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!
Click here to subscribe to Learning about Lean by email.