Underperforming processes and people can cause festering frustration in organisations, often boiling over into blaming, backstabbing, bemoaning, and belittling of people. This instability in processes, and poor staff performance (including management), often leads to more quality checks, additional process steps (like multiple sign-offs), as we don’t trust the process, materials/suppliers, equipment, or the people within that process.
This complexity is the opposite of KAIZEN™ where we need to make things easier, better, faster and cheaper as Shigeo Shingo taught us. Although the intention is to improve quality, the overall process performance is often further compromised through increased lead times, higher cost, and dwindling staff motivation. And so another snowball of Muda (waste) starts its destructive journey to deplete customer value, and ultimately, the existence of our product, service and organisation.
One of the root causes to these problems can often be found in the lack of the transparency and clarity. Visual management helps us to identify our problems and better understand our situation before we apply solutions to it. It helps us to see our targets and our performance against those targets.
Michael Ballé states it well: “We see together, so that we know together, think together and act together.” If our team can’t see a problem in the first place, how will we know about its root causes and its effect on our people, performance, product, and service to the customer? By “seeing” problems and inefficiencies, we can “think visually” (display our improvement ideas and plans). We also need to see how we are progressing with implementing our solutions and need to verify (also in a visual way) if our solutions achieved the desired results. Once we are convinced that the situation is better, we should create visual standards to manage our performance against the improved way.
When our team is managed in a visual way, we reduce the blaming and shaming. Why?
· It is more objective and minimises poor perceptions and negative emotions.
· It brings ownership and engagement when performance is below par.
· It creates pride when things are going well.
· It raises the performance bar, disciplining us to think of better ways to do our work.
· It doesn’t attack people, rather the problems in the process.
· The disciplined use of visual management creates new habits; foundational to a sustained KAIZEN™ culture.
· It creates an uplifting team spirit and improves staff morale over time.
· At a stage management will realise, through the art of reflection, that for visual management to succeed, it must be based on respect for people.
Visual management of our information and activities can reduce the blame-game and associated staff disengagement, and lift the performance of our processes and the people within those processes.
Can you think of any other reasons how visual management can minimise the blaming and shaming culture in an organisation?