I just submitted my paper to be a speaker at the PMI Global Congress on the topic of Visual Management Systems (VMS). Some may know VMS as VCS (Visual Control Systems). In agile team work areas, you can see a VMS represented by a Kanban, burndown charts, or countless other representations. According to Wikipedia, visual control is a technique employed in many places where information is communicated by using visual signals instead of texts or other written instructions. The design is deliberate in allowing quick recognition of the information being communicated, in order to increase efficiency and clarity. In the Toyota Way, it is also known as mieruka (making visible). I love the wild and endless variety of real world mieruka!
The other day, I was driving through a school zone when something caught my attention. It wasn’t a police officer yelling at cars to slow down. It wasn’t a “Slow Children at Play” sign. It was a speed limit sign with a radar speed sign attached to it. On the top you see the proposed speed limit and on the bottom you see the actual. It wasn’t snapping pictures of people speeding passed. To the contrary, all it was doing was bringing attention to actual vehicle speeds. As I wrestled to get my speed below 25MPH, I was amazed how well it worked. Everyone around me slowed their vehicles down, with no more coercion than knowing their speed through real-time visualization control.