Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Do you ever walk into a store and know at a glance where to find what you need? Do you notice that seemingly long lines can often move really quickly? Do you find yourself wondering why things don’t go horribly wrong more often? Lean Six Sigma is at work!

Mistake-proofing, visual clues, ergonomics and more. Take a look around you when you walk into any space – a retail shop, an outdoor concert, someone’s kitchen. What makes it work?

Whether you realize it or not, Lean Six Sigma is everywhere. You can find it in your home, at the airport, in hotels or your garage. Wherever you go Lean Six Sigma keeps processes flowing, keeps us from making mistakes and helps us as we navigate the world at large.

Have you seen Lean Six Sigma in action while out and about or at home? Share a photo with us in the comments below!


Emergency Rooms usually mean hours of waiting and uncertainty – but what if you knew the wait time? What if you had a choice? Visual controls on a billboard – thanks!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: ER Wait Time Billboard - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

Is there any mail to go out? Where is it? A clothespin forms a signal (aka Kanban) that answers both those questions before they’re asked – Thank you Visual Management!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Outgoing Mail - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Holly North

How do you stop people from inadvertently turning off the motion-detector lights? Fifty cents worth of plastic and nobody has to wander around in the dark – Mistake-Proofing at work!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Poka Yoke Light Switch - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

Got back to your table with three knives? Two spoons and a fork? Not at this woodsy Vermont Cafe. Even if you come down from Quebec, you’ll recognize what you need – Vive Le Management Visuel!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Visual Utensils - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

Courtesy of Apple, here’s a great example of Visual Management instructions. No words needed and easy to understand at a glance!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Apple Adapter Instructions - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

Driving into a garage is like a tight-space driving test. When you fail, you could flatten a bicycle. A Mistake-Proofing tennis ball means you get an ‘A’ every time!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Poka Yoke Tennis Ball Garage - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

Looking for the loo? El baño? The lavatory? Your native tongue doesn’t matter since red means stop and green means go, so to speak, in every language! Mistake-Proofing at it’s best!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Ballpark Bathroom - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

This empty carton might look like garbage, but to us it’s a signal (aka Kanban) that it’s time to buy milk. And yes, then it’s garbage – courtesy of Visual Management!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Milk Kanban - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

How do hotels run banquets behind the scenes? They put plate stacks on wheels, they paint the floor so it’s clear where they go and you get your wedding entree on time – Visual Management keeps things rolling!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Hotel Banquet Carts - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

When shopping leaves you hungering for a hotdog, Costco leads the way with a few finely placed arrows – Visual Management for lunch!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Costco Visual Line - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Karlo Tanjuakio

No pictures! No Text! Canadian TSA knows the best visual clues are real ones – Visual Management makes the lines go faster!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: TSA Airport Security - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

Is bathroom cleanup a trial as your young son struggles with aim? A fly decal replaces accidents with target practice – Mistake-Proof the toilet!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Urinal Fly - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Rey Elbo

Where’s my new scarf? Just add a few pictures and nobody’s reaching for the wrong basket anymore – Visual Management strikes again!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Winter Clothing Visual - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

It’s been a year, and now I can’t find those dang Christmas ornaments. Oh! They’re right here in the red and green boxes. Hooray for Visual Management!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Christmas Decorations - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Carol Knight-Wallace

Sheraton Hotels use shadowboards with color coding to make it easy for housekeeping…and guests – Visual Management on the road!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Sheraton Hotel Shadow Tray - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

A kitchen ‘Shadow Drawer’ makes it easy to know where the knives go…and which ones are missing – Home grown Visual Management!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Shadowboard Knife Drawer - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

Bathrooms with green and red lights let you know whether a stall is occupied or not – That’s the kind of Mistake-Proofing we need!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: IAL Restrooms - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Submitted by Jurija Metovic


Check with us every week to find out where we found Lean Six Sigma at work in the world at large. How about you? Do you see it? Where? Show us in the comments below!

  • The main emphasis of Lean is on cutting out unnecessary and wasteful steps in the creation of a product so that only steps that directly add value to the product are taken.

    • GoLeanSixSigma

      Hi! Thanks for your feedback.

      We agree that removing waste is one of the main focuses of Lean, but it’s also important to build a Lean Culture by utilizing Lean Management. Respect for people is also a main focus.

    • Thanks for chiming in TQMI! – removing waste from a process is key and when the workers within the process are the ones who are free to find and remove that waste, then the organization is able to build a robust Lean Culture full of problem solvers. What I like about the Visual Management examples in this series is that they prevent rework and mistakes (Waste of Defects) and help reduce the Waste of Waiting by improving flow. Thanks again for your feedback!

  • karthik Munukutla

    This is true! Lean six Sigma is everywhere. Can you explain or show me an example on integrating visual management with error proofing? I personally feel those two are interlinked with each other.

    • Tracy ORourke

      Visual signs with the “anti” circle are great visual management examples of soft mistake-proofing. They show what not to do, or what to avoid. I hope that helps!
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e4a3e194d3146655a4097d937d0071c52e700c6bdcae0dc87f3ea34a36a68c15.png

    • Hi @karthikmunukutla:disqus – Two more examples that are both “hard” mistake-proofing as well as visual management are both of the bathroom examples above. Those use the “red/green” visuals for “unavailable/available” and, since the “red” indicators are the result of locking the doors, those doors are also mistake-proofed. There’s no chance of opening the wrong door and the visuals helps people avoid wasting time checking to see which doors are unlocked. I hope that gives you more to work with!

  • Abhi Shek C

    Do American manufacturers really implement lean in their process? If yes, do they succeed 100% ?

    • Good questions @abhi_shek_c:disqus – As to whether American manufacturers implement Lean, the answer is a big “yes.” Manufacturing companies were the first to implement Lean given the success of the Toyota Production System. Lean practices can be seen throughout the shop floors of American industries. The biggest growing sector now is the service industry. Service companies are bringing Lean into the transactional world, removing waste, streamlining processes and delivering value to their customers. Like any process improvement effort there are companies with strong, lasting success and others that lack leadership support to truly build a problem-solving culture. It’s a big range. Thanks for asking!