I recently learned about kanban here and followed some of the links and read some of the recommended sites and PDFs.
It looks interesting, but one thing keeps confusing me.
In its original sense, the kanban method is about signaling production needs as part of a complex manufacturing process, with the basic goal being to optimize production by using "pull" signals rather than push. A big focus is on keeping inventory levels from ballooning when they needn't.
The current project-management sense seems to be about using a board with limited slots in each position (for example: to-do, on dev, on qa, release). These slots fill the limiting function of the kanban cards in the manufacturing process (while the cards in the slots are sort of like the manufactured product).
To my limited understanding, the latter seems to be basically using the former as a poorly-aligned analogy; the similarities are that both have just-in-time as a goal and both focus on limiting work (but in a very different way).
Am I missing something that ties the two together, or is it fair to say that the kanban project management methodology is named after the lean manufacturing concept but is not really the same thing?