1.07 – The 3 Second Rule to Visual Management | Principles of Lean
“Make sure you can understand what is going on within 3-seconds.”
One of the principles we follow during all our consultancy sessions is what we call the 3-second rule. It’s simple – we ask:
Can I walk into any area and understand within 3-seconds how things are going?
Too often, problems remain hidden. Somewhere, someone has an incredible 10-page report hidden on their computer, but when performance is unknown by the team, it’s generally useless.
The principle is to make things visible and get all problems in the open for the immediate and broader management team to understand.
So here are a few tips.
1) It essential that visual management doesn’t become like wallpaper so identify for each team or process the top vital metrics and make those visible in the most straightforward way possible. A grided whiteboard maybe all you need with red and green pens to indicate a RAG status.
2) Avoid the temptation in the early stages to make an online dashboard. These tend to work much better once the team has developed the habit.
3) Make sure that potential problems are visible so that everyone will be aware of what is happening. For example, this might be when a teams workload goes above a critical level or when a certain number of issues in a day/week/month happen. Or when production falls below a certain target level.
4) Go through your current reports and ask “So What?”. Reports should be designed to drive action. A report that that does drive a set of activities is what we call a “So What?” report. To simplify your reports, try to move towards single-page documents. And make sure that the report will drive critical actions that are linked to the results.
5) Don’t hide user instructions – make them visual. There is no point having well-documented processes in the shared folders that no one ever looks at except for the yearly audit requirement. Once again, see how ‘work instruction’ can be made visual to support the process.
6) Most companies fail to go far enough when it comes to visual management, so be brave. It’s better to go too far and then cut back once you learn what really adds value e.g action!