By Christina Villefrance Moeller, TalesOfLeading
Degas gave this answer to a colleague who eagerly told him, that he had just found his method. It was not envy leading to Degas’ answer. Degas was actually happy that he had not yet found his method in art and therefore he was still experimenting with different techniques, being open and curios in expressing the world as he remembered it. He did not copy what he saw as many other impressionists at his time. He wanted to find what his memory had recorded influenced by fantasy.
Visual boards as concepts
I was recently reminded of Degas answer when I visited a company who have been working with Lean for more than a decade. I’m sure they had been very serious about their improvement work. However, many of the visual boards followed the same (consultancy) concept, I have seen in dozens of companies (and not just in Denmark). They have the same structure with green and red fields for placing the KPI-graphs. In one department I saw another way of doing it and wondered if they were experimenting or just trying out another concept. Unfortunately, no one present was able to answer me.
- When was the last time you adjusted the structure of your visual board?
Copy first can be ok
There is nothing wrong with copying others when you start working with visual boards. Actually, it would be very wise to visit and learn from other companies experience. Degas also learned from the traditional artists. You would also need to use the concept for some time to understand the purpose and how it works. Then having the experience, you can start experiment and improve your board. It is time to use your own imagination and fantasy. What works and doesn’t work when you aim at the purpose? A company I visited some years ago realized as they were moving the office to another location, that their planning board was one of the most important things to get up running first. They realized they had build in so much into their system, that they wore not able to work without it. Still it was not perfect.
- Are you able to work without your visual board?
An element in a system
Having a daily huddle by the board can sometimes look like a small theatrical play with actors more or less able to fulfill their part. They might try to do it right and it sure is difficult the first few times you try. The absurdity will emerge if the purpose remain doing what you are supposed to do and not what you feel a need for. If it was a soccer game, the board would show the score of the match. You and your team can all see and agree on the score. Does it tell you how to adjust your play? To answer that question, you would need other statistics indicating whether you have a problem in offence or in defense. And have you practiced combinations, that could help you? The visual board is an element in your working system and it must interact with the other elements to be effective.
- How is your board linked to other elements in your working system?