Improving Your Business with Visual Management: What You Need to Know

For most people, visual arrangement of information and presentation is a shared language. Whether we identify as “visual people” or not, it’s usually quicker and easier for us to conceptualize information quickly with a pie chart than to sift it out of a page of text. In running a business, you can use this same concept to leverage more productivity and efficiency from both yourself and your employees. In order to make your company a lean operation, consider the following ways to integrate visual management into your business model.

Keeping Score

Safety Scoreboard Example
By LeanCEO

Setup a “scoreboard” in the office in a place that’s easily visible to everyone, this can be a whiteboard, a large flat screen TV, or even a wall written on with dry erase markers – use your imagination. Your scoreboard should keep track of various goals and deadlines that are important to your company. Be sure to include both long and short term objectives, and separate these – organize your scoreboard in a way that will make sense to those looking at it, and make sure information can be conveyed at a glance.

What to Include

First of all, make sure that employees can get an overview of the current situation. It’s important to know where everything stands. Before knowing what you have left to accomplish, everyone has to know what’s been done. This can also help eliminate redundancy if someone is spending time on something that is either already done or being done, and just didn’t know it.

Naturally, knowing what is yet to be done comes next on your scoreboard. This can also be a place to put goals and tangible figures; details that might need a slight bit of analysis (more than a quick glance at the board) are OK to put here, but still keep it simple! Along with goals generally come time-lines, so be sure to include these. This can help you know if you’re ahead of schedule, falling behind, or on an even keel.

Keep your scoreboard current and clean, and you’ll be able to see when abnormalities arise that need addressed. The same concept applies: It’s much easier to see in an organized, visual format when something breaks pattern than when its buried in an Excel spreadsheet or a wall of text. This is not only good for you, but it benefits your employees as well.

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It should always be your goal to move your business closer and closer to being as efficient as it can possibly be, also known as a “lean” business model. Visual communication is the bread and butter of efficiency; it’s the quickest language we all learn to speak. Developing structure through memos, written procedures, and the like isn’t necessarily ineffective, but it means you’re bypassing a simpler means of accomplishing the same ends.

Don’t let the methods described here give you tunnel vision. There are lots of other ways to incorporate visual communication into the daily life of an office. What can you come up with?