Making our work flows and daily metrics visible is a key to implementing lean and getting our team involved. We want to make our workplace more visual so it is easy to see how we are going. It also highlights problems or errors so they are easy to detect; once we discover problems we can take steps to fix them. If we can’t fix it ourselves, we need to signal for help.
The challenge with implementing visual metrics is getting agreement as to what we need to know and how best to display this information. So often we forget that not everyone knows what we know or reacts to information the same way. defining our visual metrics must consider how to share information and how to respond to it – remember a metric or data collected and not acted is WASTE!
The first step in creating a visual workplace is deciding on what information is needed. Before declaring that everything is important, consider the top few things that really matter to each area. The visual metrics may need to be on different levels for different areas; what’s needed at the shop floor may not be needed at supervisor level. So consider the hierarchy of information.
Put yourself in the place of an operator – how do I know if I’ve had a good day? What are my targets for today? (or this hour or this week; whichever is appropriate for your business) Have I met them? If not, why not and what do I need to do to fix it? What’s coming up next at I need to get ready for?
Put yourself in the place of the supervisor – how do you know if your team has had a good day? Do they need my help to meet their targets? Which of the problems that arose could have been prevented?
Continue through all level of your organisation. This will create a Line-of-sight hierarchy of metrics.
The challenge, of course, is how to get started. Pick just one or two key issues that are bemoaned every day and focus on them first. Decide on how to measure the problem, document it each day and add it into your daily team meeting agenda. Stick to it for three to four weeks and then re-evaluate progress – has the metric improved? If not, review how the information is being collected and how actions are being assigned to improve performance.
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