Kanban Speak – A glossary of Lean and Kanban Terms

Kanban Speak – A glossary of Lean and Kanban Terms

While working on a paper for an audience new to lean, kanban and flow, I created a glossary of terms (listed alphabetically) for people to reference. 

 

Term Definition
A3 The context, goals, analysis and proposed countermeasures of a problem made visible on a single sheet of A3 sized paper (11 x 17in.
Constraint A bottleneck in the system. Something preventing forward movement.
Cycle Time The elapsed time it takes to complete a request from the time the work began to the time the work completed.
Kanban Japanese word for visual signal. Used here to refer to a visual management pull system for knowledge work.
Lead Time The elapsed time it takes to complete a request from the time it was first requested.
Lean A Socratic philosophy used to improve.
Systems Thinking A holistic view of the system where the goal is to optimize the whole system versus just individual functions or silos.
System A network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish a goal. A system includes the people doing the work and the impacting rules and tools.
Pull System When new work is pulled into the system based on available capacity to handle it, rather than work being pushed into the system.
Queue A pileup of work waiting to get worked on. Work that’s in a wait state.
Value Stream The activities done from beginning to end for a specific product or service in order to provide business value.
Work State The state that the work is in. Work flows through different states on its way to completion. The work states show us where the work is in the pipeline.
Workflow The flow of work through the pipeline (or system) from beginning to end.
Work Item Anything being worked on. Work that encompasses effort – both large and small.
Work-In-Progress Work-in-progress (WIP) equals all the work started but not yet finished.

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