Improving the Invisible and Other Magic Tricks

I’m a wizard. How cool is that? I actually heard of a guy in a large pharmaceutical company whose job title was “Innovation Wizard”. I’m extremely envious. I asked my boss a few weeks ago if I could change my job title to “Quality Mage” she said she would consider it and walked off, I think she will go for it. I am digressing a little.

So we all know there is no such thing as magic, right? Only a magician can see the invisible and therefore as magic doesn’t exist neither do magicians and therefore no one on earth can see the invisible. The best they can do is take a guess as to what is there. They might be right on the very odd occasion, meaning they are pretty much always wrong.

With the above premise in mind lets turn our attention to improvement activities in your organisation. How, might it be best to discover the invisible (problems) in order that they can be attacked the organisation can improve? That’s right, visualisation.

Visualisation is important on many levels, to go into it in the detail it really requires would require a book and I am already busy writing my first one so that will have to wait. So let us check some of the initial points to consider:

  • Your visualisation should start in your 5S implementation. I get a massive hard-on for 5S, it is just that sexy. The second “S” SET is where you form the basis of your visual factory or office. The Japanese word for SET is literally translated to english as orderliness. This step is much more than mere orderliness however. We should ignore the literal translations and take into account what the meaning behind it is. The premise of the visual factory is that it should be obviously by simply observing the process being executed where deviations and waste are. A simple example; if I have a shadow board for my tools (a weak 5S solution by the way) I can instantly see if something is missing and exactly what that thing that is missing is. Compare that to going through a tool box with a checklist of the items that should be in it. Yep you got it, much better! I could go further into this but I don’t want you to fall asleep.
  • Visual mapping of anything will show you where to focus your improvements. A high level value stream map, process map, 5S map, spaghetti diagram, Q-Map. Create one of these and you will instantly find the areas where you need to focus first to drive improvements. It is that simple. Don’t kid yourself that it is more complicated. Your organisation is not at that level where it is not obvious at this level. If it was, you wouldn’t be wasting your time reading this blog because you already know everything I am saying. Yes of course you will need to dig a little deeper to understand cause so you make the correct improvements but the opportunities are obvious. Example; if I do a value stream map and I cannot define my levels of stock at a point, that is a problem that needs a solution. It is a clear demonstration of my process not being in control.
  • Visualisation is essential for collaboration, team work, participation and transparency. All those things are good, aren’t they. I want them all to be as seamless as possible, second nature even, in my organisation. Throw out the powerpoints! Get out your white boards, paper rolls, post-its, marker pens, A3 reports. Never write a word when a picture will do better. Practice everyday and your organisation will be communicating in a way you would have never thought possible. If I do a value stream map in excel it is buried in a hard drive somewhere and I have to make a conscious decision to share it with others. If it is in the corridor of the office or on the factory floor with all its different coloured post-it notes on, people are going to look at it. I don’t need to do anything. Effortless communication. If you wanted to advertise your business, you wouldn’t spend a fortune creating the advert and then leave it on your desktop as a video file would you!

I hope these points have given you some view of why I think visualisation is so essential to any organisation. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me I am happy to help where I can.



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