Kanbanflow is a tool for communicating information, which means “visible board/card” in Japanese. Kanban informs us about what and how much we need to accomplish. Kanbanflow describes the Kanban process. It provides a clear and organized approach to managing tasks, emphasizing the ‘what’ and ‘how much’ aspects of our daily responsibilities. Kanbanflow takes this concept further by illustrating the Kanban process, offering an insightful perspective into how we can optimize our workflow and improve efficiency in both personal and professional settings. This system not only streamlines task management but also fosters a culture of productivity and continuous improvement.
Versatility of Kanbanflow
Kanbanflow, traditionally rooted in the manufacturing sector, has evolved far beyond its original industrial confines. Its applicability extends to service processes and even personal life management, highlighting its remarkable versatility. The essence of Kanban lies in its visual nature, which is central to its effectiveness. Any tool or method that visually signals tasks or actions to be taken can be categorized under the Kanban umbrella. This includes a wide array of implementations, from sophisticated digital task managers to simple, physical task boards. In service industries, Kanbanflow aids in streamlining processes, ensuring a smooth and efficient workflow. Similarly, in personal life, it transforms into an intuitive system for organizing daily tasks, goals, and responsibilities. This adaptability makes Kanban not just a method for industrial efficiency, but a comprehensive approach to task management in diverse settings, empowering users to visualize and control their work and personal projects with greater clarity and efficiency.
Kanban for Task Management
I use Kanban to manage tasks. It works perfectly, provided we don’t overdo it and start adding tasks like “call…”. My Kanban “tells me” what I need to do (in the scope of my projects) and at which stage of work I currently am. The idea is for the process to speak to us and inform us. Additionally, I also use different colored cards to code information. Each color represents a different type of activity placed on the Kanban board. Sometimes I use sketching. This technique makes a project more attractive to me. I arrange cards according to the “urgency” principle. I don’t use the “importance” principle because I don’t plan for unimportant tasks.
Examples of Kanbanflow in Daily Life
I have encountered numerous fascinating instances of visual management integrated into our everyday lives. In particular, during a research study I conducted among managers operating in Lean environments, I explored how Lean principles and tools are adapted for personal use. The study unearthed some innovative and practical applications of these principles.
Kanbanflow Example: Firewood for a Fireplace
One such example is the use of a Kanban system for managing firewood for a fireplace. In this scenario, an empty space designated for storing firewood acts as a visual cue. When the space is vacant, it signals to the household, particularly the husband in this instance, that it’s time to restock the firewood. This simple yet effective visual indicator ensures a consistent supply without the need for reminders or checklists.
Kanbanflow Example: Refuling a Car
Another creative adaptation I discovered was the implementation of a Kanban system for refueling a car. Instead of waiting for the fuel to deplete completely or relying on the fuel gauge’s warning light, individuals using this system establish a predetermined fuel level as a trigger for refueling. When the fuel gauge reaches this specified level, it acts as a visual prompt to refuel the car, thereby avoiding the risk of running out of fuel unexpectedly.
Simplifying Life through Visual Management
The core philosophy of visual management is centered around the simplification of our daily lives through easily interpretable visual cues. This approach minimizes the cognitive load required to process information, replacing complex lists and instructions with straightforward, visual signals. The objective is to create an environment where the need for active recall is significantly reduced, allowing for a more intuitive and immediate understanding of what needs to be done. Visual management supports digital solutions.
Visual management takes various forms, ranging from color-coded systems to spatial arrangements, each designed to provide instant recognition and guidance. For instance, in a household setting, a color-coded calendar can quickly convey the schedule of each family member or a series of labeled bins can streamline the process of sorting recycling. In a professional context, visual management might involve a workflow chart that depicts the stages of a project or a dashboard that highlights key performance indicators. Visual management can be used in the SOP – Standard Operating Procedure which can be managed within SOP Software.
Remember that invisible work is work that remains uncontrolled. Therefore, it’s worth making activities and problems in our lives visible.
The power of Kanban in daily life. Incorporating Kanban into various aspects of our lives, from task management to daily chores, demonstrates its adaptability and effectiveness in enhancing productivity and organization. The core principle of Kanban, which is to provide visual cues for our activities and responsibilities, simplifies our decision-making process and keeps us focused on what truly matters. By embracing this concept, we not only streamline our work but also gain greater control over our personal and professional lives. Kanban, originally rooted in manufacturing, has proven to be a valuable tool for anyone seeking to maintain clarity, prioritize tasks, and make the invisible work in their life visible and manageable.
Dr. Iwona Burka holds a Ph.D. in Economics and has carved a distinguished career as a business trainer, researcher, adviser, and university lecturer. Celebrated for her contribution to various papers on management systems, she's also co-authored the seminal book, "Lean Service in theory and practice". With years immersed in the real-world implementation of management systems, Dr. Burka excels at simplifying complexities and excess. She fervently champions the optimization of organizational processes using the Lean approach combined with the Kaizen philosophy.