I want to thank Ann Mazzoli for sending a couple examples of visual management that was used out in the retail environment.
The examples are from a dressing room.
This first example is very clear and can be understood as to how it could help the shopping experience. When trying on clothes, I always separate them into two piles after I have tried it on. No/Maybe and Yes. This shows clearly a place to hang the clothes to make it easier.
The second example…not so clear
I have no idea what “Tomorrow” would mean for a dressing room experience. Do you know what it could mean?
Visual management and labeling is great, but it has to be clear and understandable by the people that will use it.
Ann, thanks for sharing.
If anyone else has any examples please feel free to share them.
There is a new Walmart being built near my house. It is just a couple of weeks away from opening. As I drove past, I noticed the lines for the parking spots were two different colors. The lines for the spaces that are near the building are painted white. The lines for the spaces away from the building are painted yellow.
I had my suspicions as to why and they have been confirmed.
The spaces painted that are away from the building are there to indicate where employees can park. The white spaces are to be reserved for customers.
Auditing will only be effective if Walmart employees have some kind of sticker or indicator on their car. Or do they trust their employees will do the right thing?
Either way, the visual communicates to the employee a message in a simple manner, “You are parked too close or you are not.”
Note: I tried to take a picture but couldn’t get at a good distance and elevation to show the parking lot effectively.
Here is another example of quick easy visual management.
This is a soap mold from my wife’s business. A couple of the spots in the mold have cracked and now they are not usable. She put a quick ‘X’ on the bottom of the mold so when she is pouring she knows she can’t use that cavity.
Visual management doesn’t have to be high tech or fancy. It just has to convey the message quickly and at a glance. In this case, the cavity is usable or it is not.
Share examples of how you have used visual management at work or at home.
Today’s post is from Tony Ferraro, on behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR (www.creativesafetysupply.com). Tony strives to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. His knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. Tony believes in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement. An organized, safe, and well-planned work space leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier employees.
When we think of lean, most people’s minds go straight to the business sector of manufacturing. While lean has been incorporated particularly well in industrial settings, lean has also experienced quite a bit of success in regular, everyday endeavors, not to mention in travel as well. The concept of lean was alive and well during a recent vacation I took. My last vacation went especially smooth due to a few lean practices that have been put into place to save time, money, and people’s sanity while visiting unfamiliar places.
Lean Airport (MSP – Minneapolis, MN) – The first inklings of lean processes were evident right at the airport before I even embarked on the actual vacation. After I made my way through ticketing and security, I set out to find my gate. Once I located my gate, it only took a second or two to notice the abundance of technology just radiating around me. There I stood in a sea of mini iPad stations just ripe for the picking. To put this into perspective, there was basically a built-in iPad station for every seat in the gate area. Not only were these iPads free to use but their use was actually encouraged. Sitting down at a station, I soon realized that these iPads were equipped with a multitude of different functions from checking flight statuses all the way to ordering and paying for various food items or supplies. As I was navigating through the iPad, I noticed that a person next to me was being served a drink right at his seat that he had ordered via the iPad. This is truly an excellent example of how an airport has utilized technology to make traveling easier and more pleasant for the customer.
Lean Rental Car Experience – My next encounter with lean happened shortly after I arrived at my destination. I’ve always considered obtaining a rental car to be one of the most tedious and dreaded parts of many of my previous vacations, however this time it wasn’t. A couple of weeks before I was set to leave for vacation, I called the car rental company Hertz and became a “gold” member which was quick and easy, and not to mention free. Being a gold member opened a whole new door of perks. I didn’t have to wait in any lines or deal with any sort of messy paperwork. Instead, I simply stepped off the shuttle at the rental car location, looked up at an electronic board to identify my name and stall number and simply walked to that parking stall. Once I arrived at my car, the trunk was open and the keys were in the ignition. Needless to say, I was thrilled with this efficient service and it took less than 10 minutes from start to finish and I was out on the highway enjoying the beginnings of my vacation. By signing up for the “gold” membership not only did I have an easier and faster experience, but I did not require any further help from Hertz employees which in turn helped to streamline the experience for them as well.
Lean Parking Ramp – I bet you think I’m going to say the parking ramp was lean because the entrance and exits were completely electronic and required no parking assistant and while this is true, it goes quite a bit deeper. The parking ramp I utilized was equipped with a fairly new technology known as “Park Assist.” Ok, I’m just going to say it, I love park assist. Any large and busy parking ramp could make their customers much happier with the help of parking technology. Park Assist features little green or red lights which are illuminated on the ceiling directly above the path where cars drive. If a parking spot is open the light will illuminate green, but if the spot is taken it will illuminate red. This type of technology increases more effective parking but also enhances safety. Instead of drivers constantly trying to look side to side while driving looking for the next open spot, all the driver needs to do is look for an illuminated green light and pull into the corresponding parking spot. Wow, this was impressive. Parking ramps can be pretty dangerous as there always seems to be people bobbing in and out between parked cars. This technology allows drivers to keep a greater focus on driving safely, but also helps them to find parking spots quicker.
The implementation of lean into daily life and travel has led to some monumental improvements which have helped to make once dreaded tasks much more palatable, and maybe even actually enjoyable.
When working with an area, department or organization to implement lean people like to focus on implementing a specific tool or concept, but it’s not that easy. The concepts and tools are so intertwined that focusing on one is really difficult to do.
An example would be implementing SMED (or quick changeover) across a facility. A vast majority of the time a large opportunity for improvement is through organization, having the tools you need where you need them and knowing when and where to be for the changeover. Immediately, other concepts that come to mind are visual management to understand when and where to be without having to ask. Also, 5S which can help with organization and having the right tools at the right spot. 5S is also a component of visual management.
A second example is implementing strategy deployment. There is standard work to how to cascade catchball down through the organization and it should be documented to be repeatable. Then the strategy is usually documented on an A3 to help communicate the message and most companies use visual management to show progress to the entire organization as time progresses.
As a person working to help others implement lean, it is OK to let them believe they are only focusing on one concept to start. Sometimes thinking about the intertwined concepts can become overwhelming. Let the customer focus on the one concept and introduce the other concepts through the backdoor. There is no need to call out the lean concept. Just discuss what a way to help them solve their problem in further implementing the concept the are focusing on.
At a later date, you can show them how they have actually implemented other lean concepts successfully. This helps build their confidence, shows further progress then what they believed and builds momentum to continue moving forward and taking more on.
Don’t get hung up on explaining all the intertwined concepts. Delivery on the needs of the customer and it will all work out.
Visuals really help people understand the information. Everyone sees the same visual and it starts a good conversation allowing people to gain high agreement. The issue is all the visuals I listed are tools and as with any tool you need to understand when to use it.
To be effective with using visuals, you need to understand what information the group is trying to understand. What is the purpose of the visual? Who is the audience? What do they need to learn from it?
Most of the time the standard visuals will be perfect. You can use them and get everything you need. That is why those tools are well known, because they are used all the time and work. But sometimes, they won’t.
Don’t be afraid to make up a visual tool to present the right information in an easily digestible manner.
Here are a couple a colleague and I came up with for a recent event:
This one shows the % of time people spent doing different tasks throughout the day. It helped the group better understand who was doing what and for how long.
This one shows the frequency of tasks. Daily, Weekly or Monthly? What was the task done on? Who many times on that day?
In both cases, the different colored post-its represent different areas of the company doing the work.
As you can see, the standard visual tools would not have shown this information in a easy manner to understand. We designed this for the group and it worked very well.
We can’t always rely on the tools we have and know in our toolbox. Sometimes we have to think outside the toolbox. It is important to understand what your customer/group is trying to accomplish and design the visual accordingly. Don’t meet the needs of the tool. Meet your group’s needs.
If you are a regular reader of Beyond Lean, you may know that my wife has her own small business. It is just her and I. She runs the business 24/7 and I help where I can on nights and weekends.
Both of us have learned about a wide range of business aspects over the last couple of years from her small business. My wife has a background in marketing, but has learned a lot about IT and web design, materials, costing, production of a consistent product, using data to determine what the customers like and a lot more.
I have been working quite a bit with display booth setup and teardown (quick changeovers), preparing raw materials for usage and investment decisions.
When owning and running a small business a person can see everything from end-to-end. How a packaging decision can affect sales? How does shelf life of a product have an effect on the quality? How do certain ingredients react when mixing for production? Do they cause immediate quality issues? Do they cause quality issues over time?
In our experience, we have seen how lean thinking can be more natural for a small business. There is more of a concern about inventory and cash on hand, so there are many decisions that go into building to stock or building to order. Using visual management to make things easier to see when work needs to be done or not. I have some examples from my wife’s business that I will post at a later date as well as examples I have posted in the past.
I have learned numerous things from working with my wife in her small business that I carry on to my other job as lessons to apply.
Owning a small business is very hard work. You have to learn about things that don’t necessarily interest you, but if you want to be successful you have to get it done. In the end, it can be very rewarding and extremely educational.
I received this picture from a guy I worked with and coached for a couple of years. I am sharing this with his permission
(click on image to enlarge)
He and his wife would go to the store and if there was a sale, they would buy meat. They never knew what they had at home. When they got home from a recent trip they had bought meat they had plenty of…again. So my friend decided to get visual. He sorted out the meat that had gone bad and then created this visual board to better understand when he needed to buy a particular type of meat. He likes to barbeque so he keeps a variety of meat on hand.
The board is simple. Conveys one type of information. And anyone can understand it by looking at it.
What visual management have you used at home?
Last year, Beyond Lean hosted two lean series weeks. The week focused on a specific topic. Posts were from not only Joe and me but also guests. Giving the reader a different perspective on one topic for the week all in one place.
Please take the time to answer the poll letting us know what you would like to see as the next topic for the Lean Series week.
The first lean series was on standardized work.
- Standardized Work is Foundational to Continuous Improvement
- Standardized Work and Your Packaging Line
- What Standard Work Is
- Standardized Work Lessons Learned
The second series was on visual management.
- My Ode to Visual Management
- Managing Chemicals by Eye
- Saving time: How Visual Management Benefits Knowledge Work
- Visual Management is Critical to Lean
New followers of the blog can use this as an opportunity to read posts they might have not seen in the past. While, long time followers can use this as an opportunity to re-read some of the top viewed posts.
This post will count down the 10th thru 6th most viewed posts of 2012. Enjoy!
10. Guest Post: Selling Lean to People That Don’t Want It (July 2011) – This is a post from Joe Wilson before he became a full-time author at Beyond Lean. Joe talks about ways to sell lean to people who are not bought into the benefits of lean.
9. Making Leader Standard Work Visual (June 2011) – Previous Year Ranked #8 – An example of a visual board from a group I worked with. The board makes the tasks and if they were completed by the managers visual.
8. Dilbert Leading Transformation (July 2010) – Previous Year Ranked #10 – The Pointy-Haired Boss wants clear responsibilities and employee engagement.
7. True Mentoring (May 2012) – This is my take on true mentoring versus fake mentoring that goes on in business today.
6. Comparing Lean Principles to the 14 Toyota Principles (July 2010) – Previous Year Ranked #5 – The first part of a three part series where I compared the lean principles I learned from the Lean Learning Center to the Toyota Principles. This post covers the first five Toyota Principles.
My next post will count down the Top 5 viewed posts of 2012.