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Last updated: 08.11.18

Why is visual management so important?

Visual management may not be something that you’ve heard of, but it’s an increasingly recognised element of workplace success. In short, it’s all about using visual aids to help communicate in such a way that different people can easily understand what they’re looking at without necessarily having any prior knowledge. When you realise what visual management is, you’ll understand that it’s something that has always been used, and you’ll most likely encounter it every single day in the workplace. By the end of this article, you’ll understand exactly what visual management is, and the benefits it can bring.

What are the Main Principles and Benefits?

The whole idea of visual management is that we, as humans, are far better at understanding and interpreting a situation visually than any other way. The more information we can gather from a situation quickly, the more efficient we can be, and the best way of doing this is by presenting people with visual cues wherever possible. This can be with colours, with symbols, with graphics. The key is that they’re easier to understand than text, and you don’t always need to understand complicated context for these cues to make sense.

Incorporate this into the workplace, and you can make processes much quicker and more efficient. There are benefits aside from speed too. Accuracy is very important to ensure that processes are carried out properly, and again visual cues ensure that a person has gathered the information correctly as well as quickly.

Visual Management in Practice

Sometimes it can be tricky to understand exactly how visual management works in the workplace, so here are three examples to help you understand the concept better.

Our first example is in a manufacturing facility. It is full of machinery and equipment. It’s one person’s job to make regular checks on all of the pieces of machinery to ensure that they’re operating correctly and at the right temperature. Visual management has been considered, so the machines have been fitted with lights that very clearly indicate whether a machine is working at an appropriate temperature. This allows the employee to see very quickly if there’s a problem.

Our second example is in a fast food restaurant. It’s important that all food leaving the kitchen looks just like it does on the menu, meets the brand standards and the customers’ expectations. The manager recognises the value of visual management, so she has placed posters in the kitchen that show exactly how each product should look. Food preparation staff can then check their work against this visual cue very quickly to see if they’ve got it right.

Our third and final example takes place in a hospital. Waste from a hospital is very different from most businesses, and correct disposal is essential. As a result, all bins in hospitals have colour-coded labels, complete with symbols stating what they can contain. This allows staff to quickly identify the correct bin to use for each type of waste. Even those who are not fully familiar with the process will be able to see if they’re using each bin in the right way.

There are many more examples of good visual management in practice, and you’ll undoubtedly already have some already in use in your business or workplace.

Introducing Visual Management to the Workplace

Bringing visual management consideration into the workplace isn’t particularly difficult and in many ways will be seen as common sense. It can bring many benefits, as already discussed.

Have a think about all of the times in which there has been communication confusion within the business, or processes in which employees have to quickly interpret important information. Could these situations be improved by introducing visual cues? They can be introduced alongside your current system, or replace it. One of the best ways to identify areas in which visual management can be applied is to speak to employees. Where do they think that visual cues could be brought in that might help them do their job more efficiently and effectively?

If you’d like more information about this subject so that you can bring in the benefits to your business, then consider taking our visual management online course. Covering workplace organisation training, as well as how visual management fits in with lean principles, it could be a valuable piece of training.