The human brain processes visuals significantly faster than text. Smart leaders take advantage of our ability to process and remember visual information and leverage it to get more from all of the continuous improvement practices they oversee.
Visual management can be used to support a culture of improvement and spread success across the organization. By choosing the digital approach to visual management, it is possible to introduce an improvement management system that makes visualization easy and accessible for every employee.
What are the benefits of digital visual management in an improvement culture?
Visual management within a culture of improvement makes it possible for leaders to become aware of problems and roadblocks early. Instead of searching for problems, the energy can be devoted to fixing them.
The right digital visual management technology provides updates in real-time so that there is no lag between when a problem is reported and when the right people are made aware of it. Automatic updates of dashboards mean that managers and supervisors can address small issues before they become big ones. It also eliminates the headaches that multiple versions of spreadsheets almost always cause. With cloud-based digital management, everyone is looking at the same version of the truth.
Visibility from Anywhere, Any Time
Daily huddle meetings are a favorite technique where folks gather around a board that tracks projects for a quick update. The challenge is that you must be present to participate and that leaders who manage multiple teams must walk from place to place or even visit more than one building to get a sense into how much progress is being made. With an online solution, people can actively participate in daily meetings even if they are a remote or traveling worker. Leaders can keep tabs on as many teams as needed without spending their time roaming the halls.
Most people have their hearts in the right place when it comes to improvement, but it can be challenging to keep that work at the top of mind when other priorities come into play. That’s why a visual management solution with workflow including alerts and notifications makes so much sense. The system pulls people back to the matter at hand and alerts the right people when new tasks are added, or due dates are missed.
Support for Continuous Improvement Culture
By providing visibility into improvement efforts and demonstrating the willingness to invest in them, leaders send a clear signal that continuous improvement isn’t just a passing fancy. These tools create a common language around positive change and reinforce the behaviors necessary to reach breakthrough goals.
Some specific improvement techniques are particularly well suited to digital visual management.
We mentioned daily huddle meetings earlier. Physical huddle boards were developed to serve the important purpose of visualizing the progress of improvement projects. At specified intervals, teams gather to discuss opportunities for positive change and work together to remove any impediments to improvement. Conceptually, physical huddle boards have a lot going for them. They visualize work, promote team collaboration, and place a focus on improvement. All good stuff.
However, they are only a snapshot. Digital boards have the advantages of being available to everyone, capturing the history of each improvement, and actively reminding people when they need to take action.
Kanban is a visual management tool that illustrates the flow of work. In Japanese, Kanban means translates to “signboard” or “visual signage.” A Kanban board can visualize any kind of work the flows from one stage to another, such as software releases that move from requirements development through deployment, or patients in a hospital moving from triage to discharge. The goal is to identify and resolve interruptions to the flow or excess work-in-progress. Digital Kanban boards provide real-time updates, ensuring that decisions are made based on the latest data.
Many leaders dedicated to continuous improvement use a practice known as Gemba walks. A Gemba walk involves going to the palace where work is done to show respect and observer. While it is not by default a chart or board, a Gemba walk is an excellent example of visual management. Improvement management software can make Gemba walks more effective by providing a repository for observations and a systematic way of analyzing and implementing changes.
One of the most critical responsibilities of leaders is aligning the organization around the most important strategic goals. It is essential that the goals be clear and that each person understands how their work will contribute to the overarching success of the team. Digital visual management gives leaders the ability to publicize goals and progress.
With modern solutions in place, organizations experience more completed improvement projects, faster cycle times, and increased employee engagement. Achieving goals and assessing the impact of change are simplified, and knowledge builds upon itself. The small price of admission is definitely worth the ride.