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Visual management is a concept whose purpose is to facilitate management by making more visual processes, equipments..

The finding

The visual management, Mieruka in Japanese みえるか, is based on the observation that man saves visual data better than any other type of data. A study shows that 93% of the message would be other than verbal1.


The perception of a message is divided into three categories :

  • The verbal at 7% : The meaning of the words
  • The Paraverbal at 38% : This is the tone
  • The visual at 55% : These are expressions of the faces and body language, in other words the visual.


Thus, more than 90% of the message is other than verbal.

The objectives of visual management

Starting from this observation, working on the visual allows:

  • Make it easier to understand a message.
  • Avoid the interpretation of a message.
  • Reduce the time of comprehension.
  • Immediately identify the differences between the actual situation and the normal situation.
  • Better visualize processes and wastes and thus facilitate management.
  • Reassure listeners and other clients during visits.

« Make your workplace a showcase that everyone can easily understand at first glance. In terms of quality, it is a matter of making the defects immediately apparent. In terms of productivity, it is a matter of making progress or delay, measured against a plan, immediately apparent. So the problems will be detected immediately and everyone will be able to set up plans for improvements. »-Taiichi Ohno

Visual management and problem solving

A Japanese researcher, Ryuji Fukuda, shows through his studies that 75% of the problems are due to communication problems. Its representation model is based on the Joharry window.

The Joharry window

The Joharry window is a method of representing communication between two entities. It was created by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in 1960. Moreover, the word “Joharry” is taken from the first letters of the names of its inventors. The Joharry window is used to classify the different information about a person:

  • The information that the person has on itself (public and hidden area).
  • Information that it does not have (blind zone and unknown area).


Public area

Known to me and others

Blind Zone

Known only from other

Hidden area

Known only to me

Unknown area

Unknown to me and others

The FUKUDA model

Fukuda proposes a modification of this model to adapt it to the communication problems of the company. Starting from a defect, Fukuda classifies the sources of the problems according to the Joharry window and gets the following pattern to this template:

Source: J. J. Dahlgaard, K. Kristensen, G. K. Kanji (2007) – Fundametals of Total Quality Management

Interpretation of the FUKUDA model

By correlating the different actors of the company and looking for the causes of the problems, Fukuda identifies 4 specific classes:

  • class I: This does not create any particular defects.
  • class II: the correct method is not applied by any part of the staff although it is known.
  • class III: The Right method is known by some but not by those who have to implement it.
  • class IV: No one knows the method to avoid or solve problems.

By quantifying the problems of classes II, III and IV, FUKUDA arrives at the following figures:

  • 50% of the problems originate in class II.
  • 25% in class III.
  • 25% in class IV.


FUKUDA comes to the conclusion that the majority of defects are not purely technical but come from a lack of communication. They can then be solved by improving internal communication and by having staff adhere to the company’s standards.

Design a visual tool

  1. Define the objective of the project by taking particular care of the target audience: planning, Standard, flowchart…
  2. Use or create a communication standard: color code *, Shape, location…
  3. Define the mode and the place of communication: paper distribution, Panel, rest room, refectory, workshop…
  4. Test the message by making sure that it induces the expected reaction
  5. Spread the message and make sure everyone is aware
  6. Audit regularly on the knowledge and use of visual tools (process of updating, understanding the message…)


* Colors Support Message


Psychological effects

Optical Illusion


Stimulating, incite to violence…

Volume increase, heat effect


Resting, calm nerves

refreshing, remote


Stimulates the nervous system, invites to action and effort

Heat and volume increase printing



Freshness, distance


Restful but depressing

Heat increase, volume decrease



Volume increase

The criteria for a good visual tool

  • Go to basics: only information and indicators of interest to the intended audience and representative of its activity should be posted.
  • be clear and logical: structure information by topic (Day/week, line…)
  • Versatile: Visual management can be everywhere and not only on graphics and communication boards. You can have colored posts, shapes or colors of specific bins…
  • in the right place: The display must be located on a staff crossing.
  • Useful: Develop the display as an animation support and organize the meetings around the visual elements of the Gemba(table…).
  • Alive: communication must be updated regularly to be followed. To do this, you have to define who does what, be updated rather manually than computerized and audit regularly.

Watermelon indicator syndrome

Which employee has never been confronted with the watermelon indicator?

This indicator has the peculiarity of being always green. Used on all types of themes (customer satisfaction, personal performance, result of a project…), it will be in all situations always positive.

Initially, it is due to the fact, that subjected to ever more pressure, the employees began to “rework” The indicators to make them appear positive and avoid problems. Then, over time, we see that more and more often, the indicators do not reflect reality.

For all this type of indicator generates loss of confidence, the increase of problems by the fact that they are no longer seen and the loss of knowledge of reality.

But, it can be useful in a very specific setting. Some indicators are complex to measure reliably, so we wish to be able to display them. With regard to the uncertainty of the measurement, the following color code is used:

  • red in and green outside: We think the indicator is good, however, we cannot be sure.
  • Red out and green in: We think the indicator is not good, however, we cannot be sure.

An example


A customer asks us to deliver 10000 vials of syrup for two weeks. Following a production concern, we are not able to answer them and we offer the customer 5000 vials in 3 weeks and the Supplement 2 weeks later. This one accepts.

If we consider the proposal as an objective, then our indicator will be in the green. However, this does not reflect the fact that we have problems in production

The principle of beer 1664 to build its Powerpoint


One of the principles to build a good PowerPoint, rests on the 1664 beer and is defined as is:

  • 1 Idea by Slide
  • 6 lines per Slide
  • 6 words per line (i.e. 36 words maximum size 18)
  • 4 colors per Slide maxi

Otherwise the beer has too much pressure and is not good.

A simple tool: The Kamishibai 紙芝居

It is a Japanese term meaning “small theatre of paper“. The Kamishibai are at the origin of small cardboard theatres in which cards are scrolled with drawings to tell stories to children.

This system was taken up as part of the visual management. The principle is simple: we create a system of color map to explain for example the sequence of tasks to be performed. On a table, we will have a series of cards with a red side and a green side: Red The task is not yet done, green, the task has been done. So we have at a glance the progress of the operations. We can of course deploy this system to anything we want.

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