The 3 Essentials of a Lean Visual Management Board

What is a Visual Management Board?

If takt time is the heart of Lean production, then Visual Management represents the nervous system in Lean management. Visual Management is an essential tool when we implement Lean. Visual Management helps to amplify the impact of Lean management by visually building a bridge between Lean tools and Lean management.

Ferguson Plarre Bakers conducting a daily stand up meeting reviewing the past days’ performance.

Some common types of Visual Management in the workplace include:

Most companies have Visual Management Boards, which is one of the simplest formats of Visual Management. I often find that some so-called “Visual Management Boards” actually are “show boards”, which only show the information, records or plans and lack interaction with readers. What’s worse, the content of them is often out of date.


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How to Identify If Your Visual Management Board Really Works? – The 31 Second Rule

A real Visual Management Board should contain three elements: standards, problems, and actions.

  • Standard: In Lean, we set target performance as the standard, rather than average performance.  The standards should be clearly indicated on the board, which tells how things should be if everything is perfect.
  • Problem: What is the problem? Problem is the deviation from standard, either actual performance (e.g. lower than target), or the standard itself (improper target); One operations manager in an ice-cream factory told me that there’s no need for improvement as their efficiency is more than 120% every day. After my observation, actually, they had twice the number of operators than was needed on the production line.
  • Actions: Countermeasures to a problem should be taken when there’s a problem. A Visual Management Board without action is definitely just a show board. How effectively the problems are addressed, and the actions are carried out, represents how efficient your organisation is

All these elements help the user to understand what’s actually going on in the work area. Only by making the things visible, it is possible to identify the deviations (problems) and quickly address and solve them.

Read our guide to Visual Management Tools.

Windsor Caravans employee standing in front of their shell team daily visual management board.

What Does a Good Visual Management Board Look Like?

At TXM, we believe that a good Visual Management Board should match the 31-second rule:

  • In 1 second, it can tell us if it’s normal (everything is fine in the work area), according to the standards (target or plan); The work area should “talk” to you in simple terms. Usually, companies use green to represent good status (e.g. hit the target, on time), and use red to represent problem status (e.g. lower than the target, delayed);
  • In 10 seconds, it tells us what the problem is and if it’s not normal.
    At TXM, we use magnetic concern strips to record and manage problems.;
  • In 20 seconds, it tells us what action is to be taken, who is responsible for this and what support is needed. Problems without actions, or actions without checks, are a waste to have on the board!


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A suitable Visual Management Board will help communicate between users and viewers and make the Lean Daily Leadership Process more efficient and effective. The form of the Visual Management Board is limited only by your imagination! Contact TXM to make your Visual Management more efficiently and effectively.

Timothy McLean

Author: Timothy McLean

Timothy McLean is the Managing Director of TXM Lean Solutions and is an author of Lean books.