I often find the answer to this question misunderstood. Often people see Kanban as just the “board”, but there is a lot more to it than that. When answering the why would someone want to use Kanban, I often point to the Kanban Agendas. The three agendas each answer problems that many organisations experience and they each feed into and support each other to allow a more fit for purpose organisation to emerge.
I often find teams that are struggling with too much work to do. There always seems to be an endless “To-do” list and teams can hardly keep their heads above water with all the incoming demand. Some teams that I’ve started working with are working nights and weekends just to try and get everything done. It’s really not a long-term strategy because it kills morale and people leave – which leads to more strain on those who are left. Using Kanban, you can start to limit the work in your system to allow teams to focus on what’s important. You can also start to shape demand so that you can get control of that monstrous “To-do” list.
Service (Customer) Orientation
Once your team get some space to breathe, often you want to the focus on what’s important to your customers. It’s now time to start to evolve your system to better service their needs. You may have different customers with different needs and trying to service all of the competing needs can be difficult. With Kanban, you can start to modify your system to suit not just one type of customer need but being able to serve multiple concurrently. It can help you deal with the seeming different demand and help solve the varying problems your customers have.
Now that you’re able to keep your team to a sustainable pace and serve your current customers, it’s time to look to the future. What are the changes in the market that are occurring? How do you get ahead of the curve? What strategies are you going to employ to get there and how do you balance that with current customer needs? These kinds of questions are all very important to be able to answer to ensure that in the long term your business not only survives but thrives. Kanban can help here as well, helping to form the new strategy, alignment throughout your organisation and then through execution with the required feedback to make sure you keep on track and adapt to changing conditions.
Getting to this point isn’t an overnight change. You will need to make many small adjustments to the way that you’re working to get to this point. Essentially, this is evolutionary, but you can start now to make things better for your teams, your customers and your organisation.