OPTIMIZE PROCESSES WITH KANBAN METHODOLOGY: WHAT IS AND HOW TO USE IT?
The Kanban methodology formulated by David J. Anderson is an approach to the evolutionary process and change systems within an organization.
In layman’s terms, the Kanban methodology can be defined as:
- A way to organize the chaos that surrounds teams by making the need to prioritize tasks and maintain a clear focus for everyone.
- A way to discover and solve problems in your process and workflow in order that your customers can be consistently supplied .
Kanban achieves these goals by introducing process constraints to optimize the value stream. If you have considerable tasks and activities flow but what is being done has no value, then you’ve worked in vain.
If the value of your business is not flowing consistently through your company to your consumers, your business can’t be performing at its best. Beyond this, by shifting the focus to flow, the Kanban methodology helps you adjust your mind to value more the completion of tasks rather than starting them.
Kanban Methodology: Stop starting and start finishing!
Sounds like common sense, right? But most of us are programmed to value what we begin to develop. The Kanban methodology reminds us to stop starting multiple tasks and start completing them instead.
There are 9 points in the method you need to know. They are divided between four basic principles (what you need to think) and five properties (what you need to do).
Kanban Basic Principles
1. Start with what you do now
The Kanban methodology does not prescribe a specific procedure. You can apply it to your company’s existing workflow to bring clarity to your problems so you can make positive changes over time. This makes it very easy to implement the method as you do not have to make many changes.
2. Agree to pursue incremental and evolutionary changes
This is an approach to change the management that has been designed to achieve the least resistance. Thus, the method encourages evolutionary and incremental changes in your current system that are small and continuous. Radical changes are avoided as they usually encounter great resistance.
3. Respect the current processes, roles, responsibilities and titles
The method recognizes the value in existing processes, roles, responsibilities, and titles; there are probably good points in your way of doing things that work well and should be preserved. The methodology does not prohibit change, but it doesn’t make it necessary either. If you prefer, make incremental changes that don’t generate concerns that could impede progress. Changes to the minor course are easier than altering the process completely.
“The first three principles were created to avoid emotional resistance to change” – David J Anderson
4. Encourage leadership attitudes at every level.
This attitude is encouraged by various methodologies and Kanban is no exception. You do not have to be a supervisor / coordinator or an executive to be a leader. Some of the most inspiring leaders come to the forefront of your team through the daily attitudes of “ordinary people”. Everyone must feed a continuous improvement mindset to achieve the best performance as a team / department / company. This should not be a management-only attitude.
1. View the workflow
You must understand what it takes to bring an item from order to delivery. The goal of the Kanban methodology is to make positive changes to optimize the workflow in your company. Only once you understand how your workflow currently works can you begin to think about improving it by making the necessary adjustments.
Making changes before understanding the scenario is like putting car in front of the horse and can lead you to make choices that are at best useless and at worst harmful.
The most common way to view your workflow is by using cards and columns, where they represent steps in your flow.
It is important to remember that there is no correct workflow or correct categories for your projects. The Kanban method does not indicate a specific flow, if we talk to 5 people from 5 different companies, we would probably find 5 distinct workflows.
2. Limit work in progress
Limiting the amount of activities under development implies a system of “swapping” in parts or all of the flow.
The bottom line is that the amount of work in progress at each step in the flow is limited and that new work “changes lanes” to the next step as soon as it becomes available. These restrictions will quickly illuminate the most problematic areas of your workflow so you can identify and solve problems. Limiting ongoing tasks is one of the main pillars of the Kanban methodology.
3. Manage the flow
The goal of creating a Kanban process system is to create positive change. But before creating change, you must know what to change. You figure out what to change by understanding how your flow is running, analyzing the problem areas where work least evolves and defining the changes and then implementing them.
Repeat the process to see what effect your changes had on your system, because you need to know if the changes had a positive or negative impact on what you wanted to change. It is an endless cycle.
4. Make procedural policies known
You can’t improve on something you don’t understand. The process needs to be defined, published and socialized – explicitly and succinctly. Without an explicit understanding of how things work and how work is done, any discussion of problems tends to be emotional and subjective.
When everyone understands what you are doing now and what your goals are, you can start making decisions that move you in a positive direction. Choices will be more rational, empirical, and discussions of problems more objective. This facilitates consensus on suggestions for improvements.
5. Improve collaboratively
Continuous improvement is a key part of learning how to use the Kanban methodology process correctly. If you are not continually improving, but are doing all the other parts of the Kanban methodology, you’re doing it wrong.
When teams have a shared understanding of the workflow, processes and risks, it is easier for them to build a unique understanding of the problem and to suggest improvement measures that are proposed by consensus.