“Kanban is not clever workflow management. It is a tool for Kaizen – a device to reveal problems and lead people to think more deeply about their work” --- Taiichi Ohno
Learning effective use of the Kanban board for Kaizen during standup is a key part of a team’s successful transition to Lean.
Often the biggest (and most valuable) cultural changes with the move to Lean is creating a Sense of Urgency. The focus is today: What can we finish today? What is the most important thing to work on today?
The team should “get annoyed” at any work item that is not moving. What’s on the goal line? Why can’t we get it into the end zone? Why do we have so many items in the Red Zone?
Per Ohno-san, use the board daily for improvement questions such as:
- How do we work now? Does the board reflect that? Do we agree? Could we say we have a “standard” process?
- What is the work for the team to do? Does the board show our status? (e.g., someone returning from holiday knows exactly what to do next) Do we all agree? Is there a better way to show/communicate the work?
- What improvement experiments are underway? Are there quality issues? Who has a better way to do this? What is bugging me about this?
- What “non-value-add” activities are distracting the team? (Visible to management during their Gemba Walk)
- Can we “walk the board”?
Explicitly schedule daily kaizen, or make it the focus of the standup until it becomes a habit.
If your board consist of “To Do”, “Doing” and “Done”, then you do not have a Kanban board, you have a grocery list. This is usually a sign of a team that doesn’t work together or hasn’t worked together previously. Getting to a more rigorous specification of your work should be your team’s first order of business.