Dec 7 – Global Awareness looking through a narrow window? Nah!


“But the plans were on display …”

“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

“That’s the display department.”

“With a torch.”

“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”

“So had the stairs.”

“But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard.”

This is short passage from the awesome book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I think this passage represents how many organizations treat information and information about their system of work. Yes, the information is available if you really know where to look and you are not afraid of Leopards.

If we want to improve our organization and how we do work. We need to see the big picture. We need global awareness of how things really are. Having the information trapped in your “filing cabinets” does not really help. You need to make the information visible, visual and available at a glance.

Dig your information out of your “filing cabinets” and have it visible on your walls. Make it available for everyone to see. Make it available at all time so you can see it at a glance.

Most digital work management systems are not designed to show both the big picture and the details at a glance. You most of the time need to zoom in and out, scroll up and down when move between the big picture and the details. This makes global awareness of the bigger system of work really hard to understand. And if we don’t understand how easy is it to improve?

If you use digital displays avoid having them circulating through different screens. Only make changes to what is displayed when something has really changed. Circuiting through multiple screens or continuously refreshing the screen, even when no really new information is available, will make your brain ignore displays. The human visual system is designed to see movement and changes. When we see a movement or change in the corner of our field of view will turn our focus to that movement to evaluate if it is a threat or potential food. But if we repeatedly have movement and there is no threat or potential food we will ignore it. Our brains will filter that movement out. We will not see the information, not even when we really need to.

When create Visual Management systems I try to have it answer these questions:

  1. What is the work that’s being done here?image.png
  2. How should work be done?
    • What is the process?
    • What is normal/expected?
  3. How are problems shown?
    • What is NOT normal/expected?
    • What is preventing work to flow?
  4. How does everyone know what to do?
  5. Are the business results being achieved?

You can download my Visual Management card with these question from here.

This is my Lean/Agile Advent Calendar. I will publish a short post on a Lean/Agile topic every day up until Christmas. I will based each days topic on what is behind the door in the LEGO® City Advent Calendar.  So be sure to check back every day!

DISCLAIMER: LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group, which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this post and blog in any way.

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