Don’t live in a museum!


Visual management is a complex concept that is often misused. Its main problem is that it looks easy to do, but it is not. This sounds obvious, but there it goes anyway: “visual management” must be visual and must help manage a process (value stream). Easy, right? Not really.

  • “Visual” means that its main purpose is to make problems visible. Of course some visual boards have other extra uses, like showing the flow of the product or service, aligning your team, sharing metrics…. but if it does not show clearly if you are in trouble or not, you’ve missed the point.
  • “Management” means it must generate action. Problems are shown to know where the product is not flowing, find out why and put in place actions that correct the problem and hopefully eliminate it forever.

Visual controls can’t work alone. A board with nice colors won’t help you much without “Standard accountability processes” and “Leader standard work”. A great resource to learn more about this topic is “Creating a lean culture” by David Mann.

If your boards and panels don’t show problems or drive actions, you don’t have visual management, you have a museum.

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