Kanban Lean Six Sigma Consulting


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The modern corporate is full of multi-tasking professionals and multi-dimensional departments. Whether it is a lean manufacturing unit or a lean organization, tasks need to be handled, assigned, and completed in due time without sacrificing quality standards. While this might seem easy to manage, there are a lot of executives who would disagree.

Task & Resource Management remains one of the primary areas of optimization for organizations across the world. One of such optimization & management techniques for tasks and operations is the use of Kanban.

What is Kanban Lean Six Sigma?

Kanban has quickly risen in popularity to be the go-to method for managing tasks in Lean workplaces. Kanban is a Lean and JIT tool to control the flow of materials or information through various stages. It was developed by Taichi Ohno in Toyota to streamline its operations.

Kanban started out as means to achieve Just in Time Manufacturing. Just-in-time (JIT) as a concept ensures that you have the required materials to meet demand, but not so much that you need to stockpile. This cuts down on warehousing and spoilage costs.

However, the beauty of Kanban & JIT is that it can be utilized at all levels, from individuals to small teams and even entire companies and across industries including IT. An important distinction must be established that Kanban is a JIT scheduling tool and not an inventory management tool. You can use a Kanban board to track processes and time inventory/information movement accordingly.

Kanban Lean Six Sigma Consulting

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The Principles of Kanban Lean Six Sigma

The Kanban methodology has well-defined principles for application across organizations. Principles include:

Existing Workflow Mapping: Map out your team’s current workflow and use that to create your Kanban board.

Progressive Changes: Kanban encourages making small changes regularly instead of instant overhauls.

Change as Required: Only modify areas of your current processes, roles, and responsibilities if required. They exist for a reason.

Encourage Leadership: Everyone in the team must take responsibility for identifying issues and coming up with solutions to improve processes. Not just the team leader or the senior management.

Kanban Lean Six Sigma Practices

There are general practice areas in implementing Kanban. These practices ensure that your implementation is solid and efficient.

Visualize: Use a Kanban board to visualize your current typical workflow. Remember this flow should reflect reality.

Prevent Overloading: Ensure you do not have too many tasks in progress or they are moving between columns efficiently.
Flow Management: You will typically stumble across process bottlenecks or obstacles. It is best to evaluate and address them critically to understand what can be done to improve flow efficiency.

Explicit Definitions: Everyone in the team must understand what’s needed to move a task from one stage to another. A good definition to start with is what constitutes a completed task.

Feedback: Ensure there’s a constant feedback loop in place. One that covers all bases.

Collaborative Improvement: An important part of Kanban in lean six sigma includes continuous improvements. Teams must collaborate to ensure that they work together to improve workflow efficiencies.

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6 Rules of Kanban Lean Six Sigma

In order to comprehensively incorporate Kanban in the workplace, Toyota has created six rules for an effective Kanban system:

  • Customer (downstream) processes withdraw items in the precise amounts specified by the Kanban.
  • Supplier (upstream) produces items in the precise amounts and sequences specified by the Kanban.
  • No items are made or moved without a Kanban.
  • A Kanban should accompany each item, every time.
  • Defects and incorrect amounts are never sent to the next downstream process.
  • The number of Kanbans is reduced carefully to lower inventories and to reveal problems.

Implementing Kanban Lean Six Sigma

Kanban offers a quick, visual impression of how a sprint or project is progressing. That’s why the ‘don’t send a task backward rule is usually so strict. After all, it messes up that visual impression of progress. However, implementing Kanban extends greatly beyond simply a visual mapping of progress and status.

Kanban is a complex process in itself which greatly varies from industry to industry as well as with the size of the organization. Kanban’s application in lean six sigma remains to be a well-accepted integration. For this very reason, Kanban consulting companies work diligently to craft implementation plans for organizations. However, if you are in the market for a Kanban consulting company, ensure that you choose one that staffs accredited Kanban consultants just like how we do at Arrowhead Consulting. At the end of the day, if you are giving the reins of revolutionizing your processes to someone, they should be well-qualified to do so. Kanban isn’t just a methodology applied well but a state of mind installed across organizational cultures and teams.



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