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Jim Benson

Six Sigma

Book: Personal Kanban

Do the right things

Published: Friday, December 17, 2010 - 15:57

Following World War II, U.S. automakers focused on increasing productivity to meet a seemingly insatiable domestic demand. Meanwhile in Japan, faced with a decimated economy and limited resources, Toyota discovered their success hinged not on increasing productivity, but effectiveness. To this end, the nascent auto manufacturer launched a fairly radical campaign: to create a culture of continuous improvement, where the work force had clarity of purpose and the ability to affect change. This innovative way of thinking (later called “lean”) transformed this small island nation into a world-class producer of recognizably high-quality automobiles. Toyota’s reputation for excellence rested on destroying the myths of productivity and control, replacing them with effectiveness and flow.

The secret to their success can be the secret to yours.

Personal Kanban borrows from several lean principles and practices. With just two simple acts—visualizing work and limiting work in progress—personal kanban gives us clarity over our work and our goals, and the unprecedented ability to deal with distractions, manage expectations, make better decisions, and ultimately find a healthy balance between our professional, personal, and social lives.

It is a simple, elegant mechanism that helps us manage ourselves, but also lets us share our work, our goals, and our epiphanies with others. It is a visual launch pad to personal effectiveness, spontaneous collaboration, and an integrated life.

In our forthcoming book Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life, Tonianne DeMaria Barry and I discuss not only the mechanics of personal kanban but also how concepts such as the flow of work and systems of continuous improvement are easily incorporated into how we live.


About The Author

Jim Benson’s picture

Jim Benson

Jim Benson is the creator and co-author (with Tonianne DeMaria) of the best seller Personal Kanban (Modus Cooperandi Press, 2011) winner of the Shingo Research and Publication Award, 2013. His other books include Why Limit WIP (Modus Cooperandi, 2014), Why Plans Fail (Modus Cooperandi, 2014), and Beyond Agile (Modus Cooperandi Press, 2013). He is a winner of the Shingo Award for Excellence in Lean Thinking, and the Brickell Key Award. Benson and DeMaria teach online at Modus Institute and consult regularly, helping clients in all verticals create working systems. Benson regularly keynotes conferences, focusing on making work rewarding and humane.