Visual management is a powerful technique used to communicate information about a business’s status/performance in a rapid and easy to understand way.

When effective visual management can be great at highlighting non adherence to plan/process and instigating recovery action however in many cases visual management requires some form of input in order to present information. A significant issue for many tasked with deploying visual management especially performance management is around displaying information that is incorrect.

Performance management usually takes a business’s objectives and targets and correlates these with actual performance with visual management techniques then being utilized to present these around the business fostering knowledge both about the target but the gap between the target and actual results.

This however is meaningless if the underlying performance data is incorrect.

Personally I have lost count of the businesses that I have worked with that have struggled to produce accurate on time in full statistics on its supply chain. Problems within the process or in the way the ERP/MRP system captures the data renders this relatively simple metric all too often a black art. However given this issue its somewhat surprising that many of these businesses still presented the KPI on its performance management display boards around the business knowing full well the data behind them was incorrect.

The excuse is often that “Any visual management drives change no matter how inaccurate” – however is this answer really viable? Consider the impact of the workforce knowing that what it sees around the business cant’ be trusted. This doesn’t just cast a shadow on that particular metric but casts a shadow on the whole visual management process. Imagine that your production team is acting on a production control board that is inaccurate and driving the wrong behaviour! While it’s true that the purpose of visual management is to drive a reaction – incorrect information can just as readily drive resistance or actions inappropriate with the actual performance.

Visual management is not rocket science especially when combined with performance management. Make the information clear and easy to understand and make it right. Visual management is not just communicating a status its asking the workforce to think about what needs to be done to get back on target. If your presenting material that is inaccurate imagine what this could result in – wasted effort, lost productivity and cost.

Plan do check act (PDCA)

PDCA can be an invaluable tool in assessing whether your visual management deployment is delivering as expected. Once you’ve initially deployed your visual cues whatever they are – do go back round what you have deployed periodically and ensure that both what is being displayed is serving the purpose it was meant for and that the data being presented is fit for purpose.

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