About a month ago I came across a great concept called the Personal Kanban that I wanted to share. Taiichi Ohno created the first kanban to communicate with workers how much work needed to get done and how much got done. Kanban is a Japanese term meaning "sign" or "signboard". A kanban does three main things:
1. Shows us the work we have in progress
2. Shows us all the work we haven't gotten to yet
3. Shows us how efficiently we work
Personal Kanban is a personal productivity tool based on these principles to create a simple way to visualize and control your work. There are only two real rules with Personal Kanban:
1. Visualize your work
2. Limit your work-in-progress
Personal Kanban is the idea of Jim Benson, owner of Modus Cooperandi, a consultancy that helps businesses achieve business goals through collaborative means. Jim also blogs at Evolving Web on Lean, Agile Management, and Social Media principles.
Limiting your work in progress is important since the human brain simply does not respond well to the stress of juggling multiple priorities.
We feel like if we have “free time” we have “capacity” and therefore can fit more work in. We are not unlike a freeway.
A freeway can operate from 0 to 100 percent capacity. But when a freeway’s capacity gets over about 65%, it starts to slow down. When it reaches 100% capacity – it stops.
So capacity is a horrible measure of throughput. Multitasking is a horrible way to manage your synapses. If your brain is a highway and you are filling yourself with work, after a time you start to slow down.
Your rush hour gets longer and longer. You find yourself struggling to get out simple tasks.
Simply because you think you can handle more work-in-progress does not make it so.
You can build your first Personal Kanban in 4 simple steps.
1) Establish Your Value StreamThe flow of work from the moment you start to when it is finished. The most simple value stream possible is Backlog (work waiting to be done), Doing (work being done), and Done (yes, that's right, work that's done).
2) Two: Establish Your BacklogAll that stuff you need to do that you haven't done – that's your backlog. Everything you need to do, start writing it down onto Post-its. Big tasks, small tasks, get them all down.
3) Establish Your WIP Limit
The amount of work you can handle at one time. Part of what makes kanban work is finding the sweet spot, where we are doing the optimal amount of work at the optimal speed.
4) Begin to PullBegin working – pull completed work from one stage of the value stream and into the next.
There is a short presentation to help you get started.
Personal Kanban is easily adaptable and scalable to fit anyone's needs. There a number of great examples and tools on the website to support you on future improvements to your Personal Kanban. For those iPhone users there is even an app for Personal Kanban called iKan.
In the next few weeks I hope to transform my previous Visual Task Board to a Personal Kanban of my own. I would like to hear if anyone has experience with a Personal Kanban they would like to share.
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