What is Kanban

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Kanban is a method for managing work which balances demand with capacity. Work items are visualised so progress of individual items are transparent. Team members pull work as they have capacity, rather than work being “pushed” into the process when requested.

Literally translated to ‘bulletine board’. Kanban is a manufacturing process system developed in Japan. In this process, the supply of components is regulated through the use of an instruction card sent along the production line.


Kanban helps you harness the power of visual information by using sticky notes on a whiteboard to create a “picture” of your work. Seeing how your work flows within your team’s process lets you not only communicate status but also give and receive context for the work.

Kanban takes information that typically would be communicated via words and turns it into easily readable and understandble ‘status’ board.


Unlike other methods that force fit change from the get-go, Kanban is about evolution, not revolution. It hinges on the fundamental truth that you can’t get where you want to go without first knowing where you are.

Kanban is gaining traction as a way to smoothly implement Agile management methods in tech and non-tech companies around the world. Throughout this fresh take on Toyota’s manufacturing process, Kanban’s core elements have remained rooted in the principles below.

1. Visualise Work

By creating a visual model of your work and workflow, you can observe the flow of work moving through your Kanban system. Making the work visible—along with blockers, bottlenecks and queues—instantly leads to increased communication and collaboration.

2. Limit Work in Process

By limiting how much unfinished work is in process, you can reduce the time it takes an item to travel through the Kanban system. You can also avoid problems caused by task switching and reduce the need to constantly prioritise items.

3. Focus on Flow

By using work-in-process (WIP) limits and developing team-driven policies, you can optimize your Kanban system to improve the smooth flow of work, collect metrics to analyze flow, and even get leading indicators of future problems by analyzing the flow of work.

4. Continuous Improvement

Once your Kanban system is in place, it becomes the cornerstone for a culture of continuous improvement. Teams measure their effectiveness by tracking flow, quality, throughput, lead times and more. Experiments and analysis can change the system to improve the team’s effectiveness.

Kanban can be easily adapted and is immensely powerful for it’s simplicity, have you considered using it in your workplace? You may find it surprisingly helpful.