Lessons from a barber: embrace a color-based system

Lessons from a barber: embrace a color-based system

What can a visit to the barber teach us about Visual Management? Here’s what I learned while getting my hair in shape.

Using colors to work more efficiently

Now that the era of pandemic haircuts seems to be behind us, I decided it was time to pay a visit to the local barber. After I took a seat, I glanced at an ocean of shaving heads. I asked the employee how he could tell them apart. (I was genuinely interested but also a tadworried about his ability to pick the right one — again, I did not want a pandemic haircut, or anything that looked like it.) He explained to me that shaving heads were organized by color, which means employees never have to go through them one by one to read what’s at the back. They simply cast a glance at the tray and grab the one they need.

When I told my friend in the U.S. about this system, he said his barber had implemented a different color-based system. They assign colors to each customer to remember which tools they’ve used. When the customer returns, the barber logs in and can instantly collect the tools they need to help this particular person. It saves time and prevents those ill-fated haircuts everybody fears!

Time to think in units

As the above example illustrates, communicating in colors pays off. It makes the barber’s life a lot easier. Employees can work in a smooth, efficient, confident way and are therefore happier — which, in turn, makes for happy customers. So, what’s our takeaway here?

Let’s apply this principle to Visual Management. The idea behind a color-based system is that you think in units. You can assign colors to anything so as to help employees process information at a glance. But you will want to go about it the right way. In a customer contact center, for example, you can label all voice-related data blue and all ticket information green. The point is that you should divide information in logical categories, which you can then connect to specific colors so agents will recognize them right away.

Need help to figure this out and implement a solid information sharing strategy? Please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be happy to perform a Quick Scan and discuss your Visual Management opportunities!

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