Insights The visual management to boost the project teams and stay align on the challenges and strategic goals

Visual management enables the commitment and mobilisation of actors to create value

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04/01/2021

Article d'expert

By Christophe Coupé (Director) & Pierre-Louis Bergier (Principal)

article published in RH Info on october 12th 2021

 

As mentioned previously, Lean management is an essential lever for success. In particular, the practice of visual management makes it possible to encourage the commitment and mobilisation of players to create value.

 

 

To make a project a success, it is necessary to be able to align and mobilise all the actors in the long term. Being aligned means understanding the issues at stake and translating them into operational objectives, expected results and then into an action plan. The operational objectives must also be consistent with each other and with the issues at stake. To be mobilised means to contribute actively in order to bring about results, risks and difficulties. It means having the will to make the group progress towards the objectives.

 

Alignment and mobilisation must be maintained throughout the project, reviewed and adapted to take account of changes and contingencies. To say this is to understand why project management is a difficult exercise, which requires a combination of managerial skills and effective methods, including visual management.

 

The visual to see

In visual management, there is ‘visual’. This means that the information is presented on panels, which are treated in an order, one after the other. This makes it possible to go through the different axes of analysis and sharing of the project: voice of the customer, product, actions, continuous improvement and team life.

 

It is in a visual way that the issues are expressed in the panels, particularly in terms of the voice of the customer, the product and the actions. This information related to the issues is seen, reviewed, discussed and shared regularly, which allows them to be challenged (content, positioning over time and consistency). Without this visibility and regular analysis, it is difficult, on a complex project, to understand the coherence of actions and choices and therefore for a manager to fully play his role as leader.

 

The ritual for looking together

It is not enough to make things visual. You have to share them. In visual management, the signs are analysed and updated in a structured meeting. Everyone knows how often the panels are visited and how much time the team spends on them. Each person plays a role: leading the exchange, ensuring the panel is updated, being the timekeeper, actively listening, etc. The appropriation of these rules of the visual path gives rhythm, brings value to all and reduces the loss of time: each participant has prepared the meeting and all the subjects are addressed (results, risks, difficulties, questions, decisions, etc.).

 

All this is only possible if each participant adopts the right posture, especially the management team, which, by its exemplary nature, will instil the necessary postures: discipline, acceptance of problems, the right to make mistakes, transparency, active contribution, field visits, etc. The project manager must use his or her coaching skills and accompany the team in the use and adaptation of visual management.

 

An effective ritual (constructed and adjusted by the team) and postures adopted by all create a climate of trust and security. The project leader can then easily mobilise individual and collective intelligence to keep the project aligned with the objectives[1].

Transparency in the service of the collective

To be mobilised, you need to have confidence. To be aligned, you need to have the right information. The Lean manager acts as a coach, so that everyone can share their information in a transparent way : being able to express themselves and bring their positive or negative information to the group, in complete serenity, without fear of judgement from their peers or the manager. By creating such transparency and the right to make mistakes, the manager ensures the conditions for having a precise and reliable vision of reality and therefore for making the right decisions at the right time, or for building the right directions with the teams

 

Collective decision-making

 

A decision taken within the framework of visual management is by nature a collective decision. Indeed, everyone has heard the explanation of the others, their points of view, expressed in complete transparency. Everyone has therefore understood the point of view of the other players and their difficulties. From then on, the decisions taken are assimilated and assumed. The actions carried out afterwards are generally in line and consistent with the decisions; they see their closure more certain.

 

 

A balance between on-site and remote

 

As remote working becomes more widespread, the team needs to adjust its practices and adapt the ritual. Our experience shows that panels related to the voice of the customer, the product and continuous improvement are best shared physically. Everything related to mobilisation (action plan, team life) can be partially handled remotely[2].

 

 

An essential leader to federate energies

 

In conclusion, we would like to emphasise the roles of management and the executive team, which will enable the full benefits of visual management to be reaped. The first role is that of coach: helping the team to implement and lead the practices and to acquire the right attitudes.

 

To do this, management must set an example through its own attitude: a sense of listening, the right to make mistakes, accepting problems, visiting the field, etc. The second role is that of leader, because the success of the project depends on the manager’s ability to ensure the federation of the whole. He must ensure that the customer’s voice is properly controlled and that it is linked to the product and the actions carried out. Finally, management must ensure that the team does not “give up”.

 

For example, he/she must check the completion of actions for dealing with problems and for continuous improvement. He/she must constantly ensure that the rituals are respected and well adapted, that the panels are completed in accordance with the rules. He/she must be the quality manager of the visual management practice.

 

Christophe Coupé (Director) & Pierre-Louis Bergier (Principal)

[1] By placing these soft skills at the heart of the evolution of managerial practices, it is advisable to include in the annual interviews the assessment of each person’s skills and to build development paths for interpersonal skills and know-how. In particular, it is necessary to pay special attention to the development of management coaching skills.

 

[2] In the case of total digitalisation of visual management, careful attention must be paid to the design and sequencing of the panels, so as not to lose the ability to have all the necessary information at a glance (visual appearance).