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Designing Visual Management

A UK national hire company wanted to improve quality and productivity so as to achieve world-class status in their market sector. This required 300 nationwide branches and distribution locations being brought within a standardised approach to business process improvement. This would result in universally high standards of service across all branches, generating enhanced customer loyalty and repeat business.

Visual Management was key to implementing lean systems at the company, though there was awareness that this might create uncertainty and anxiety amongst the workforce, so the CEO posted a video to company personnel, explaining the reason for employing lean systems to create process improvements.

5s is the correct tool for creating visual order, but Visual Control is also necessary, backed by the correct process metrics and measures. Selecting process measures is where most companies stop, but lean companies make them visible by placing them on boards, whilst also establishing a routine of standard work so that metrics can be reviewed effectively.

Consequently, the company created a suite of standard boards for all locations – and these, along with a policy of treating everyone with dignity and respect, secured the trust and support of the workforce. This allowed for effective implementation of change processes and the pursuit of enhanced standards throughout the organisation.