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When it comes to Visual Management and cultural differences, I know you covered that color coding is a must. However when you need to be more detailed about the process, is it effective to translate it to various languages?

It will always depend on the process and what you are trying to get across. If the goal is to Identify/Instruct/Inform/Plan, then the order of questions might be:

  • Can I use colors (green/yellow/red)?
  • Is there a photo/graphic/image that will get the point across?
  • If I have to use text, what are the fewest number of words I can use?
  • If I have to use text, do I need to translate it?

As you saw in many of the examples, it’s often a combination of colors, images and text that works best. Try that as a process and see if it helps you decide what would work best.

Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. For over 25 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.