Kanban is Japanese for sign or billboard. It’s success and popularity in manufacturing, logistics and project management circles has led to it being implemented across various industries.
What does a sign do? It gives you information to advise or direct. I remember several years ago seeing someone complete a SWOT analysis on a department. The activity was thorough and good points were raised. However, beyond use in that one meeting it was never viewed or talked about again. The point being is that they created a map and never used it to direct them. Having a map and not knowing which direction to head in makes the map obsolete.
The mapping of processes and workflows shouldn’t be an agenda item or something that looks good on a wall to tell people just how lean you are – it should be a map to consult regularly.
Flows help you see the current direction – if you’re heading for the wrong place you can course correct.
Which way now? Not – Which way yesterday?