Visual Management whiteboard installation for JCB

VMT’s Guide to Visual Management Board Design Pt. 1


At VMT, we have successfully been working with and for our clients to design Lean Visual Management boards that have a positive continuous improvement impact on their businesses. A well designed and implemented Visual Management board communicates if an organisation or team is having a “good or bad day”. It provides a focal point for team meetings and briefs, helping to foster a winning team mentality. We believe that there are crucial elements to Visual Management Board design that can help boost the success of the boards.


  1. Develop the design with the team

Engagement is key to Visual Management board success. To give Visual Management boards the best chance of smooth implementation and long-term prosperity, it is vital that the working teams feel like they have had input into the development and creation – they are invested. When a new way of working is imposed on people, it has a higher chance of creating negativity and suspicion towards it. Time spent jockeying people into keeping a board up to date is better spent completing value-added improvement activity addressing the issues highlighted on Visual Management Boards.


VMT offer our clients the opportunity to receive a full-size paper print of a board design to trial with the working team ahead of the full order for a full Visual Management Board. This gives the team the chance to “red pen” the design and buy into the concept by offering their input.


  1. Simplify the layout

Visual Management board layouts need to be easy to understand. Difficult to interpret company information can effectively become wallpaper as it is always there but never really looked engaged with. Within a short time frame, it should be possible for anyone to interpret where in a business they are standing, what the area is responsible for and how the area is performing. A board stuffed full of graphs might look impressive, but it is unlikely to encourage an organisation’s people to stay up to speed on company performance.


VMT develop Visual Management Board designs with and for our clients’, and we will happily question a design if we think it is possibly trying to pack too much information into one layout.


  1. Drive Continuous Improvement

We are often sent Visual Management Board designs to develop for our clients with an area on the board dedicated to ‘Issues’. This is a great start; however, without some agreed ownership and action triggered by the issue, all that is created is a problem parking area with an ever-increasing list of problems. If the list isn’t cleared, a perception may develop that there is no point raising issues as nothing is ever done about it.


When we see these problem parking areas without ownership and action, we suggest that our client add action (specific & achievable), owner & completion date sections. This keeps issues moving through the problem parking areas and drives continuous improvement.


  1. Keep information relevant

If the information displayed isn’t current, it isn’t relevant. Data from three months ago isn’t reflective of recent performance or trends; things could have gotten significantly better or worse in that time. A few views of a board that hasn’t been recently updated will lose their appeal to attract future opinions from the individual


VMT recommend the use of a ‘Board Owner’ and ‘Last updated’ box in the headline area of the board to serve two primary purposes: Firstly, It gently encourages the owner of the board to keep the board up to date, and secondly, it tells the viewer if it’s worth spending some moments to digest the information on offer. If the last update was a week ago, then the individual might want to wait until a more recent update is shown.


  1. Display positive information

A working team that can see they are performing well against the targets will feel like part of a winning team. However, some successes can’t always be measured with KPI’s and metrics. One-off actions or completed projects can have a fundamental effect on company success but have no visibility. The achievements should be displayed for all to see, reinforcing the winning team philosophy and encouraging workers to implement actions & continuous improvement beyond their day to day work.


By creating a dedicated space to write in individual and team successes manually. These should be acknowledged during stand-up meetings and briefs around the boards. This is particularly beneficial on a team level board where a mix of information such as KPI, trend, and issues is also on display 

Business Principles.

This may be Lean or Continuous Improvement methods or other.  Show your teams how the business “works”.