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    Entries in kanban (2)


    Make your work visible

    Walking past a tall city building yesterday I noticed data on TV screens showing how much CO2 they were producing, how much electricity was being used and how much water was being consumed. There were other measures too but these were the big numbers. All on show. Their consumption and production…visible.

    The TV screens and information caught my eye because I'd just finished a meeting at a client business who uses techniques of 'visual management' throughout the organisation, but on the inside of the building!

    Here's what they make visible: the key tasks that teams are about to work on (to do), the tasks they are working on (doing), and tasks just completed (done). This info is visible throughout the business.

    You never have to wonder what they do in any team or unit because you can see it! Pictures on the walls, sketches on noticeboards, data on monitors, handwritten information and post-it notes on charts.

    So here is a tool for you...

    This visual tool is one that will help you manage your:
    To do
    Doing, and

    The approach of making work visible is based on a technique called Personal Kanban, adapted from the lean manufacturing world of building cars. 

    You make your work visible and minimise the number of tasks you're juggling! 

    In his book Personal Kanban, Jim Benson guides you to be more productive and effective, and transform tasks that can appear conceptual... into actionable steps.

    It brings clarity to overloaded desks and those crazy-long 'to do' lists. 

    So the mini Kanban visual above is a page for you to click, save and print out.

    Start putting a couple of items on your 'To Do' column. Write each task on a post it note. Move a task over to 'Doing' and start doing it.

    When you're done, move it to the 'Done' column.

    Then move another item over from 'To Do and start doing that. 

    I use this type of Kanban approach often - particularly when there is too much to do. Great clarity, focus and super-productive. It keeps work visible, it lets you and others know what you're working on. It's transparent, communicative and clear. 

    Niiiice! See?


    Stop starting. Start finishing. 

    I'm interested: how do you control and monitor what you're doing? What you're working on? What's next on the list?

    In the office of one of my transport industry clients last week, I noticed again how all of their work areas have ... not coffee machines, but ... whiteboards. Offices have them, every other working area has them, and pod and desk areas have group whiteboards. 

    But these are different to most I've seen before. Every whiteboard is structured, labelled with columns and full of information about 'what's going on'. Many of the boards have permanent lines, permanent marker headings with erasable or movable content on Post-it notes or cards. 

    This business is proud of the visualisation they use. It helps them monitor what's on, what's coming and what's done and it is certainly a key reason why their performance is on the rise!

    While visualisation might be an obvious must-do for a business in production, logistics or project management, it can also be a lesser-known but still powerful tool for small business, entrepreneurs and businesses going through change.

    I'm loving Kanban : the visual process management approach that has its origins in Japan's just-in-time production methods. There are variations and applications of Kanban, so keep it simple for your team or business - or for the family!

    The 'three bin' system of categorising work-in-progress (WIP) and workflow is a way to stop adding more things to the 'to do' list and start completing things. 

    Try these three headings to start:

    • To Do
    • In Progress
    • Done

    And limit the numbers of tasks or work-in-progress to two or three items. The 'Stop starting. Start finishing' mantra of Lean and Kanban methods means you can't keep adding to the To Do list; you need to get some of the In Progress stuff done!

    This truly helps you and the team visualise activity, performance and outcomes, and it answers the 'what's going on' question exceptionally well. Talk people through the board. Have a stand-up meeting at the board. Point to the board. Refer to the information on the board. 

    A grand outcome I can 'see' is that collaboration, communication and buy-in is boosted, throughout what can be unsettling times of transformation and change.

    This e-news : Done.