Have you heard about kanban? This workflow management tool is widely used in manufacturing, software development and business. Designed to keep processes flowing smoothly, it can work as well in a kitchen as it does in a boardroom. Think of it as a to-do-list that never gets overwhelming and keeps everyone accountable.
What is kanban?
Basically, the process involves a large whiteboard or pin board that is divided into columns, each with a step in a process. Post-it notes for individual tasks and people are moved from column to column, left to right, as they are completed. The kanban concept was first used by the Japanese (it translates to card or billboard) in car manufacturing, and revolutionized the speed and efficiency of production lines.
Translated into everyday life, it moves parts of a project from one person to another or one phase to the next. One phase can’t be started until the last one is completed. A real kanban board is divided into five columns: Story (or goal or problem), To Do, In Process, Verify (or test) and Done.
There’s a kanban for that!
The boards are easily adaptable to much simpler scenarios. Because each person or team is responsible for completing a task, the process quickly identifies who is progressing and who is slacking. It allows everyone, especially children, to clearly see what everyone else is doing and how each step is progressing.
1. Make vacation planning easy
If you’re planning some family travel, you have tickets to buy, rooms to book, activities to choose, clothes to buy and packing to finish. Create columns for each phase of the trip. Put a family member’s name on a sticky note and one or two responsibilities. Every day or week, move the stickies across the chart as tasks are completed. Older kids love this because it can be competitive and procrastinators see how they are holding up the others.
2. Financial goal-setting
Whether it’s saving for a car, getting out of debt or building a retirement fund, using the flowchart process breaks a daunting goal down into easily digestible steps. Those steps can be money saved at the grocery store each week, with coupons attached to the pin board or magnets. You can put aside a set amount from your biweekly paycheck, pay off a credit card, or avoid extraneous expenses.
3. Kanban for school projects
A flowchart is very useful for juggling multiple school projects and homework assignments. It creates a helpful visual aid to a big task requiring multiple steps and deadlines. When one step is done, it’s easy to see what’s next.
4. Make chores fun
A long checklist of chores can be overwhelming for kids. On a board with movable sticky notes, pins or magnets, progress is easier to see. List weekly chore categories across the tops of columns. It could be organized by a part of the house: “Bedroom,” “Playroom,” “Backyard;” or by activity: “Homework,” “Books Read,” “Pet Care,” etc. Put each family member’s name on horizontal axes.
A great motivator: tie in completion of the chores with an allowance or treat.
5. Cooking with kanban
You have a big holiday meal coming up, or plan a big batch of baking. A visual flowchart can help you buy and plan ingredients, assign tasks to multiple family members, and even to help cook multiple dishes in one kitchen. It makes the assembly line aspect to cooking more palatable.
Plan it, see it, get it done
Visual flowcharts can also be used for planning weddings, moving house, or even personal goal-setting. They can be created with a simple whiteboard, a pin board, or a sharable app like Kanbachi. However you want to use it, this abstract business concept equates to simpler planning on the home front.