Kanban or Just in Time productivity system is a lean method to manage and improve work across human systems. Its core purpose is minimizing waste activities without sacrificing productivity, therefore creating more value for the customer without generating more costs.
It was developed by Japanese automaker Toyota more than 60 years ago to ensure that each part was made with the same level of care and detail at every step. Thanks to the Kanban productivity system, produced parts were consistently great and finished exactly when they were most needed – just in time.
Kanban is a visual productivity system based on the idea of boards, lists, and cards.
It visualizes both the process (the workflow) and the actual work passing through that process.
Each task moves through standardized project stages, so teams can collaborate easily and manage workflow between them.
Kanban focuses on status instead of due dates, and each team member can track what they need to do, what’s in progress, and what is done. It maximizes efficiency and improves continuously.
Unlike other productivity systems, Kanban is about evolution, not revolution. Its simple truth is: you must know where you are before you can get to your desired destination.
In Kanban, work always begins on the left side of the board and goes to the right, with items that have not been started on the far left, and items that have been completed on the far right.
Kanban board is a visual way to manage tasks and workflows. It can use an analog or digital board with columns and cards.
Each board represents an overall project and has several columns that organize tasks according to their progress or current stage of development. Each column contains cards that represent specific tasks.
As you or your team work on a task or project, you move it from one column to another so everyone knows where each task is at any moment in time.
(if it sounds more complex than it is, believe me, it’s not – see picture below)
Kanban can be applied to any type of work that follows a repeatable process, and the easiest way to increase productivity is to use a simplified Kanban board:
To illustrate how Kanban works, let’s say you want to use the Kanban board to visualize writing an article.
You can use 3 columns: To Do, Doing, and Done.
First, all tasks are in the To Do column. (researching, writing, editing, looking for pictures)
Then, as you start researching ideas and looking for pictures, you move those two tasks to the Doing column.
Once you get your material, those cards are going to the Done column.
Then repeat the same process with writing and editing.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Research suggests that the brain can process visual information 60,000 times faster than text, and 40% of all nerve fibers connected to the brain are linked to the retina (eye).
Unlike other productivity systems, Kanban takes information that typically would be conveyed via words and turns it into a picture. By turning all your commitments into cards on a board, Kanban helps immensely by clarifying what is important and helping you stay focused on the task at hand.
If you work in a team, Kanban provides a visual clue to everyone involved in the project so they can quickly find all up-to-date information and work on their tasks more efficiently.
For people who prefer visual input more than any other, Kanban is one of the best productivity systems.
P.S.: This post is a part of a bigger one called The Best Productivity Systems in The World.
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