Struggling with a gigantic to-do list? Wondering how to fit everything in to your busy life? Maybe you need to tackle a huge project, but aren’t sure where to begin.
Ever heard of Kanban? It’s an approach that comes from agile project management.
Whoa. Hold on! Before you get scared away by project management jargon, realize it’s an extremely simple tool that even kids can use.
All you need is a marker, sticky notes, and a wall or bulletin board.
Kanban is an engineering approach that emerged in the 1980s from Japan’s automotive industry. Engineers were stumped about how to manufacture cars faster and more efficiently, but also keep high quality. So they invented Kanban, which revolutionized the automobile industry.
The engineers created a visual representation of all the factory activities—the inputs and outputs needed to produce a working car. Kanban in Japanese means “signboard.” The engineers created a board showing the number of ordered cars (the “backlog”), cars being assembled (in progress), and cars finished.
Simply put, Kanban is a way to organize your work and keep it visible.
This is known as agile project management. When you can see the entire picture of the work you need to get done and the progress you are making as you go, it becomes less overwhelming.
I’m all about making work less stressful.
Agile project management is all the rage in the software development industry. Companies like Apple and Google use it to rapidly develop products and ship them to customers.
Since a Kanban board is a visual representation of the work, companies use it so their teams can see the big picture, and so each person can pull individual work he/she needs to get done.
The Kanban board can be as simple as a big chart on the wall comprised of sticky notes falling under three columns:
To see Kanban in action, check out this video: