Visual Management

The Tool and Why It’s Valuable

Visual Management is presenting information to create at-a-glance understanding. It is a Lean strategy that employs the use of visual tools and indicators to engage people in the workplace, improve communication & understanding, coordinate flow, and direct response without requiring meetings. Using visual indicators is helpful because they can:

  • Communicate performance measures, status, and information.
  • Show whether expected performance is being met.
  • Alert people to abnormal conditions.
  • Implement safety precautions.
  • Provide immediate feedback to/from team members, supervisors, and managers.

How to Apply It

  1. Evaluate the process you are improving and determine the measures of success for that process. Is it a rate of completion? The number of defects? Should progress be constantly modeled? Are you focused on safety?
  2. Select a visual tool that would be most helpful to your process and be creative!
  3. After using your visual tools for a while, evaluate whether they are providing the information you need. If not, consider trying different tools.
Pearls and Pitfalls
  • Colors, textures, and shapes can help people determine if something belongs or doesn’t, but recall that many people are colorblind.
  • Using a lot of text instead of images is the hard habit to break, but well worth it!
  • Not all information is best remembered using imagery techniques – so don’t go overboard.

Key Points:

  • Anyone can use visual management to improve their workplace, forms, and other means of communications.
  • Do your emails have multiple paragraphs instead of short bullets?
  • Are the forms you use for your job consistently missing information or incorrectly completed?
  • Visual cues are all around us (e.g. stoplights, signs, the redline on your car, etc.). Learn to absorb ideas for visual management and apply them to your workplace.
  • In some cases, improved visual management can come from removing items from the workplace, not adding them. (See 5S on page 65.)
  • By using visual management, you can quickly make improvements, reduce misunderstanding and errors.

Examples of Visual Management:

Create quick reference cards instead of written tips

tips for visual management

Why Using Visuals is Important:

  • Research has shown that we remember visual images much easier and better than words.
  • Since 65% of the population are visual learners, images are critical to engaging people visuals:
    • Stick in long-term memory
    • Transmit messages faster
    • Improve comprehension