the beginning. What method do you use?  

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