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My Continuous Improvement: Personal Kanban

As I look for ways to improve, I am inspired by other lean thinkers and bloggers.  I see what they are trying and look to how that might work for me.  I try and experiment with things in order to make my job easier and to feel more in control and organized.

I decided to start a series that will be based on what I have tried in order to make my work better.  It may be small or large things and most likely it was an inspiration I got from someone else.  I hope that by passing along what I have learned that it may inspire others the way others have inspired me.

About seven months ago I read Tim McMahon’s blog post about the benefits of his personal kanban.  I decided that this was something I was going to try.

I decided this was something I was going to try to improve my work.  I spent a few months deciding how I was going to go about this before jumping in and trying it.  Finally, I did give it a try.  I wish I had better news, but my first and second iterations were not very successful.

I tried using note cards and a bulletin board to move the work.  I chose my value stream to be WIP Queue, In-Process, and Completed.  I color coded the tasks by which customer I was serving since my role is internal consultant.

I found I was re-prioritizing the work on a constant basis, mainly because my customers were re-prioritizing their work.  Plus, like Tim I don’t sit still.  I am out in the manufacturing plants or in different parts of the main building all the time so I don’t get to see the bulletin board as much.  I really liked my digital task list that syncs with my Blackberry.  Having the tasks mobile was very helpful.

I was also having trouble squeezing time in to complete these tasks, but I started blocking time off on my calendar to work on some tasks.

In the end, the experiment was a failure.  But, I did learn what worked and what didn’t and why.  I still want to improve my work flow so further reflection and study is necessary.  With Tim’s recent post about how and why he digitized his personal kanban, I was exposed to digital tools that I did not know existed.  I will now take the time to look at some of the tools Tim presented and conduct some research of my own to figure out the best way to incorporate the right tools to help with my process.  Find the tools to fit the process, don’t fit the process to the tools.

Not all improvements work out and I think it is to highlight those and talk about those as much as the ones that did work.  Happy improving!