Serving as a Coach and Mentor

Serving as a Coach and Mentor

The last thing to remember as you roll out the training is that your role is to be a coach and a mentor. For many people, implementing kanban is a big step. Many operators have become dependent on the daily or weekly schedule. For many of them it is the first time they have had to make decisions on a consistent basis at work. (Don't be surprised if more than one person asks who's going to put out the schedule.) On the flip side, many production managers and supervisors are used to calling all the shots. So when we transfer control of the line to the production operators, we have made a big culture change for the entire organization.

Therefore, you must coach and mentor all levels of the organization. Be sensitive to their concerns and fears. Also, like any good coach, don't be afraid to be tough if the need arises.

Remember the bottom line on the coaching and mentoringif you want them to own the process, then you'd better prepare them to take ownership.

Using the Workbook

The CD-ROM Workbook sheets are designed to identify who needs to be trained and to help you create an outline for the proposed training. Follow the training outline form to create focused training, which allows the operators to take ownership of the production schedule. Additionally, the Workbook includes the PowerPoint slides presented in this chapter for you to use as a starting point.


Training is one of the last steps before startup of the kanban. The goal of your training program should be to provide everyone who must operate or support the kanban the information and tools necessary to successfully operate the kanban. To achieve this goal, use the memory jogger in Chapter 5 (Figure 5-23) and decide what type of training each associate needs. Keep the training focused on the operation of the kanban. Keep the theory parts of the training brief and relevant. We suggest following this outline to achieve the best results:

  • Kanban basics

  • How kanban will work

    What is the signal?

    How will the material move?

    Review of the rules

  • What are the scheduling decisions and rules for making the decisions

    Use example of different schedule conditions to teach how and what decisions to make

  • Discuss when to call for help and what to do specifically when encountering a red signal

  • Conduct a dry run

Finally, don't forget your role as a coach and mentor. If you want the operators to take ownership of the kanban, then you need to give them the information and tools to do so!

Chapter 7: Initial Startup and Common Pitfalls


Well, here we are. We have formed a team, sized the kanban, developed a design, and developed training. So what's left? Are we ready to start up our kanban? (Well, almost!) Before we go live, we need to take care of several items to ensure a successful implementation. We need to:

  • Confirm the design is implemented

  • Confirm training is complete

  • Check the inventories

Once you have taken care of these items, you are ready to get on with the startup of the kanban. Therefore, our kanban process flow extends to include the startup and implementation step, as shown in Figure 7-1.

click to expand
Figure 7-1: Modified Kanban Process Flow.

After you have started the kanban, then you need to watch for common pitfalls that disrupt the operation of the kanban. Consider these pitfalls as growing pains of your adolescent scheduling process. Therefore, as you identify problems, correct the problem and remember your role as a coach and mentor.