Thursday, February 1, 2018

Today's Lean Term: Kanban Post

As explained in a previous blog, in the Lean methodology, a "kanban" is a signal that something needs to be done. This is a Japanese word that gets translated to mean "signal" or "signpost" or the like.

For example, a patient file in a file holder on an exam room door is a kanban signal that a patient is ready to be seen in that room. Ideally, this "pulls" the doctor or appropriate staff member to the patient. A kanban might also be an empty, small plastic basket labeled “3cc Syringes-Exam 2” that's placed at a specified, marked location in the pharmacy that signals exam room 2 is running low on 3cc syringes and needs a refill.

A "kanban post" is the specific location that the kanban is placed so it can be seen (as an example of visual management) and acted upon. In the above examples, the file holder on the exam room door and the specific, marked location in pharmacy are the kanban posts for those objects.

My employer has developed a kanban and a kanban post for medical records he has made follow-up calls on. The signal is the medical file  tossed on the floor in the middle of his office.  This indicates to staff that the file is ready to be refilled in the filing cabinet (No, we have not gone paperless. What computers we do have are forever under my employer’s threat of him personally heaving said computers into the dumpster out back. But, I digress!). The post, therefore, is the floor in the middle of his office

However, the floor in the middle of his office is not specific, nor is it marked!  So, as a lean advocate (and/or just being a bit obsessive/compulsive), I decided to correct the situation...

Marked and specific

Much better!

That's one of the things I like about Lean. It is adaptable; not much is written in stone. The spirit of the methodology is the important part.

This kanban post will probably need to undergo some continued improvement. ;>)  Have a little fun today!

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