Kanban is a visual system for managing work as it moves through a process. Kanban visualizes both the process (the workflow) and the actual work passing through that process. The goal of Kanban is to identify potential bottlenecks in your process and fix them so work can flow through it cost-effectively at an optimal speed or throughput.
Kanban Principles & Practices
The Kanban Method follows a set of principles and practices for managing and improving the flow of work. It is an evolutionary, non-disruptive method that promotes gradual improvements to an organization’s processes. If you follow these principles and practices, you will successfully be able to use Kanban for maximizing the benefits to your business process – improve flow, reduce cycle time, increase value to the customer, with greater predictability – all of which are crucial to any business today.
The four foundational principles and six Core Practices of the Kanban Methodology are provided below:
Foundational Principles
Start with what you are doing now: The Kanban Method (hereafter referred to as just Kanban) strongly emphasizes not making any change to your existing setup/ process right away. Kanban must be applied directly to current workflow. Any changes needed can occur gradually over a period of time at a pace the team is comfortable with.
Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary change: Kanban encourages you to make small incremental changes rather than making radical changes that might lead to resistance within the team and organization.
Initially, respect current roles, responsibilities and job-titles: Unlike other methods, Kanban does not impose any organizational changes by itself. So, it is not necessary to make changes to your existing roles and functions which may be performing well. The team will collaboratively identify and implement any changes needed. These three principles help the organizations overcome the typical emotional resistance and the fear of change that usually accompany any change initiatives in an organization.
Encourage acts of leadership at all levels: Kanban encourages continuous improvement at all the levels of the organization and it says that leadership acts don’t have to originate from senior managers only. People at all levels can provide ideas and show leadership to implement changes to continually improve the way they deliver their products and services.
6 Core Practices of the Kanban Method
Visualize the flow of work:
Limit WIP (Work in Progress):
Manage Flow:
Make Process Policies Explicit:
Implement Feedback Loops:
Improve Collaboratively, Evolve Experimentally (using the scientific method):
Books Recommended:
Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life Kindle Edition
by Tonianne DeMaria Barry (Author), Jim Benson