Those of us in the lean world know the power of visual controls to convey information, metrics, and methods. But can the design of the visual control itself directly impact performance? Take a look at how logos and mascots have been redesigned for various NFL teams… and the results.
Obviously the mascot change itself was not the sole contributor to each team's turnaround… or was it? And similarly the last thing we want is to associate "lean" with "mean" any more than it already has been.
But perhaps we should take another look at those signs, metrics, andons, and such to ensure the design also conveys our intent. Are we consistent in what an upward-sloping graph means? Are colors, especially red and green, used to convey the same urgency positive or negative?
My old employer, a $10B company at the time, actually revised all of it's financial, QA, and operational reports to ensure that any negative number meant "bad." It cost a bunch of money and headaches to implement and it seems silly, especially to those of us used to reading numbers in parentheses being "good" in several circumstances such as a "decrease in NCMR's", but the impact on the rest of the organization was unexpectedly large and impressive. Everyone at all levels immediately understood that if they saw a negative number, it needed attention. Multiply that by thirty or forty thousand people and you create some real change and value.