Visual Management, what is it and why do we use it?

Visual management utilises instinctive visual cues to convey accurate information in a succinct way. This enables management, employees and customers to receive key information at a glance.

Studies show that people remember as much as 80% of the things they see and do but only remember 10% of the things they hear and only 20% of the things they have read.

Visuality is the process of seeing or looking, but has a clear purpose, is more critical and direction oriented than merely seeing. It applies to our sensory perception and how information can be communicated quickly and effortlessly by using mainly our human sense of sight as well as our other senses. An easy to understand example of visuality and how visual perception relates to the immediate understanding of certain concepts is the white or yellow lines on a road.

Visual Management is about communication
Signs and other visual cues are put in place to help employees and customers make sense of the organisational context or business by merely looking around. Visual Management in the workplace gives structure to the space and enables the easy flow of work processes.
All it takes to understand certain operations is to look around. It is a management system that tries to improve the performance of an organisation or business. Visual Management does this by connecting and aligning the vision of the organisation, its core values, culture and goals with other work place related elements such as management systems and work processes by using human sensory experiences. These stimuli directly engage one or more of our five human senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.

Benefits of Visual Management
Using Visual Management can entice staff to be more creative thinkers. Using Visual Management also means that the environment is constantly communicating with the employees and customers. This can lead to bottom-line improvements as well as improved safety in the organisation. Visual Management also helps with company-wide alignment and unity.
By displaying the current progress of projects for all to see, top management is able to receive progress information every time they look at the display. Not only does this indicate what the progress on each project is, it also indicates to staff what the next steps are as well as how to go about achieving the rest of the project objectives.
Secondly, using Visual Management encourages employee engagement by allowing ownership of goals and creating or increasing motivation among the employees. Visual Management is non confronting in its approach, but it does demand authority and represents the real time factual status of projects. It embeds a culture of continual development and improvement in every aspect of the company.
Thirdly, Visual Management can be used to convey transparency in an organisation. By having it out in the open, no information is hidden. This means that the goals and progress of the project is shared openly and they company is united in achieving these goals.
Visual Management might seem like a foreign concept to grasp, but the application thereof is without a doubt incredibly practical. Visual Management is an easily applied practical concept that could improve everything in a business, from the bottom-line through to overall company morale, overall company safety and transparency.

References:
Tezel, A., Koskela, L. J., Tzortzopoulos. (2009). The Functions of Visual Management. Conference Paper.