When Visual Controls Go Bad

While this picture is a piece of artwork it made me think what your organization can look like if you view Lean only as a set of tools.  Losing the perspective of your system can easily lead to creation of complex and unusable solutions like this traffic light. 

 When I look at this traffic light tree, I picture one team adding one of the lights, then another team comes along and adds a light for their use, then a management team adds a third light to summarize what the other two teams lights represent, then more teams continue to add their light for their own use, and so forth.  While a new light may be a solution for each group individually, the net result is a confusing and unusable tool for the system.

When you set out to improve things, think about the needs and impacts to the system.  Take the time consider all options before acting.  It is not true improvement if you optimize one area but the result is sub-optimizing another.

Keep on improving!

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Filed under Business, Change Management, Consulting, humor, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Productivity, Visual Systems, Waste

3 responses to “When Visual Controls Go Bad

  1. I think you will also find a number of visuals or signs that just don’t get to the root cause of situation either. That is the essence of BeMoreCareful.com, a project Mark Graban and I support. We need to be mindful of the reason a visual is used. Does it serve a purpose or need. If it doesn’t address the problem it can be more like wallpaper.

  2. Your BeMoreCareful site Tim is great!

    Good point on how many do not address the root cause. I have seen some where they do not even show what is normal or abnormal!

  3. Great picture! I’ll plan to use this in one of my kaizen events to demonstrate the importance of working together. We all want to do help out with improvements, but if each person independently pushes their own idea, we’re left with a a whole bunch of great ideas that may be diametrically opposed, like your picture.

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