The Power of Visual Management

When is the last time you watched a sporting event without knowing or checking the score? Probably never. Or if you did, it was probably a game where you had no vested interest or didn’t care who won or lost. Now, imagine playing in that game. Knowing the score is what provides the players the incentive to play hard and drive for victory. The data on the scoreboard is what coaches use to develop strategy and manage the game. In a production environment, a good visual management (VM) process becomes the scoreboard that drives high-performance teams.

What Does Visual Management Do?

The most common use of VM is for live performance tracking. It should display the key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics so everyone knows what to focus on. It should also show how the team is doing versus the target at any given time. Data and graphs that show a longer-term view (weekly or monthly) will display the impact of the improvements the team makes on a daily basis. For managers, a solid VM program provides an instant look at if the team is on or off target, to better understand where support might be needed.

How to Design a Visual Management Board

The purpose of VM is to quickly convey information. Start by asking “What do I want to achieve?” or “What do I need to communicate?” A few examples of information to include in a VM process are:

  • Hourly / daily production data versus goal to show short-term trends
  • Weekly / monthly production data to show long-term trends
  • Notes on real-time issues in production, so production personnel and managers can create immediate plans to resolve the issues
  • Information to share between shifts
  • Upcoming plan information
  • Information to support your continuous-improvement program

Consider the axiom, “What gets measured, gets managed” as you plan your VM board. Display only vital information, so everyone knows how they’re performing while providing the manufacturing team the required information to make immediate improvement decisions. Also only include information that is regularly reviewed and used, or the program will not be as impactful.

Help your team succeed by helping them “know the score.”