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What is Visual Management?

lean visual management

Problems should be made visible in the Gemba. If an abnormality cannot be detected, nobody can manage the process. Thus the first principle of visual management is to spotlight problems. 

When a hotel guest comes to the reception desk and asks for an aspirin or a list of good restaurants nearby, the hotel’s inability to fulfil those needs constitutes an abnormality. 

By posting a list of the most frequent requests received from guests, the hotel’s management can gain an awareness of service deficiencies that need to be addressed.

Definition of Visual management

Making abnormalities visible to all employees—managers, supervisors, and workers—so that corrective action can begin at once.

If the first reason for visual management’s existence is to make problems visible, the second is to help both workers and supervisors stay in direct contact with the reality of the Gemba. 

example of visual management

Visual management is a practical method for determining when everything is under control and for sending a warning the moment an abnormality arises.

When we take our customers on tours of Japanese factories, our hosts usually show us their display boards that allow everybody to see the production schedule and how the work is progressing. The formats are different for each plant. 

Some use whiteboards, whereas others use paper; some use magnets, but the display boards are always clear and easy to understand, serving the purpose of helping people by allowing them to stay in touch with reality on the Gemba. 

lean visual management

.It is important to never forget that visual tools have enormous power to drive improvement. This is why 5S, which sets standards and makes abnormality quickly visible, is always the first step and the last step in each kaizen journey

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