Visual management is a tool and technique that uses visual cues to report and communicate an organizations vision, standards and performance. The technique involves presenting data and information through the use of visual stimuli for example signs, charts, colors and other similar techniques.

Visual management is commonly utilized within business improvement and continuous improvement programs to ensure that organizational goals, standards and performance is communicated effectively, being promulgated quickly and consistently throughout the business.

This style of visual communication creates an environment of information sharing and ensures that workers are fully knowledgeable of the businesses performance and any gaps that require action. Visual management, when used within a plan, do, check act improvement process can go some way towards ensuring that processes and performance directly supports the business need.

As a technique using visual cues has many key benefits. Primarily it helps to improve the awareness of the workforce maintaining focus on performance and standards, addressing those issues that may prevent targets from being met.

One of the other significant advantages of visual management is the speed of which information can be transferred. Visual cues used on the factory floor can, for example, communicate information far more quickly than team meetings or briefings. For example, production control boards are popularly used in manufacturing environments. These will typically highlight through the use of color and easy to understand charts performance against the production schedule. The workforce is often directly involved in updating and maintaining the information shown, focusing their attention on the performance of the assembly line and what needs to be achieved to bring the throughput in line with requirement.

Visual management doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult and it can be a very simple and effective method at organizing and communicating activities. The use of the technique can also add color and fun in an environment that can often be perceived as dull and lifeless.

But how do you know when your visual management deployment is a success? Here are five examples that you can expect to see when your visual management deployment is effective.

• Production control meetings happen around visual management control boards
• Senior management use it to understand current performance
• It is utilized by work cell team members to track issues.
• The information presented is easy to understand and accessible.

Visual management certainly requires some forethought and its deployment it is not all about how nice the signage is but about its use and the results you expect. Hastily produced and ill thought through visual management tools may offer little benefit. Remember, there are no hard and fast rules regarding colors, types of information, materials used to display the information. Take time to do your research, look at previous examples of what has worked and use those as your start point.
Get buy in

Remember to engage your work colleagues in your visual management project. Understand what information would be useful to display using this technique. Are your performance targets well known? Is the departmental mission well understood? Do you require any cross functional support in obtaining information. Visual management that has been deployed by a team will have a higher likelihood of success, as it will be more likely to meet the business requirement.

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