Appoint a Project Leader to Guide the Team

Appoint a Project Leader to Guide the Team

When creating the team, appoint a project leader to oversee the project. This person will be responsible for:

  • Conducting the team meetings

  • Overseeing the deployment of the kanban

  • Making sure action plans are generated

The project leader should have the authority to make any final decisions if the team becomes deadlocked on an issue. Although project leaders should possess this authority, they should also possess sufficient facilitation skills to develop consensus and to guide team decisions rather than simply dictating decisions. Figure 2-3 shows pictorially the roles of the project leader.

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  • Conducts the team meetings

  • Coordinates team logistics

  • Ensures meeting minutes are taken and published

  • Manages deployment of the kanban design

  • Ensures proper management of project budget

  • Resolves any team conflicts

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Figure 2-3: Role of the Project Leader.

When selecting the team leader, pick a stakeholder in the kanban ”someone directly affected by the success of the kanban. Ideal candidates might be production manager/supervisors, materials managers, or warehouse managers. Also consider their ability to lead and communicate information, since kanban is dependent upon the transfer of information.

Set Up Team Rules and Develop Group Process

Once you have the team and the teamleader selected, then take the time to make them a team. Make sure they understand their charter, the timeline, and the expectations. Also, make sure the group understands the level (and limits) of their authority. Finally, the team should know whether any special conditions exist that might impact their final design, such as model changes, equipment moves, desire to not move equipment, or capacity issues.

The team should take the time to make introductions , to develop team rules, and to assign team roles. Some of the team rules might include:

  • Courtesy to each other when speaking

  • Everyone gets a chance to be heard

  • No personal attacks

  • The decision-making process

  • Meeting rules (e.g., no late arrivals, attend or send substitute, agenda twenty-four hours in advance)

  • Regularly scheduled meeting dates and times

  • Regular meeting location

Create a list of the rules that apply to your organization or incorporate your own existing organizational rules that describe how the team will conduct their business and achieve their chartered outcome. The initial meeting should be led by the project leader, and the results should be documented for all to see.

In conjunction with the development of the team's operating rules, the team should also assign roles to facilitate the operation of the team. Some of the roles to consider include: note taker (or scribe), meeting arranger, and budget manager. The project leader should not play Mr. Nice Guy with the assignments, taking on all the team roles if no one volunteers. At a minimum, rotate the roles between group members to make it equitable.

Develop a Plan for Implementing the Kanban

Once you have selected the team and completed the essential elements for forming a team, it's time to make a plan. The team should develop a timeline and a budget for implementation.

Develop a Timeline

The timeline should include the time required for design and for implementation. The team should also consider the time required for creation of visual management items and fabrication/installation of any fixtures. Also, don't forget to include time for coordinating the plan and for training.

Team members should use their experience from prior projects to set the schedule. Don't let the team get hung up on the fact that they have never implemented a kanban system. Finally, the team needs to set a firm implementation date so that everyone can plan toward this date. Do not let this date float or you will never get the kanban started. Remember, if the start date becomes infeasible, change it.

We recommend shooting for one month as the implementation timeframe. One month allows:

  • A week to form the team

  • A week for group training and design

  • Two weeks for implementation and operator training

If you extend beyond this timeframe without a concrete reason, kanban is likely to move to the back burner and become overshadowed by other activities. Needing more than one month may also signal that the team expects the implementation to be overly complicated. Figure 2-4 shows the suggested timeline for implementation.

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Figure 2-4: Suggested Timeline for Implementation.

Set a Team Budget

Once the team has a timeline for activities, the team needs to establish a budget to cover the costs of signs and minor hardware needed for the kanban. The project should make someone responsible for tracking the budget and the team should discuss the budget at each team meeting.

Establishing a budget empowers the team and gives them responsibility for implementation. Consider the budget as removing a potential roadblock to inaction.

To establish the budget amount, you can either let the team develop a detailed estimate to arrive at the amount, or the budget can be allocated as part of team chartering. Regardless of how the number is arrived at, the team must understand they are responsible for spending the money wisely and appropriately. They must understand that they cannot spend the allocated amount arbitrarily but that all purchases must be related to the implementation of the kanban.

If the team determines that they need something that exceeds their budget, then make them justify this expense like any other project. You should let the team know this groundrule up front. Also, let them know that the justification process will include identifying other options they considered and their backup plans.