Excellent question! And I'm so so sorry that the kanban community have messed this up for you (and me). There's people that claim that they understand sentences like this:
"the purpose of kanban is to eliminate the kanban". To which I just say pheee-ew.
Here's my understanding of it (you can be sure that there will be people going against this too):
• The “Kanban” method (capital K)—refers to a method to create evolutionary change in your organization, formulated by David J. Anderson.
• “kanban” (lowercase k)—refers to the process management system that signals to its users that a need for more work exists. Applied to system development, it’s pretty much everything that we describe in this book
• “kanban system”—this is the system that is set up to track the work in process. An example of this might be a kanban board, the cards, and the policies around your work. All of that is your kanban system.
Hopefully this clarifies things for you. In short—this book talks about “kanban” and “kanban systems” for software development.
Hope this helps
Oh man! I'm not sure I can... but I'll give it a try.
Please note that we (kanban-istas) often uses that quote as a funny quote to point to the confusion around the word kanban.
here is how it should be interpreted, IMHO:
"the purpose of kanban" - the purpose of kanban systems, i.e. the board, cards, visualizations, WIP limits and everything that we set up to improve the flow of our process
"is to eliminate the kanban" - here i think that kanban means the actual card that represent a work item. In the industry (this quote is from a "Toyota person") the kanban card is what indicates work. And we want to have fewer kanbans around so that the work would flow faster and smoother through our process. "Eliminate" I read as a ideal state of very few (no?) kanban in our system, making the work flow extremely fast through the process.
My good friend Torbjörn Gyllebring (@drunkcod on Twitter) have a talk on it here: https://vimeo.com/64728165 He explains it better.
Hope this helps