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Visual Management & Leader Standard Work: Make Your Own – Guest Blogger Mark Hamel

October 21, 2015

We welcome Mark to Greenville on November 10th for the Lean Alliance Annual Event at the Kroc Center. Mark will be speaking on the topic: Visual Management and Leader Standard Work. It is open to anyone who would like to attend, members and non-members. Details and registration can be found here.

Following the Lean Alliance Event, Mark will facilitate a two-day workshop at our Business Learning Center in Greenville on November 11th and 12th. For more information and to register, click here.







An effective lean management system harnesses at least three different types of leader standard work in concert: 1) gemba walks, 2) reflection meetings (a.k.a. huddles), and 3) andon response. However, leader standard work without the benefit of solid visual management is an extremely blunt instrument.

…Blunt as in gemba walks that feel a lot like industrial tourism, reflection meetings that yield little more than a bunch of yammering, and unidentifiable or indecipherable andons.

All pretty frustrating stuff.

Well designed and integrated visual management supports adherence to standards, quick identification of abnormalities, daily problem solving, and organizational alignment. And it comes in two basic, and hopefully very balanced, flavors: visual process adherence (VPA) and visual process performance (VPP).

As the name implies, VPA is about adherence to process standards. When incorporated with gemba walk-based leader standard work, it also has to do with the sufficiency of the process. VPA tools include things like operator standard work, material replenishment systems, and their cards, totes, boards, etc., and production analysis boards. These tools help the workers and lean leaders quickly identify abnormalities, determine why they are occurring, and make the necessary adjustments.

VPP typically represents metrics related to categories of people, quality, delivery, cost, and continuous improvement. These tend to be simple, actionable, and specific sets of timely metrics that provide insight to teams relative to how they are trending and performing versus an unambiguous target. When used in the context of frequent, standard team-based huddles, these metrics can be a powerful tool that drives vertical and horizontal alignment throughout the organization and prompts (with the aid of good lean leadership behaviors) critical thinking and ultimately, problem solving.

So where do these powerful visual controls come from?

Certainly, we can take the route that many have followed – visit a leaner company, take a load of pictures of some very cool looking visuals and then recreate and “implement” them within our business.

There’s just one problem, those borrowed visuals usually won’t work for you. (It’s sort of like borrowing someone else’s custom made shoes.)

They were designed by the original owner (that leaner company that you visited), for the owner, to solve owner-specific problems.

Effective visuals should start from your value stream specific needs and undergo a certain PDCA-based development rigor that will yield VPA and VPP tools that are both tailored for your organization and are readily integrated into your leader standard work.

And that’s exactly what we’ll be discussing in Greenville.

I hope to see you there!