Kanban Board

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What is a Kanban Board?

According to Wikipedia, "a kanban board is one of the tools that can be used to implement kanban to manage work at a personal or organizational level".

What is Kanban? It means "visual sign" or "visual card" in Japanese. It is a lean method that manages work at a personal or organizational level originated by Toyota in the 1940s.

The purpose of Kanban was to create a transparent work process and help identify bottlenecks and overcommitments, thereby optimizing manufacturing efficiency. Kanban board as a project management tool has evolved from post-it notes on a whiteboard to digital board platforms to serve teams of all sizes in a variety of industries.

A typical Kanban Board have columns for various stages of a process e.g.: "to-do", "doing", and "done". Each column has cards to represent work items. Each card can be moved from left to right to indicate the progress.

How does a Kanban Board Work?

Every Kanban board has three basic elements: boards, columns, and cards.

  • Kanban baord: It is your project or workflow's homebase. It contains everything you need to get a project done.

  • Kanban column: It is the visual stack of a stage of a process. You may have only one stack that represent "doing" or a couple of stacks that further breaks down "doing". You can have as many columns as you want and rename them.

  • Kanban card: It represents a task or min-project that needs to be done within the scope of your project. Cards are moved along from left to right, from one status to another. You can add as many cards as you want to under each column or follow the Work In Progress limits. Once a card reaches the last stage of the process, you can either delete them or keep them there for future reference.

Why is it effective?

According to Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria, "Visualizing work allows us to transform workloads that feel vague and threatening into an actionable, context-sensitive flow. Limiting work-in-progress helps us complete what we start and understand the value of our choices. By setting a limit on cards in progress, weโ€™re able to avoid context-switching, focus and get things done one after another. Combined, these two simple acts encourage us to improve the way we work and the way we make choices to balance our personal, professional, and social lives."

Kanban board examples

Thanks to the flexibility of Kanban boards, the possibilities for how we use them are limitless.

How you can use personal Kanban?

You can use it to brainstorm ideas, organize to-dos, plan for family life, vacation, event, parties, you name it.

How you can use Kanban for work?

  • Editorial calendar: use Kanban to ensure you have a pipeline of content ready for publishing. You can also create a calendar view to visualize when your content is scheduled to publish.

  • Manage a sales pipeline: with columns like "Leads", "Contacted", "Contact later", "Won", and "Lost", you can easily glance where your focus should be and help you manage a steady deal flow.

  • Create and manage a product development roadmap: product manager can use Kanban to plan and prioritize features and developers can use it to track the development process.

  • Plan and track design requests: use a Kanban board to collectively sort and organize incoming design requests and get them done.

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