Visual management is an absolutely essential tool within the world of Lean and can be seen as the link between the data and the people. Visual management uses instinctive visual cues to make succinct, accurate information within a workplace available at all times to those who need to know it. This information is distilled down to its most basic form to give everything you need to know, and none of what you don’t!
Visual management is fundamentally all about communication. Effective visual management uses instinctive visual cues to communicate key information about a workplace ‘at a glance‘. Visual management is a way to communicate any and all information possible but you will most commonly find it as a way to display information about expectations, performance, standards and warnings. The key here is that through communicating this information visually, it requires no interpretation to understand. That means, regardless of whether I am familiar with the workplace, or not, I should be able to instantly see the current state of work, navigate my way around the area, or track how the team are performing versus target.
All visual management should give a clear message ‘at a glance‘, this means using visual management in such a way all the key information in that workplace is immediately understandable, and it is good practice to challenge all visual cues against this criteria!
As you can see from the image to the right, we call this our ‘Factory Overview’, this visual management board is the top line view of how key departments are tracking against their overall target – all this information is then distilled into the overall measure of ‘Factory Overview’ which shows senior management exactly the performance of the overall factory.
This measure tells people what actions need to be taken, and the effect that the actions that are being taken are having. It also highlights immediately any situation that occurs that will compromise the success of an operation, allowing it to be fixed in the minimum time.
It is absolutely vital for releasing the potential of Lean and has the power to drive performance and to engage and enthuse the whole team to better results. Additionally, it is the key to sustaining improvements … keeping the ‘continuous’ in Continuous Improvement!
Visual management is the ‘go-getter’ of Lean, the vital ingredient that brings all the effort and expenditure of initiating a Lean programme to a result.
It is the main factor in achieving Employee Engagement and has the power to create ownership of goals and an enthusiasm for progress that would otherwise be missing. It is non-confrontational, but carries a friendly authority, and embeds the culture of Continuous Improvement in every corner of the company.
Visual management also demonstrates transparency and removes the distance between management and other levels of workers. Information is not hidden, and the whole company is united on the same goals, aligned around shared visual management.
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