Kanban Dancing - Why Do We Need Takt TIme in Kanban and Lean

Can you imagine music without rhythm? Would you like it? Would you watch people dancing if they were randomly jumping and throwing limbs in all directions without any reasonable order?

I guess not. Is it good if your heart skips a beat (if you are seeing your crush it is okay)? Does earth always take the same time to orbit the sun? The goal of these ridiculous questions is to make a point: everything in our universe has its rhythm.

In Lean, rhythm is defined as Takt Time. Takt Time represents the “rate of customer demand” or in other words, how frequently can the customer accept our product. For example, if a restaurant uses 100 kilos of cheese per week, we need to deliver with a Takt Time of 1 week and batch size being 100 kg.

Why Do We Need Takt Time at All and How Does it Help?

1) Predictability

I’m not sure for you guys, but I don’t trust companies that need ages to deliver new products. I just don’t feel comfortable being in the dark regarding what’s being created for a long long time and besides, I am often disappointed with the end result. I bet most of you lean heroes share my opinion and here is a brief explanation why.

The larger our Takt Time is, the less frequently we release. The less frequently we release, the greater the chances of missing our deadlines, thus the less predictable we are. The less predictable a company is the less trust from customers, shareholders or investors. The less trust from everyone, the less money we make. You got the picture.

Lesson #1: A well established Takt Time allows us to be more predictable and by that be more profitable.

2) Batch size

Whether you succeed becoming predictable is a function of how much you want to deliver with each Takt. The bigger the chunk you want to deliver, the greater the chances of failing are. In other words, the greater the batch size (how much we deliver), the more risk we take and quite often the slower we are. This is how we get to our second lesson:

Lesson #2: Reduce the amount of changes you want to deliver with each Takt to the absolute minimum that makes sense.

3) Establishment of flow

As a direct consequence of lessons one and two, we get the amazing benefit of improved flow through our system. The better flow through our system, the faster our customers receive goods and therefore the more satisfied they are. On top of all that, we could level our production so that we satisfy the varying demand with no or relatively small delays.

Lesson #3: To improve your flow, decrease the batch size of your deliveries and establish a well-known takt time.

4) Synchronization

This is probably the greatest benefit of having a well-defined Takt Time in huge corporations. When we have too many people and departments, it may be quite challenging to synchronize everyone to deliver a concrete set of features at a particular moment in time.

Very often management creates significant overhead for their teams just because they want to show something to potential customers at this super important expo that the company funds.

If that sounds familiar, think about establishing your Takt to match the occurrences of the expo. If you do that, everyone will know that every X months/weeks/days you need to do A, B, or C. It really really helps!

Lesson #4: Establishing a Takt Time helps big companies do synchronized releases and by that reduce the overhead significantly.

I hope that you enjoyed the article and that you will make your companies dance!

Happy Kanbanizing!

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