Visualizing Workflow & Productivity with Kanban Boards

Synthia Stark
3 min readAug 9, 2020

As defined by Altassian, Conceptboard, and Planview, Kanban is an agile software framework that requires communication between parties and teams, whereas an actual Kanban board is a workflow visualization tool.

Actual Kanban boards might require sticky notes placed under a series of columns drawn on a whiteboard to communicate updated tasks, current issues, and ongoing progress of various work projects.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash — That might be a Kanban board.

Historically, the Kanban technique arose in the last 1940s when Toyota wanted to re-imagine manufacturing and engineering approaches. Assembly line workers had coloured cards, called Kanbans, to notify other assembly workers downstream. Through the just-in-time production control system, more value was made to customers without incurring additional inventory costs or sacrificing productivity.

Kanban Board Examples

The first example is from Digite, which shows a very simplified Kanban board, purposed into three columns.

Photo by Digite to show a simplified Kanban board.

The second example, from Kanbanize, is a slightly simplified Kanban board.

Photo by Kanbanize to illustrate a somewhat simplified Kanban board.

The third example is from Conceptboard, which uses a matrix instead.

Photo by ConceptBoard to illustrate a Kanban board matrix.

Depending on the state, magnitude, and urgency associated to ongoing work projects, you might want to repurpose or customize your Kanban board to whichever method works best for you.

The Pros of Kanban Boards

  • Visualizing workflow through physical mapping and coloured cards
  • Limits the number of items that show up as a “work in progress”
  • Reduces maladaptive multi-tasking
  • Fosters incremental change to current workflow processes
  • Simplifies workflow…



Synthia Stark

Canadian Therapist & Former Researcher | 5x Top Writer | Writing about mental health, psychology, science, etc.