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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement


Why You Need to At Least Consider a Digital Kanban Board

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 22, 2018 1:35:26 PM

The Kanban technique started in the late 1940’s as Toyota looked to rethink its approach to manufacturing. The object was to reduce waste, improve efficiency and enable what’s come to be known as just-in-time manufacturing. Toyota’s workers displayed colorful Kanban cards to communicate to downstream workers that there was a demand for parts. (Kanban means “visual signal” or “shopkeepers card” in Japanese.) This visual management approach helped teams communicate instantly about what needed to be done and when.

Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that the Kanban approach has evolved to be useful for information workers and others in a variety of industries. The most common application is a physical board that shows work that is in the queue, in-progress, and completed. A physical Kanban board works great for small, centrally located teams with a limited number of projects in play at any one time. However, more complex groups which are distributed and organizations that want a centralized view of all improvement work have turned to digital Kanban boards instead. Here are a few benefits of the approach.

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Topics: Kanban, Improvement Process

Common Questions About Kanban Boards

Posted by Matt Banna

Apr 25, 2018 2:17:29 PM

One of the great things about working at KaiNexus is that our team has lots of insightful conversations with customers, prospects, consultants, trainers, and others interested in the tools and techniques associated with continuous improvement. We often get together and share notes on what topics are trending and what information people in the field are looking for.

Lately, the subject of Kanban and Kanban boards has come up quite a bit. We think this is driven by a larger trend toward visual management and dashboards for all business functions. It’s clear from our conversations that people have questions about how Kanban fits into a well-managed improvement culture.

We can’t claim to have all of the answers, but here are a few of the most important.

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Topics: Kanban, Visual Management

How to Avoid 3 Visual Management Mistakes

Posted by Clint Corley

Jan 30, 2017 8:10:00 AM

Visual management, sometimes called visual control, is the technique of communicating information using visual signals rather than text or written instruction. People process visual images much more quickly than text, so the approach is an excellent way to achieve efficiency and clarity of communications. We often think of huddle boards or Kanban cards when we think about visual management, but it can take many forms. For example, some organizations have different colored uniforms for different teams, others use visual cues to mark where tools should be placed when not in use.

The advantages of visual management are easy to imagine, but there are a few common mistakes that keep organizations from getting the most out of the approach. Here are a few that you can avoid.

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Topics: Kaizen, Kanban

The Evolution of Kanban

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 24, 2016 8:10:00 AM

The idea of Kanban refers to the visual management of inventory and work in progress. It was widely used by Toyota and many people think of it as something that was developed for and by auto manufacturers, but the story is much bigger than that. Kanban isn’t really something that was invented, it is something that evolved.

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Topics: Kanban

One Off the Wall Way to Make Your Huddle Boards Better

Posted by Maggie Millard

Nov 10, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Huddle boards are great. They serve as a powerful visual management tool and bring people together around improvement efforts. People feel good and empowered when they see their ideas for improvement progress from one stage of completion to another. Leaders get insight into the health of the organization’s improvement culture and they can measure engagement and momentum.

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Topics: Kanban, Continuous Improvement Software

What is Kanban?

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Sep 8, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Continuous improvement is such an important part of modern business that organizations and experts have developed numerous process methodologies, techniques, and tools to support such efforts. Of course, no company uses them all. Most pick several approaches that fit well with their structure and culture. One technique that is popular in a surprisingly wide array of business types is Kanban. In the simplest terms, Kanban is better communication through visual management.

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Topics: Kanban

What is Kanban and How Does It Support Improvement?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jun 23, 2016 8:00:00 AM

There are dozens of methodologies, tools, and techniques that organizations use to support their continuous improvement efforts. We find that most successful companies pick a few approaches that work well for them. If improvement work stalls, or a new and different type of challenge arises, they may try another technique. Whether you are just getting started with improvement work or if your practice is mature, you might consider adding a tool known as Kanban.

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Topics: Kanban

What is Kanban and Why Should You Care?

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Aug 12, 2015 7:18:00 AM

If you are new to the world of Lean, Six Sigma or continuous improvement in general, you may be scratching your head over some of the terms flying around you. It can certainly be confusing, especially with so many of the words having originated in Japan. We’re here to help. Today we are going to take a look at the concept known as Kanban.

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Topics: Kanban

Applying the Principles of Kanban to Knowledge Work

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Mar 24, 2015 7:16:00 AM

In the 1940’s, Toyota discovered that their production process could be improved by implementing a visual system for monitoring the flow of parts from the supplier, to the warehouse, and to the assembly line. The system of matching inventory with demand allowed for a “just-in-time” provisioning and production process that reduced costs, improved quality and sped the pace of production.

They called the process Kanban, which is the Japanese term for “signboard” or “visual signal.” The approach was effective and “Kanban Cards” began appearing in manufacturing companies across the globe.

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Topics: Kanban

To Better Understand Kanban, Have a Burrito

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Oct 22, 2014 11:16:00 AM

The Kanban method, often implemented in conjunction with the Lean business process methodology, was created as part of the Toyota Production System to help Toyota become more efficient way back in the 1940’s.  Since then, Kanban has been used and adapted to move materials in hospitals and to manage work in software companies and construction projects. 

Kanban is all about visualization.  In fact, the word Kanban means signboard or billboard in Japanese.  Here are the guiding principles:

  1. Work is visualized
  2. Work-in-progress (WIP) is limited
  3. Interruptions in flow represent potential improvement
  4. Improvement is continuous

A Burrito Will Make it All Make Sense

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Topics: Lean, Kanban

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