How the Kanban technique saved my bacon

I hate being late. If a friend invites me to dinner, I’m there at least ten minutes early. If I’m due to meet a client, I’m sat in the car park a good hour before I’m supposed to arrive. But when it comes to work, I’ve started taking this drive for efficiency to a whole new level.

In the last twelve months, I have never, ever delivered a project or piece of work later than requested. That may sound rather self-congratulatory but it isn’t — it’s just a result of me being productive and finding what I believe to be the best way to keep my day on track.

The Kanban technique was invented by car giant Toyota. They spotted that supermarkets had an ingenious way of restocking when goods neared sell-out. It involved staff only putting stuff back on the shelves when there was sufficient customer demand, meaning that stock levels were only ever driven by the amount they expected to sell. That resulted in less waste and never having to contend with disatisfied shoppers.

This ‘just-in-time’ delivery format was adopted by Toyota and used to drive efficiency in their manufacturing process. Given the name ‘Kanban’, or ‘看板’, it simply means ‘signboard’ and, rather than delve into a lengthy explanation of what it looks like in practice, here is an example of a Kanban board in the wonderful Trello app:

The above example is blindingly simple, but illustrates everything that is great about Kanban. At any time, you can see what needs to be done, what’s under way and the stuff that has been completed. To-do items simply make their way down the various lists until they reach their final destination.

I use Kanban for every element of my business, whether it be blogging, invoicing or performing changes to my website. And it works brilliantly, because Kanban boards can be made to suit any application.

With Kanban, I’m never late. Try it for yourself — I guarantee you’ll never let anyone down ever again.

Image credit

Like what you read? Give Mark Ellis a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.