If your business is overloaded with strategic actions and priorities, and you are frustrated with the pace of progress, maybe you need to try a different approach. We did and it is working.
Introducing our Kanban
We have been using Kanban to progress business projects for the last couple of months and it has been a revelation. It’s simple, focused, clear, and all staff are engaged in the process. Rather than building monster excel spreadsheets that detail actions and priorities broken down by strategic priority and by quarter, we are now focused on what we will do over the next two weeks.
Kanban originated in Toyota as part of their production system and more recently is being used in Lean Startups. OMT is nearly 25 years old! I highly recommend it for any business irrespective of industry sector or size. It helps you focus and really gets the right things moving.
To get started we transformed our boardroom, we painted one full wall so that it became a whiteboard. It was really simple. The outside of the whiteboard outlines our key strategic priorities. The Inside is our Kanban, this is the dynamic bit that changes every two weeks. The picture above is our actual Kanban wall.
The following is an internal memo that went out with the launch of the Kanban, it shows how we are using it internally.
Welcome to our KANBAN Board
Kanban board is one of the most popular tools for boosting productivity. It is typically used in manufacturing processes to reduce waste. We are going to use it to increase focus, accountability and engagement.
- We are going to meet as a full team every second Monday to review the board.
- Progress and plans will be shared in a short focused 30 minute meeting. No Sitting down!
- Each of us are responsible for actions that have been allocated to us – if you are not available to attend the meeting you are to update Noelle (our Kanban Manager).
- Noelle will take a photo of the board at the end of each meeting and send it out by email to all for follow up.
How it will work:
- Only actions that we have complete control over are to be included on the board.
- All sections around the Kanban board should drive actions.
- Planned: If you have an idea, discuss it in the Monday meeting and get it added to the planned column. At this stage the action is not allocated and will not have a due date.
- Allocated: An allocated action will come from the Planned column, at this point a person will be given responsibility and a due date will be agreed.
- In progress: the action is been worked on.
- Done: the action is complete.
Green: Sales related actions
Purple: Marketing and Product Development actions
Pink: Finance actions
Orange: Quality, Partner & Staff engagement actions
The Kanban has created a great buzz around the office, it has opened up communication and it ensures that we are all focused on the agreed priorities. But like any change process it will have its ups and downs, right now we are in the post launch honeymoon period – there is much still to do!