There are three outcomes that define success as you and your colleagues convert your area to visuality.
The first thing you want as a result of implementing visuality in your area is a Visual Showcase—a work area where you have drilled deep to make operational details visual. The way I like to say it is: one-foot square, one-mile deep. A work area that has reached the showcase level informs all of us what a well-developed visual work environment looks like and how it functions. When we visit such a showcase, our own eyes tell us why visuality is important. Newcomers and visitors see it too and understand—as well as people from areas in the facility that are not yet visual.
As each area makes its way to the showcase level, it’s important to be able to see visuality’s positive impact in terms of trackable, bottom-line results. Management usually takes the lead in making this happen since tangible proof of return on investment is one of their main measures.
In due course, the benefits of visuality must positively impact your performance measures. You may know these as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). As your visual rollout gains momentum, look for improvement in them. Here’s how you or your supervisor can do that: collect KPIs just before the visual conversion begins in your area. Continue to do this week-by-week, comparing the actual results as you go along. You should see a positive drift in your KPIs within six to nine weeks of launch, sometimes sooner. That steadily increases over time thanks to the visual devices you and others create and the information deficits that dissolve as a result.
Most of us already realize that learning is our life-long job, no matter what company employs us. The third visual workplace outcome targets the conversion of our mind, heart, and beliefs as we convert the work area to visuality.
Continuous improvement is an opportunity to both streamline the physical workplace and help ourselves grow as individuals. As we change the process, the process changes us and we learn what works and what doesn’t, what we like and what we don’t like, what we got right and what we got wrong; and, importantly, we learn the difference between demands and preferences. Safety, for example, is always a requirement; we demand it.
When you learn to adopt an attitude of learning in the face of change, you can learn to stay open and bear the discomfort of not knowing the exact result. Over time, you come to accept things about yourself and others, and where acceptance is beyond your reach, be content with tolerance. Whatever my personal preference, I agree to stay open and remember that not all other individuals will be like me. And I will allow myself—and others—to change.
As Gotama, the Buddha, told a student a thousand years ago when she asked how to navigate life’s tricky parts: (1) Show up; (2) Tell the truth; (3) Stay open. That was the Buddha’s way of saying: Adopt an attitude of learning.
These are the three outcomes that tell us if our visual workplace implementation is a success. Which is most important? All three. They are equally vital to your success.