Visual management fuels innovation
ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions Switzerland has transformed its processes using visual management techniques. It shows how everyone across the Group could be far more efficient by using these tools.
Visual management is a Lean business management technique that uses instinctive visual cues, instead of text or other written instructions, to share information in simple, easy to digest ways across a workplace.
ASSA ABLOYS’s product innovation department started experimenting with visual management about 10 years ago. They have now had so much success in cutting process times they are now encouraging the rest of the Group to use it.
“We have had some astonishing results using visual management,” says Bengt Johansson, ASSA ABLOY’s Lean Innovation Manager. “It has cut down project throughput time by around 75 per cent.”
The initial aim was to use visual management for all projects within product development, Bengt adds.
But if you can use it for one project, why not use it across departments or even the whole company.
Visual management is essentially a communications tool, and can therefore be used by anyone who needs to communicate information or manage processes. At ASSA ABLOY’s Keso manufacturing site in Switzerland, for example, visual management is used in many areas including sales and marketing.
Keso’s way of working
“Some ASSA ABLOY sites are already using visual management,” says Bengt. “But the goal is for everyone to use it. Keso are setting the benchmark though. They are really good at using it. So we have made a video (available above) about them to show others how they could benefit from using visual management.”
It clearly shows how visual management makes processes transparent and how everyone can see what the end goal is, what is being done to get there and who needs to do it. Keso use visual management to track tasks as well as share knowledge. As a result, they have a fully communicating company, from the factory floor right through to management, which ultimately helps individuals find solutions.
Visual management helps make communication more direct and therefore helps speed things up
“Visual management is not about information, it is about two way communication,” says Bengt. “And as we all know, communication is the key to success. Visual management helps make communication more direct and therefore helps speed things up. You can use it to visualize any process and see what’s actually happening and where the problems are.”
“That helps you to solve problems.”