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From the Lean Lexicon 5th Edition:
Kanban: A kanban is a signaling device that gives authorization and instructions for the production or withdrawal (conveyance) of items in a pull system. The term is Japanese for “sign” or “signboard. ”Kanban cards are the best-known and most common example of these signals. They often are slips of card stock, sometimes protected in clear vinyl envelopes, stating information such as part name, part number, external supplier or internal supplying process, pack-out quantity, storage address, and consuming process address. A bar code may be printed on the card for tracking or automatic invoicing. Besides cards, kanban can be triangular metal plates, More »
Kanban As A Learning Strategy
By: Michael Ballé, Jacques Chaize, Orest (Orry) Fiume and Dan Jones | March 22, 2019
Toyota’s Kanban legacy—and its underlying ideas—have far more direct lineage with today’s digital economy than most folks realize; and capture the core elements of the disruptive lean strategy fueling many of today’s successes. More »
How Using Kanban Builds Trust
By: Michael Ballé | August 12, 2020
Kanban functions as a trust machine because everyone using it must understand what they have to do and why, says Michael Balle: "Our purpose here is to share our ideas on what we believe is important in lean thinking. " More »
How can kanban be useful in software since we never produce the same part twice?
By: Michael Ballé | January 13, 2020
Dear Gemba Coach: How can kanban be useful in software since we never produce the same part twice? More »
I don’t get kanban -- I don’t work in production so how would it apply to one-off work?
By: Michael Ballé | July 29, 2019
Dear Gemba Coach: I feel that I still don’t get kanban. I don’t work in production, and I fail to see how stock replenishment would apply to one-off work. More »
Is kanban relevant to office work?
By: Michael Balle | March 19, 2018
Dear Gemba Coach: I understand that kanban is an important part of lean, but I work in an office environment, and it’s hard to see how production orders on cardboard cards relate to improving project management – what am I missing? More »
Back-to-School Lean: Lunchbox Kanban
By: Deborah McGee | September 7, 2017
Lean thinking is just as impactful on the home front as it is at work. In honor of back-to-school season, LEI Learning Activities Manager Deb McGee shares her experimentations and learnings from transferring the work to the front line, freeing up time and building capability through lean thinking and practice -- her family's lunchbox kanban! More »
How can kanban or lean possibly apply in an office?
By: Michael Ballè | October 3, 2016
Dear Gemba Coach: You often say that one can’t do lean without kanban, and that continuous improvement without kanban is fine, but not lean. My team works on projects in an office, I fail to see how kanban applies. Are we barred from lean forever? More »
Personal Kanban: You Can’t Manage What You Can’t See
By: Drickhamer, David | November 13, 2015
Learn how to use a personal kanban board to better manage personal and project work, while improving organization, communication, and morale. More »
If I turn off MRP in favor of kanban, will the factory collapse around us?
By: Ballé, Michael | February 24, 2014
Dear Gemba Coach: Our sensei wants us to turn off MRP and work with kanban cards. I’m really nervous about this. We’ve been doing a lot of problem solving, but I’m not sure we’re ready. Any insights? More »
Why haven't kanban and value-stream mapping improved delivery from a low-volume/ high-mix process?
By: Ballé, Michael | February 21, 2013
Dear Gemba Coach,We work in a low-volume/ high-mix process with component machining and assembly. Our OTD is somewhere between 70% and 80%. We’ve invested heavily in value-stream mapping and kanban, but can’t seem to improve our delivery. Any advice? More »
Mapping your Work, Navigating Life: Personal Kanban
In this one-day immersive experience we will explore the impact of overload on both the individual and the team; politics and "work-arounds" that start quietly and quickly morph into unwritten rules; and smooth work-, information-, and communication-flows that can lead to happier, less stressed, and more effective teams. More »
Can a manufacturer use lean management to advance its environmental and social sustainability strategy?
By: Michael Ballé | December 30, 2019
Dear Gemba Coach: Can a manufacturer use lean to advance its environmental and social sustainability strategy? More »
Should I bother reading lean management books or rely on experience implementing lean?
By: Michael Ballé | June 24, 2019
Dear Gemba Coach: Should I bother with reading lean books, or just work from experience? There are so many, and they seem to contradict each other. Which ones should I start with? More »
How do I implement 5S when operators think everyone does things a little differently?
By: Michael Ballé | June 17, 2019
Dear Gemba Coach: How do I implement 5S in our small but growing shop where operators have the belief that everyone does things a little differently? More »
Go and See: Where The Magic Is
By: Nicolas Chartier | June 7, 2019
To reconnect with the reality of your business, go to the gemba, advises CEO Nicolas Chartier of Aramisauto. But to really experience the magic that happens, be sure to ask your people to display and visualize their flow, and you will discover unexpected opportunities for growth. More »
As head of a lean office, what must I do to really walk the talk?
By: Michael Ballé | May 13, 2019
Dear Gemba Coach: I am the head of a lean office. I’d like to lead by example, but it occurs to me that we often make the very same mistakes we coach others not to do. What must I watch out for in order to really walk the talk? More »
What's different about implementing lean in a low-volume, high-variety environment?
By: Michael Ballé | April 8, 2019
Dear Gemba Coach: I manage a plant that makes highly engineered, low-volume products. What do I have to do differently from the high-volume guys to implement lean management concepts? More »
Ask Art: Why Should I Be Able to Make Every Product Every Day?
By: Art Byrne | July 17, 2018
Working on the goal of "every product every day" helps all companies realize the benefits of lean as a strategy, says Art Byrne, by developing flexibility and responsiveness that ultimately delivers far more value to the customer. More »
As a business unit manager who is new to lean, what is the one thing I must know to get it right?
By: Michael Balle | July 2, 2018
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m a business unit manager new to lean, and our CEO has decided to embark us on a lean transformation program. What is the one thing I need to know to get it right? More »
The Battle for the Soul of Lean
By: Michael Ballé | March 16, 2018
When elements of lean management began to infiltrate management ranks decades ago, a “great divide” quickly formed, according to author and lean practitioner Michael Ballé. Some managers looked at it as a radically different, disruptive, but complete business system. Others saw it as a set of tools for operational excellence. The gulf endures and determines what results you get. More »
I read everywhere that in lean we should focus on process over results – does that mean we ignore budgets?
By: Michael Balle | March 12, 2018
Dear Gemba Coach: I read everywhere that in lean we should focus on process over results – does that mean that we need to ignore budgets altogether? More »
Any advice for someone (me) in sales who fails to see how lean can help?
By: Balle, Michael | February 26, 2018
Dear Gemba Coach: Our company has a long history of lean in manufacturing, but I work in the sales department. We have our own sales improvement method, and I fail to see how lean could help, but I’m under pressure to comply and participate in the lean program. Any advice? More »
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