Lots of things in this life are about building bridges. As usual, we can find plenty of proof in nature. Here’s what ants can teach us about devising a solid information sharing strategy.
If you get ants, you’ll get data filtering
Ants are no loners. They operate in crowds. When we see them, we can’t separate one from another. But they can. Each ant has its own specific task. When they want to cross a brook as a group, they join hands (or, rather, legs) and get to work: they build a bridge. It’s quite the feat, and some ants die during the process. But they help their fellow ants get to the other side, which is the whole point of the operation.
Now, let’s have a look at a different type of ‘swarm:’ data. Each piece of information is like an ant — it’s important to the whole, but you can’t possibly save everything. To implement Visual Management effectively, you need to build a bridge between your ocean of raw data and your employees who require the right information to make independent decisions. Only actionable, real-time data is worth sharing. If you want to bridge the gap, you should accept that some data must perish. That will benefit your business operations, as you’ll provide people with information that helps them optimize processes in real time.
Selecting the ants that should cross the bridge
When helping our customers set up an information sharing strategy, we adopt a thorough approach. During business workshops, we ask a lot of questions. After we’ve collected answers from across the organization, we determine which data is actionable, hands-on, and topical. Only that type of information is relevant.
Some data might seem important to employees but really isn’t. For example, why display information about a call center’s service level when they’re busy handling calls? It’s much more useful to juxtapose the number of calls in the queue and the number of agents currently available. That will allow employees to take immediate action.
This approach may lead to process optimization and significant savings. For instance, a business workshop with our customer RRS pointed out that employees had no real-time insight into the number of calls that were forwarded to the (costly) overflow, so they couldn’t adjust on the fly. A solid information sharing strategy has helped this company minimize the overflow.
Want to explore your Visual Management opportunities? Please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be happy to perform a Quick Scan and discuss your information sharing strategy.