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.
Every lean tool needs
Focus on Visual Controls
When you focus on visual controls,
What are Lean Visual Controls?
The term 'lean visual controls' can broadly include...
Any intuitively-easy-to-understand system
for monitoring and controlling a process
Visual Management Board
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 ideally be understood at a glance
by anyone passing by
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 Management Systems
Hand-entered data is better for
Computer-generated charts and forms
Most lean visual management systems include a diverse assortment of visual controls,
Visual Management Examples
Visual Management Tools
|To lead and manage any team||
Many visual templates
for Lean Leadership, and
Lean Management Systems
|For assessment of each team's overall progress on their lean journey||Lean Assessment|
For workplace organization
to reveal problems
To understand how each process fits in the value stream
and to track key metrics to ensure that each process is not obstructing overall flow
|To keep every team working in alignment with strategic objectives||Hoshin Strategic Planning Policy Deployment|
|To keep the team focused on their biggest issues|
Visual Task Assignment Board
published on your
or similar Team To Do List
Monitor currently active projects
What's the team currently working on?
How are they coming with that?
|To measure expected vs. actual results for ANY measure of team performance|
|To publish the results of audits of team performance|
|To monitor quality|
To graphically depict the relationship between ANY two factors affecting an issue.
For a flow operation
also for tracking expected to actual arrival times for 'water spider' material flow supplies
Daily Production Pitch Board
and Monthly Pitch Log
|Or to level the flow of both demand volume and mix variety||
which technically is not a control chart,
and Job-by-Job Tracking chart
of expected to actual setup and run times
|Pull system kanban order replenishment||
Expected vs. actual
Priority Board Hourly Status chart
OEE bar charts
To visually tell a story
of what challenges your team faced, and how you smashed those problems into submission
To remind team members of why decisions were made
and agreed upon
To ensure that team members are trained
and cross trained
to remind people of the way that everyone agreed to do it
and to ensure that people are actually doing things the way you think they are
Visual Management Systems are foundational to any Lean System
Bookmark = invent
Create your own Visual Management Boards
These templates provide an excellent starting point
so that your expensive Black Belts aren't wasting time
re-inventing tools that are common to many production and office environments...
but once your people understand the tools and systems that are readily available,
and start to conceive ideas to make them even better
to meet the unique needs of your unique processes...
then, yes, absolutely...
Invent your own visual controls
Starting with either:
- Any one of the above templates
that provides a good starting point to give you a great start
- A blank template
that gives your custom tool all the value-add features common to all of your 150+ Systems2win templates
- A blank Excel workbook
If you enjoy the challenge, and your employer is wiling to pay you
for the non-value-add time to start from a white page and a blinking cursor
- A creative idea
Although Visual Control Charts are the most common type of visual control,
they aren't your only choice.
Kanban signals might be golf balls, triangles, or all kinds of creative objects.
You might come up with creative colored flags to make your Lean Office Work Flow Cycle visible.
You might use colored lights for more than just jidoka andons.
Assuming that you are inventing a visual control chart...
Use everything you know and learn about familiar Microsoft Excel
and everything you know about how to personalize any Systems2win template
Go for it...
Create your own visual controls for any activity of any kind
Just make sure that any custom visual control that you invent meets the
Fundamental Requirements of a Visual Control
- Compares expected vs. actual results
Because that's the primary purpose of a visual management system:
To reveal abnormalities, so they can be corrected quickly.
- Is visual
Not buried in a computer.
Problems are highlighted using graphics, colors, and creative ways to be intuitive and visual
- Is near the place where the work is done
So that the people doing (and supervising) the work can use the real-time feedback.
- Is updated frequently
Frequently enough to actually make real-time corrections. Not just post-mortems.
- Has notes explaining reasons for every miss
For post-mortems — that lead to measurable improvements.
- Is accompanied by a Lean Management System
That empowers leaders to actually do something about revealed problems — quickly.
Visual Management Systems
Constantly reinforce focus on the process ...
using intuitive graphics and/or colors ...
that can be quickly understood by a newcomer passing by
What is most important about visual controls is that you, (the leader at any level)...
Understand the reason for having a visual management system
"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
By doing this, visuals allow you to identify opportunities for improvement."
~ David Mann — Creating a Lean Culture
Do something about the problems you find
The primary purpose of any visual management system
is to quickly and visibly reveal process abnormalities
Any abnormality should prompt the following 3 questions
- Did this happen because no standard work exists?
- Did this happen because the standard is incorrect or incomplete?
- Did this happen because someone didn't correctly follow the standard work?
When measures are too green
If any measure is green more than 80% of the time, then consider lowering the water
Lower the inventory, shorten the time, reduce setup times, cross train people...
Do something to raise the standard —
The only way to solve a problem is to first expose it.
If the primary purpose of visual control is to reveal problems...
then the assumption is that you lean leadership team will actually
Do something about the problems that get revealed
- Perhaps launch a team, or expand the charter of an existing one
- Perhaps your team might maintain a Pareto Chart of the top 3 priority problems you are currently working on — and publish it on your Team Accountability Board.
- Perhaps a team member might volunteer to lead an A3 problem solving exercise.
- Perhaps a problem might prove worthy of a kaizen event.
- Perhaps a problem might need to be escalated to a higher tier of your lean management structure.
- Perhaps a problem might affect and be of interest to the larger value stream.
- If things aren't flowing, re-design the process for lean flow.
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 busy work to identify even more problems that management ignores.
Every lean tool needs
If it is to succeed,
and the most obvious elements
Bookmark = TeamBoard
Visual Management Board
The most common element of a visual management system is a Team Board
Team Accountability Board
As suggested in your Leader Standard Work template, (LSW.xlsx)
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:
- Printed charts summarizing the most important Key Performance Indicators.
(Charts must be kept current — often printed daily, or even more often for particularly time-critical data)
- Sticky note based tracking systems — for Task Assignments and/or Suggestions.
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.
You can purchase a wide variety of transparent document holder sleeves from StoreSMART.com
Process Observation Point
A Team Accountability Board often doubles as a 'Process Observation Point' or 'Visual Observation Station':
A designated place to easily observe 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
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|
<Brief, compelling vision statement that almost never changes>
See guidelines for how to phrase your Strategic Challenge
Achieve by: <date>
See online training
See online training
PDCA Cycles Record
See online training
Obstacles Parking Lot
of things that you
(You focus on only
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).
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.
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
Bookmark = Reading
Suggested Reading and Resources for
Visual Management Systems
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