Takeaway: Glass wall management is necessary for accountability, and engagement. It keeps the entire team on task and confident. Lack of glass wall management can lead to deception and misuse of authority positions for self-gain.
“Glass wall management,” also called visual management refers to how information within a company is shared. Key Performance Indicators are visual for all to see. We want to make essential information visible and the focus of attention. This will have a big impact on behavior.
Glass Wall Management Affects Behavior
Companies are performance driven. We continually review the performance of areas that affect our business. We monitor:
- Customer satisfaction
- Equipment utilization
- Tasks on schedule and time invested, Etc.
The better employees understand performance in these areas, the more effort they will place on improving them. We are competitive by nature but need information and guidance to focus efforts and provide feedback.
I think back to a time when I was a mechanic in a large factory, and our department had just started posting production information for everyone to see. Each week we posted two new graphs on a wall, very visible to everyone. The first chart showed our production yield and the second displayed scrap rates. At the end of each shift, we were to place a dot on the graph showing our yield and scrap numbers.
When we started using these charts, our yield went up, and scrap went down. We cared more because our efforts were now visible. This affected our behavior. We became much more attentive to our processes, not wanting to record poor numbers for all to see. We became a stronger team by helping each other when we saw negative trends on the graphs.
Why Implement Glass Wall Management?
Benefits from Visual Management:
- Creates a sense of urgency
- Disclosure of information builds a team mindset
- Builds trust leading to loyalty
- Eliminates camouflage leading to misuses of authority
- Focuses resources; we see our efforts affect outcome
In sporting events, we place large scoreboards where everyone can see them. The boards create a sense of urgency as the players and fans see all relevant information such as the score, and available time left. We wouldn’t think of hiding a sports scoreboard, yet we do it at work. Information needed to drive behavior is nowhere in sight. The grapevine replaces management as the primary source of information.
When key performance indicators such as production yield, equipment up-time, scrap rates, etc. are constantly visible, they create a sense of urgency and increase engagement. We connect effort to the outcome.
We tend to hate asking for help or point out a problem or issue. Glass wall management can help with this. When downward trends begin, support should be immediately offered where needed. Lead mechanics, supervisors, and coworkers can (Should be trained to) help as they see the need arise. No more having a problem persist for extended periods of time only to find out too late after extensive damage is done.
Response time can become another metric to measure. Watch it improve through your use of strong visual management.
Healthy Systems need Visual Management
All systems rely on accurate data. This becomes the information shared for business growth and sustainment.
Here on our Nektar Data website, many of our posts refer to the importance of collecting good data (information) that is needed for driving performance. Imagine collecting the data your company needs for driving performance and not sharing it with stakeholders? Employees need the right information to focus efforts.
Information to a workforce is like oxygen in our blood. The more oxygen-rich our blood is, the healthier we are. We need information rich shop floors, construction sites, etc. Cut the blood flow off to any part of your body, and it dies, so too with information flow. Healthy companies are proactive when it comes to sharing information needed for ongoing success.
The lack of glass wall management can create opportunities for deception. If we are aware of poor decisions being made behind closed doors by self-serving government officials and high-level executives, we can speak up. When information is not easily found or openly shared, we wonder why and mistrust sets in.
We connect openness with honesty and integrity. We love open door policies and access to information without layers of red tape and bureaucracy. This tells us we are valued and informed.
Putting it all Together
Information drives behavior. What information do you need? What information does your workforce need? How about information for your customers and suppliers? What’s your current condition? We want to create dynamic tension by having an accurate picture of where we are and where we need to be. Answering these questions will tell us what data we need to collect, translate into information and share.
Invest the time necessary with your team to identify important key performance indicators. An archer needs a target; a ship needs a harbor to head to and a plane needs a flight plan. Once goals are set, plans are made, we can determine the data we need. The well displayed data will create our dynamic tension and sense of urgency. Out of sight, out of mind; let’s keep important information in sight and on the mind.
Use well-placed bulletin boards as scoreboards. Place important information in clear view and make use of visuals such as charts and graphs when needed. Update often as required for driving the correct behavior. We don’t want to burden employees with the unnecessary work of frequently updating a bulletin board.
We do not want people searching for relevant performance information. The goal is to identify critical information for driving performance and creating strong visuals for sharing with all stakeholders.
We need to invest in information sharing. Consider enhancing your visual information with:
- Toolbox meetings
- Town Hall meetings
- Employee virtual bulletin board
- Designating an information officer
We are creating proactive info sharing. Information that does not capture attention is information not used. Build your business scoreboard and give your team the data needed to focus effort and drive success.