In the late 1940s, Toyota re-imagined the approach to manufacturing and engineering, forever changing the automotive world.

This system is highly visual in nature, allowing teams to communicate more easily on work that needs to be done, and when. It standardizes cues and refines processes, and will help eliminate waste in an organization (while maximizing production).

How the Kanban System Works

The system is easy. First, we define workflow that is specific to our business. We then use a system of priority setting, to decide which pieces of work should be tackled first. Using a pull system, we pull work from a queue in a clear system so everyone can see what’s going on.

This system controls the release of work in a project, and more importantly, ensures that the most constrained resources are doing only the work that services the goal of the entire system, not just one component.

We have a board that generally has 5 or 6 different items.


The board has a column for each step of the workflow, and a row for each item of work. This allows us to see who is working on what, and when. Tasks are sorted in priority order.

Asana provides an excellent platform for team collaboration in the cloud, and we have customized the boards to display based on our flow:

  • Wishlist – new ideas, tasks, and “to-dos” are added to this column
  • Live Bugs –  live bugs and urgent tasks are pinned to this column
  • In Progress – when someone begins working on a task, they pull the task from either Wishlist/Live bugs and moves it to the In Progress column.
  • Waiting on Client – When a task is completed, it is submitted for approval. The project manager will check the task, then send it to the client. Upon approval from the client, the task is move to “completed.”
  • Completed – A list of completed tasks in the order they were completed.

As with Scrum and other project management systems, the “Wishlist” serves as a place to store good ideas that are brought up at the right time. These could be tasks that need to be followed up on in the future (“we need to have photography done before we can put new pictures on the website”) or tasks that are hopeful/maybes that need to go somewhere.