The Truth about Visual Management Boards

An Effective Visual Management board showing the “Fingerprints” of Active Use

An Effective Visual Management board showing the “Fingerprints” of Active Use

By Justin Tao – TXM China Consulting Director

If takt time is the heart of lean production, visual management represents the nervous system in lean management. Visual management is an indispensable tool when we implement Lean. It helps the other lean tools more powerful by making their impact on the business visual. Most companies have visual management boards, which is the simplest format of visual management. However, I often find that some, so called, visual management boards become information boards, only showing the information, records or plans of the area. The contents are often out of date. What’s worse, I even find some visual management boards on the production line all in English in a Chinese factory. In this factory the team leader told me that she fill the information just by guesswork since she can’t understand any English! In this case, the visual management board definitely becomes a “show board”.

So what is a visual management board? I think a true visual management board should contain three elements: standard, problem and action.

  • Standard, means there should have the target or plan on the board, which tells how things should be if everything is perfect;
  • Problem, means deviations from standard. Anything different from Standard is a problem, either actual performance or the standard itself;
  • Action, means what countermeasures should be taken when there’s a problem.

All these elements help user to understand what’s actually going on in this area. Only by making the things visible it is possible to identify the deviations (problems) and quickly solve or address them.

So there’s another question: what kind of visual management board is a good one? In TXM, We believe that a good visual management board should match 31 seconds rule: In 1 second, it can tell us if it’s normal, everything fine in this area, according to the standard or plan; in 10 seconds, it tells us what the problem it is if it’s not normal; and in another 20 seconds, it tell us what actions are taken, who is responsible for this and what kind support needed. A good visual management board can have dialogue with users and viewers, and make lean daily leadership process more simple and efficient.

Visual management is a bridge between Standard work and daily meetings, it should be used properly and efficiently, and become a powerful tool for daily management.

The form of the Visual management board is limited only by your imagination! Contact TXM to make your visual management more efficiently and effectively.

Watch a video About using Visual Management boards in the Lean Daily Leadership Process.

Learn more about Visual Management