Monday, May 27, 2013

Visual Management Meets the check sheet

Having grown up in the maintenance arena, checklists are a way of life. Mobile equipment requires a walk-around check prior to use. There are periodic inspections on dozers, trucks, graders and loaders with 250 hour, 500 hour and 1000 hour intervals. Fire extinguishers and equipment need to be inspected. This creates a mound of paper to be filed and tracked.

When I went to work in automotive, visual management was king. Cards describing each of the tasks performed in station hang on a peg board and appear RED at the start. As each task is completed, the cards are flipped to the GREEN side. Walking past the station, we have a clear visual indication from the board of the status of the build – just by observing how many RED cards had turned GREEN at a glance. At the completion of all the tasks, a new unit arrives in station and the process is repeated.

This RED/GREEN indication can be carried forward to a monthly calendar that shows the status of defects as the month progresses. Good days are GREEN and not so good days are RED. This visual indicator has been the starting trigger for many valuable discussions and learnings in the Gemba (where the work is done).

In the restaurant industry, I wondered how an opening and closing checklist could be created using this philosophy. In the hotel industry, could room housekeeping checks be verified on a tablet and recorded using this RED/GREEN visual indication? Could the daily liquor counts be verified the same way?

The world is full of check lists – how can we simplify the process. Can we combine hand held technology with visual management and create a checklist application?

If your world is as full of checklists as mine, have a look at

Any other apps that you've run across to manage check lists?

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