Templates for Continuous Process Improvement


Visual Management

Team Accountability Board and other visual controls for visual management

Lean Visual Management Systems

Whenever you add a new element to your lean production system,
you should also quickly add supporting lean management elements.

We suggest that you start with visual controls —
which will then quickly require the other 2 elements of a lean management system:
routine accountability habits, and Leader Standard Work.

Visual Controls

The term "lean visual controls" can broadly include any intuitively-easy-to-understand system for monitoring
and controlling a process — with examples ranging from kanbans to painted golf balls — but most common is
the visual control chart.

A visual control chart is...

any printed or hand-written chart that:

  • is used for monitoring or controlling
    any aspect of production
  • is posted in plain sight very near the place where the actual work is done
  • is frequently updated with the latest results
    (timely enough to effectively respond to problems —
    not just historical post mortems)
  • graphically highlights problems
  • has notes clearly articulating the reasons for "misses" (differences between expected vs. actual results)
  • can be understood by a newcomer standing 10 feet away

Data inside a computer is not visual (until it is printed)

A visual management system must be visual. Data hidden inside a computer does not meet the above criteria —
until perhaps it is printed, or otherwise reproduced in a way that meets the above criteria.


Balance between
Computer and Handwritten Visual Control Charts

Hand-entered data is better for

  • Embarrassment

    When you are the author,
    are you proud
    of what you deliver?

    Ownership "fingerprints"
  • Timely data entry onto the printed form
  • Auditor initials

Computer-generated charts and forms
are better for

  • Creating the underlying printed form
    (that needs to be consistent, legible, easily reprinted...)
  • Computational accuracy
  • Charts
  • Data analysis
  • Sharing and archiving

Most lean visual management systems include a diverse assortment of visual controls, each with its own balance of hand-written and computer-generated elements.


Examples of lean visual control charts

To lead and manage any team Storyboard Lean Leadership, and
Lean Management
For assessment of each team's overall progress on their lean journey Lean Assessment Excel templateLean Assessment
For workplace organization and cleanliness — (to reveal problems) 5S trends 5S Scorecard
To keep every team working in alignment with strategic objectives Hoshin X-Matrix templateHoshin Strategic Planning Policy Deployment
Visual Task Assignment Board To Do List templateTeam To Do List —
published on your Team Accountability Board
To measure expected vs. actual results for ANY measure of team performance Results Metrics Excel templateResults Metrics

To graphically depict the relationship between ANY two factors affecting an issue.




Quadrant ChartQuadrant Chart
To publish the results of audits of team performance
Kaizen Event Audit form Standard Work Audit
Various Audit forms (Kaizen, Standard Work, TPM, 5S...)
For a flow operation designed to run at takt time
Pitch Log Pitch Log Monthly Trends

Daily Production Pitch Board

and Monthly Pitch Log
(for trend analysis)

Or to level the flow of both demand volume and mix variety Heijunka Box

Heijunka Box
(which technically is not a control chart,
but is a lean visual system)


Job Log



and Job-by-Job Tracking chart of expected to actual setup and run times

Pull system kanban order replenishment Lean Pull Queue Priority Board

Expected vs. actual replenishment cycle time


Priority Board Hourly Status chart

Water spider material supply route Expected vs. actual route cycle time
TPM Total Preventative Maintenance
equipment maintenance

Chart with worker's initials & actual time that they completed each scheduled maintenance activity.

(Like you see taped to the wall in airport rest rooms)

OEE Overall Equipment Effectiveness



OEE bar charts and waterfall charts

Create your own visual control charts for any activity of any kind —

using everything you know and
learn about Excel

Find a visual way to compare expected vs. actual results —
with data updated frequently enough for timely response —
with problems highlighted using graphics or colors —
and notes explaining the reasons for every miss.

Own all 150+ templates for visual management and process improvement

Visual controls

What is important about visual controls to you, the leader at any level, is that you understand the reason for having them. By insisting through your standard work that the visuals are maintained and current, visuals constantly reinforce the focus on process. This focus makes it easier to see the contrast
between expected and actual process performance. By doing this, visuals allow you to identify opportunities for improvement.

~ David Mann — Creating a Lean Culture

When measures are too green

Pitch Log Monthly Trends

If any measure is green more than 80% of the time, then consider lowering the water
(to reveal more stumps and alligators hidden beneath the surface of a too-easy standard)

Lower the inventory, shorten the time, reduce setup times, cross train people...
Do something to raise the standard —
to continuously improve to the next level of higher performance toward lean ideals

The only way to solve a problem is to first expose it.

Bookmark = TeamBoard

Team Accountability Board

Leader Standard Work

As suggested in the Leader Standard Work template, each Team, Supervisor, and Value Stream should have its own bulletin board located very near the place where the actual work is done.

This Team Accountability Board displays the team's most important visual information, and also serves as the agenda and meeting location for the team's stand up meetings.

The format and contents of each team's bulletin board can vary greatly.
Common elements often include:

Balance between
Computer and Sticky Note Tracking Systems

We at Systems2win are more computer-oriented than most, but we really like the sticky note based Accountability Board tracking systems for both Task Assignments and Suggestions as described in Chapter 5 of David Mann's book, Creating a Lean Culture.

We like them for their simplicity, accessibility, visuality, and the "fingerprint" factor of keeping the task or suggestion in the person's own words and hand writing.

Many teams, however, like to also publish printed copies of project status reports on their Team Accountability board — usually sliding the latest printed report into a transparent document-holder sleeve.

To Do List
Gantt Summary
Value Stream Plan

The Team To Do List and Excel Gantt Chart and Value Stream Plan templates can be a powerful supplement to a Team Accountability Board — by providing easy, field-proven ways for the Team Leader to:

  1. Have well-organized "parking lot" systems

    to store (and later actually come back to) suggestions and tasks that are not high enough priority to be front and center on the sticky note Accountability Board — which should remain uncluttered — with only high priority tasks and suggestions that are actually being considered or implemented now

  2. Organize longer-term plans for more complex multi-phased projects

    providing field-proven structures for breaking complex projects into bite-sized Work Breakdown Structures — which the leader can then release in the form of a visible sticky note at the precise moment that the team needs to do something about it

  3. Archive completed tasks

    We agree that it is good motivation to leave completed sticky notes on the Accountability Board for a period of time — so that the team feels the satisfaction that comes from seeing all of those green round stickers — but at some point, the board will need to be cleared to make room for the even greater accomplishments that just keep coming.

Process Observation Point

A Team Accountability Board often doubles as a 'Process Observation Point' or 'Visual Observation Station':

A designated place to easily oberve the process.

Although a Process Observation Point might also have visual controls for
quality, reliability, scrap, cost, pace, or any other Key Performance Indicators...

the most essential element that should be front and center in any Process Observation Point
is a visual control that instantly indicates how well your product is flowing through that work area.

Acid test for Lean Flow

Invite someone unfamiliar with the work area
to stand at the clearly-marked Process Observation Point,

ideally with no further instruction, but perhaps with a brief explanation for:

1) how to read your at-a-glance visual control chart that makes heijunka flow visible for this process

2) how often it is updated — which usually coincides with your Pitch Cycle

(which is measured in hours; not days)

and then ask...

Is this process flowing as expected?

The answer should be either yes or no... red or green... no yellow.

Learn more about why this is the ultimate acid test for your entire lean transformation

Bookmark = storyboard

Lean Storyboard for Visual Management

aka PDCA Storyboard, Improvement Kata Storyboard, Learner's Storyboard

As popularized in the book The Toyota Kata, by Mike Rother, a Learner's Storyboard is a special type of Team Accountability board — used to facilitate and guide interaction between Learner and Coach, and to visually tell the story of the progress of a rapidly-changing PDCA project.

Lean Learner's Storyboard

Focus Process


Strategic Challenge

<Brief, compelling vision statement that almost never changes>

See guidelines for how to phrase your Strategic Challenge

Target Condition

Achieve by: <date>

<Brief description
that usually only changes
when one Target is achieved,
and the Next Target is chosen>

See online training
for Next Goal Setting

Value Stream Map
Results Metrics

Current Condition

See online training
for Process Analysis

Cycle Time Observations
Block Diagram
Machine Balance template

PDCA Cycles Record

See online training
for PDCA template

PDCA template

Obstacles Parking Lot

Unprioritized list of things that you
might need to address
in future PDCA Cycles.

(You focus on only
one obstacle at a time)

Sample Lean Storyboard example — in the format suggested for Toyota Kata Coaching

(publish on a large bulletin board)

Your PDCA Coaching template provides a standard format

that can be used throughout your organization

If you have physical space for 2 separate storyboards near the same process,
then you might decide to follow the Learner's Storyboard approach exactly as taught in The Toyota Kata,
using the PDCA template only in the section of the Learner's Storyboard for PDCA tracking.


Navigating unknown territory?

Use PDCA Coaching

If you use the Systems2win PDCA Coaching template, however,
it does already incorporate every element of the Improvement Kata Storyboard,

so some Coaches might find it sufficiently visual, (and easier)
to simply publish that normal-sized working document in a transparent sleeve
on your (already-existing) Team Accountability Board (described in the section above).

You can purchase a wide variety of transparent document holders from any office supply store.

Perhaps a single sleeve to hold the stapled multi-page PDCA Coaching document, or perhaps multiple sleeves to show each page.

Perhaps supplement the (abbreviated) Current Condition section with a more detailed Process Analysis document.

and other Coaches might want to make things even more visual

by supplementing the report with some personalized format for some large-print or graphic
progress summary on their own personalized Team Accountability Board.

The point is that there's not just one "right" way to communicate your Lean Storyboard.
The important thing is to incorporate all of the essential elements — and make it visual.

"Eventually your organizationʼs storyboard design may evolve to suit your environment and culture. But try to keep a standard storyboard format across your organization, so coaching and communication are easier.

Having a common format for the Learnerʼs storyboard makes it easier for the Coach to go from one Learner to the next."

Mike Rother ~ Author of The Toyota Kata

Do something about the problems you find

Pareto Chart

A primary purpose of any lean visual management system is to reveal problems.

The assumption is that you will actually do something about the problems that get revealed.

If your lean leaders don't actually solve problems as they surface — then people will quickly lose interest, and wonder why they're doing all this extra paperwork to identify even more problems that management ignores.

If it is to succeed, every lean production system must be implemented with a corresponding lean management system.

The relationship between
visual controls and standard work

The primary purpose of visual controls is to quickly and visibly reveal process abnormalities.

Any abnormality should prompt the following 3 questions:

  1. Did this happen because no standard work exists?
  2. Did this happen because the standard is incorrect or incomplete?
  3. Did this happen because someone didn't correctly follow the standard work?

Bookmark = Reading

Suggested Reading and Resources

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More suggested reading & resources


Your visual management tools also come with

lean management templates, kaizen tools, project management tools,
load leveling
templates, strategic planning tools, and A3 Problem Solving tools


all for one low price
that is affordable enough to empower every team member














Your purchase price is usually justified with the 1 or 2 templates that you use most

The others are a really nice
"gift with purchase"

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