As we embrace many of the lean ways including shifting to a more visual management approach, be careful not to turn a good visual management board into a mocking board.
Let me explain. Recently, while on a gemba walk through a plant, I spotted a new TPM board by one of the machines. TPM stands for Total Productive Maintenance. From the aisle, I could see some cool stuff on the board including a TPM map, TPM checksheets, timelines, problem logs, problem tags, etc. Excited and curious about this new visual management board, I approached the operator and asked her about it.
Her reply surprised me. “Oh, that. It’s my mocking board.”
I asked her what she meant by mocking board. She explained that the board was just put up a month ago by maintenance. She even attended a training session on filling out all the forms and how to do tasks to check on the machine herself. The first couple of days, they (the maintenance guys) were responsive to fixing items on the machine but than nothing.
For weeks nothing more happened despite all the tagging and logging of items requiring attention. She had asked her supervisor, on several occasions, on the status when maintenance was going to fix the items. No answer and no action.
As a result, she now views the visual board as a mocking board. All the items stay on the list, always in front of her, mocking her, because they are still undone. It is a visual monument to all that is wrong and broken with her machine with no activity to fix it.
Wow. Here are the beginnings of a cool visual management system that is quickly turning into a clear message that as managers we do not care.
The good thing is that this problem is quite visible and all we have to do is see it and take action to correct it.