I’ve tried this a few times, but I think this time, with the help of the kids and my sweet wife, we’ve got it right for our family. Here’s our Family Kanban Board – our family job chart (not Kanban for Creative of Knowledge Work).
We have a big family – we’ve adopted a bunch and we’re very thankful for our chance to be parents. We’ve got great kids.
But, because we have a big family, things get messy, busy, and we need everybody’s help to make this household run smoothly.
When something needs to get done, it’s either done through talking, then eventually yelling (not really), but that isn’t good for parents or for children. A core value we want to live is respect for the children.
Root Cause: since nobody really knows their job, or when to do it, it leads to confusion, argument, and lack of direction.
Our family needs something that is visible, without equivocation, and shows the Person, Jobs, Day, and Status. So, we created a Kanban Family Job Chart:
Simply put, a Kanban is a sign or a card with instructions of what to, when, and how much. At Toyota, Kanban cards are very low-tech: they literally are cards with laminate on them and instructions for material release or work instructions.
If you ever get to visit a Toyota facility, you will see clothes lines connecting processes to each other. The clothes line is used to pass Kanban cards. For example, if a downstream process needs more material, that process can pass a Kanban Material Release card to the upstream process via the clothes line concept. Low-tech, but it works.
Kanban Family Job Chart
Our Kanban Family Job Chart has several elements that are important to discuss.
It is important to recognize the people on your team, by name and by face. This makes things Human and, we all know, that a pillar in the Toyota Production System is Respect for People. Even more so in a family.
Jobs or Tasks (What)
The element of jobs and tasks are next. For us, it was best to create various jobs on magnets, giving us the flexibility of moving jobs around as needed and when needed.
Day of Week and Status (When)
Knowing when a job is done is critical for everyone in the family. Because the impetus is on the person to indicate when something was done, it eliminates the micro-managing that often happens in families, work, and in every organization. For a family, this eliminates nagging. When a job is done, simply move the magnet from Red to Green.
A Few Concepts at Play
Agile, Scrum, and many other folks are now using the concept of the Kanban in their respective worlds. This is good. What is important is practice over theory, as Taiichi Ohno said many years ago.
- Visual Management provides instruction
- Visual Management conveys information
- Visual Management provides immediate feedback
- Visual Management quickly exposes abnormalities in a process or work area
- Visual Management quickly conveys progress or lack thereof
Respect for People:
The Kanban Job Chart conveys information and instructions so that Mom and Dad don’t have to. When Mom or Dad have to convey the information, it usually ends-up as nagging. That approach is irritating, disrespectful, and polarizes people. We want, instead, to teach self-reliance, demonstrate our trust in the kids, and help them grow in their own terms, but with our loving guidance.
We also have to make sure that the job is equal to the capability of the child – their mental capacity, hand size, strength, etc.
I Work Too:
Yes, while my face is not on the Job Chart, I have jobs – believe me – I have a lot of jobs.