The lost runner (or, how not to go about Visual Management)

Tragedy of a lost runner (or, how not to go about Visual Management)

The other day, I went for a run in Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. It’s in the heart of Greensboro, NC, which I’ve called home for many years. I know my way around the city and its parks, so the last thing I expected was to get lost. Within an hour, though, I’d hit a low point. Trapped in a maze of ambiguous road signs, I briefly thought I had to set up camp and spend the night in the middle of nowhere.

As I contemplated my potential fate, I realized this was a story worth telling (provided I’d emerge from the wilderness in one piece). For I was looking at a perfect example of how not to go about Visual Management.

Hurled into the unknown

The day began beautifully. I got up early, prepared for my workout, and left the house in good spirits. When I arrived at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, I studied the map that outlines a bunch of hiking trails. Each has a color of its own, so you can’t go wrong. Or, that’s what I thought.

I picked a trail and made my way into the park. I had about one hour, so I opted for a 45-minute run — just to make sure I’d be back on time.

Long story short: that didn’t happen. The deeper I got into the park, the more confusing the road signs became. Colors popped up randomly, providing what I thought to be ambiguous instructions. Soon, the lack of clear hiking trails had hurled me into the unknown.

I found the exit just before darkness fell, though the signs weren’t helpful. I had to rely on my sense of direction (and perhaps my survival instinct: I did not particularly look forward to spending the night among rattling and crawling creatures).

All’s well that ends well. But I’ll probably avoid the park in the next few months. Or, more likely, years.

Getting clarity on your ‘road signs’

To put a positive spin on the experience, I’ll briefly share the Visual Management lesson it taught me.

When devising an information sharing strategy, don’t just focus on the data you want to convey. Consider your communication method, too. Make sure you involve employees in the process, as they can provide clarity on your ‘road signs’ — or, how you present data on communication boards. It’s a prerequisite for making your Visual Management efforts successful.

This is exactly what we do during our business workshops: we make sure everyone is on the same page from the get-go. Want to know more about our approach or explore your Visual Management opportunities? Please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to perform a Quick Scan and discuss your information sharing strategy.

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