Thursday, February 05, 2009

Make mine sausage with extra cheese

My colleague April came up with an excellent illustration last week which I'd like to share.

While training some new associates on the use of kanban cards, she discovered some misunderstandings. Some felt that they needed to take the card, walk over to the supply crib, get the supplies and walk back to their workplace. They didn't grasp the use of the kanban post and the role of the water spider to come by at prescribed times, take the cards and replenish the supplies.

"Think of it this way," April started in. "You're at home and want some pizza. You have two options, right? You can get in your car, go to the pizza place and bring it home. Or you can call the pizza place and have it delivered."

Everyone nodded, their mouths salivating slightly for some tomato paste on thin crust.

"Well, the kanban card is like the pizza delivery guy. You place the card in the post and that's the 'order' to be delivered later."

Lights came on. The kanban card is the order. That's all I need to do.

April then used the opportunity to show waste: "Further, you don't want to make all those trips to the pizza joint. That's just wasting time and gas." Everyone nodded.

"And, you know the best part of our 'delivery' via kanban?" She had some puzzled looks and she knew she had the audience. "You don't have to tip the driver!"

She made the point, and made it memorable, with a clear, simple example from everyday life.

Feel free to use it!! And don't forget the bread sticks!

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Evan J Miller said...

Great post with a great translation of Kanban.

This post and others like it are why I've listed your blog in my "Best of the Lean Blogosphere" at

Anonymous said...

The inspiration:

“Cheese is the soul of the soil. It is the purest and most romantic link between humans and the earth.” Pierre Androuet.

The challenge:

GK Chesterton: “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”


This book is a poetic view of 30 of the best loved French cheeses with an additional two odes to cheese. Recipes, wine pairing, three short stories and an educational section complete the book.

A unique and amusing Christmas present for all food lovers