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How Using Kanban in Business Improves Organizational & Strategic Thinking

With Northern Ireland aiming to lead the way as a European center for business, it behooves leaders from startups to the largest corporations to improve their level of organization. Being able to think through ideas to formulate effective strategies that will take their businesses forward powerfully is important to decisively drive growth. That’s the strength of Kanban.

It Starts at the Top

Developing goals and executing strategies for the business often begins with the CEO and then moves down through the organizational structure. One of the biggest problems for companies is effectively communicating the mission and goals of the organization.

Many times, a mission statement is written and then largely ignored. However, for companies that are focused on staying maximally organized to push through significant growth rates via efficient operations to increase their ROI, strategy matters. Without it, companies roll along rudderless which ultimately means they’re likely to run aground.

Kanban 101

Kanban is an organizational system that uses cards for tasks and boards to organize stages of work. Typically, a single card is used for one task. One or more people may be assigned to that card which indicates who is responsible for the task’s completion. Due dates and other notations may be included with the task too.

When you learn Kanban, you’ll discover through kanban articles that software packages provide a way to add images, video clips and other attachments to a card to help group together resources about the individual task.

Each Kanban board usually represents a stage of work. A simple layout may be: To Do, Doing, and Done. Each card will sit on one of these three boards representing all the individual tasks. Some will be awaiting work, a few will be a work in progress, and others, already completed.

Level of Customization with Kanban Boards

Kanbanize offer software to make it easier to manage multiple boards wherever you are. A collection of kanban boards doesn’t need to just be ‘To Do, Doing and Done’ either. There can be more boards which can be labeled however you see fit. Their ‘drag and drop’ feature seamlessly lets users move cards from one board to another.

In most cases, the boards are used to track progress across a group of tasks. However, anyone is free to use the Kanban system in a way that helps them stay optimally organized without judgement. Typically, a board is set up for a team on a group project, or for a manager or a CEO. Handling the collective responsibilities and assigning them using solid task management principals becomes easier with this system.

You can learn Kanban with these resources if you want to create a custom Kanban board setup to suit your organizational requirements.

Thinking Big Picture

For CEOs, they usually fail when they have great ideas but don’t manage to implement them successfully throughout the organization. They must decide on the broad mandate for what needs to get done, decide on a course of action, and break this down into individual responsibilities for each manager.

Depending on the type of business and level of experience of each manager, the CEO may or may not provide guidance for how each aspect of the broader strategy is to be handled. For instance, a planned streamlining of the product range from 250 SKUs to 150 SKUs will require buy-in from multiple departments. While the CEO may offer guidance about how to go about whittling down the number of products to a more manageable amount, he or she is unlikely to specify which products to remove.

Portfolio Kanban vs Team Kanban

CEOs can use both Portfolio Kanban and Team Kanban within their organization. Think of Portfolio Kanban as a hierarchical structure with Team Kanban being for departments or teams to work on individual tasks.

For instance, the CEO is going to have a Portfolio Kanban set up where they include strategic priorities for the business. These, in turn, will fall to individual department managers (sometimes several per priority) who each have a Portfolio Kanban of their own. The individual managers will also have a Team Kanban board that covers what tasks their team is responsible for.

The reason for the separation between Portfolio Kanban and Team Kanban is simple enough. At the Portfolio level, the CEO and other managers need to see the big picture position about different parts of the business or responsibilities under their management.

The CEO doesn’t need or wish to view the individual tasks being completed by an ordering clerk in the purchasing department. What they’re looking to do is push through initiatives to make purchasing more efficient and reduce wasted time; not get involved with the minutia of the ordering process with tasks related to it.

When businesses are well organized, CEOs can keep centered on their strategic initiatives, what action is required, the managers who have been assigned responsibility for initiatives, and the milestones to achieve. The tasks are completed at the Team Kanban level, but managed at the Portfolio Kanban level. This keeps the organization moving forward in the right direction based on the CEO’s strategic objectives.