Lean-oriented people are aware of the power of visual controls and systems. Charts, metrics, andon lights, and even the simple act of going to the gemba. But have you considered the subliminal value or impact of your visual methods? From the Wall Street Journal,
You don’t need to be a Mac owner to be a cutting-edge hipster. Just thinking about Apple Inc. can make you more creative.
That’s according to researchers at Duke University and the University of Waterloo, who found that exposing people to a brand’s logo for 30 milliseconds will make them behave in ways associated with that brand. In Apple’s case, that means more creatively, said Gavan Fitzsimons, one of the Duke professors who conducted the study.
30 milliseconds. So I wonder what hours and days and weeks of staring at visual symbols and cheesy art on the walls of most factories will do. But back to the study.
Mr. Fitzsimons and his colleagues wondered if the exposure resulted in behavioral changes that didn’t show up on the balance sheet.
To find out, they exposed subjects to imperceptible images of brand logos for Apple and IBM, among others. Surveys found that people felt similarly about the two companies in every way except creativity, where Apple cam out ahead, and competence, which was IBM’s perceived strength. After exposing them to the brands, the researchers asked subjects to describe as many uses for a brick as they could.
The Apple-primed subjects averaged 30% more answers and independent reviewers also deemed their answers more creative. It’s harder to measure competence, but Mr. Fitzsimons says that IBM-primed subjects had strikingly uniform answers.
So… now the question is how to use this newfound knowledge for good instead of evil. Do you place subtle Apple logos throughout your R&D areas or in your Kaizen rooms? Or IBM logos in your board rooms?
Or perhaps it’s time to take a hard look at your own logo… and visual controls in general. They may be having more of an impact than you imagine.