Key rules for any business when developing its strategy is ensuring that workplace activities and roles are aligned with the business objective, and that goals and performance are adequately communicated to key stakeholders. This is true of any business strategy whether that’s selling millions of dollars of widgets to deploying a business improvement project.

Developing suitable business processes that meet these objectives is one thing but it is imperative that this is coupled with business measures and metrics that offer adequate insight into business performance against targets and can be analyzed to help explain gaps (in order that recovery action can be initiated). Having KPI’s or metrics however is never, by itself, sufficient, the organization must adequately communicate these to its stakeholders (it’s workforce and its management). A workforce that is able to see how activities and tasks are helping the company meet its objectives, whilst also having a hand in how processes are constructed to meet these goals are likely to be more productive, be able to understand the link between performance and results and be better equipped in solving any problems that might arise.

Whilst there are a variety of communication tools open to businesses, visual management can be one of the strongest and simplest to deploy. Visual management is a is typically used to describe a number of smaller tools and methods that can be used for communication purposes – such as, visual aids (i.e. posters and signs), charts or graphs, indicators and visible queues which all act to communicate business goals and current performance. Visual management reinforces and strengthens messages about corporate methods and objectives, offering a reliable message of what is required how it should be achieved and why. Visual Management also has the benefit of being consistent in how and what information is promulgated within the organization. The same message is relayed in the same way to all personnel.

Whilst often associated with manufacturing environments, visual management is common place in many organizations . Technological advances has seen visual management leap from paper to digital display boards that can be used to communicate timely performance information and key issues or problems. Real time updates can assist in immediately aligning the shop-floor with targets – clearly displaying accomplishments and work to do, and identify performance gaps which require attention (remember that KPI’s alone will not achieve results, but understanding them and acting on the results will).

While visual performance measures have become commonplace, businesses should look to be innovative in how they are applied and what information is communicated whether this is work schedules, training records, financial performance through to environmental performance– the important thing is to look to utilize visual communication as a way of ensuring a consistent, goal orientated, message is communicated.

For more information check out this excellent video from http://www.leanmanufacturingsecrets.com

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