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Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere -

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.

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Have you seen Lean Six Sigma in action while out and about or at home?

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Banana Split anybody? Seattle Children’s Hospital adds the fun factor to “slippery when wet” – Visual Management for the kindergarten set.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere - Wet Floor Banana -

Submitted by Julius Pecson

“My grandson kept putting dishes in the sink – now he knows when to put dirty dishes in the dishwasher!” – A little job status indicator from a crafty Michigan grandma.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Job Status Indicator -

Submitted by Carol Wardin

A shelf of Kanbans creates a paper stock Supermarket – Order Just-In-Time and put it in just the right spot!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Paper Stock Kanban -

Submitted by Carlo Mantels

No more messy tablecloths thanks to the Drip Catcher from Carasyl Enterprises. Mistake-Proofing for the church supper!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Drip Catcher -

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

Is the water safe? Can I drink it? Can I use it to brush my teeth? This traveller says, “no, no and no” by placing a bottle of clean drinking water right under the tap. Mistake-Proofing keeps you safe from foreign water sources!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Water Reminder -

Submitted by Janell Saavedra

Prices change, visuals need to change. Automation gives Visual Management a leg up at your cutting edge grocery store!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Grocery Store Label -

Submitted by Kelvin Tanjuakio

Visual Management made its way into the mens room – Proving once again, funny is effective! (and please note the unexpected job posting)

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Urinal Sign -

Submitted by Andrew “Skip” Matty

Need to park? Gotta shop? Lots of room for you on Level 9! The Ala Moana Shopping Center parking space Status Board tells you where to go – in the nicest way of course – it’s in Hawaii!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Shopping Center Parking -

Submitted by Julius Pecson

What time are we landing? Will I miss my connection? No need to pester the JetBlue flight crew with this up-to-the-minute Expected Arrival Time Clock. Visual Management for those outside the cockpit!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: JetBlue Clock -

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

Tired of your luggage looking the same as everyone else’s? Slap your face on your travel gear and pick it out at baggage claim first time, every time. Visual Management can be funny, but it’s still practical!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Custom Luggage -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

When your tissues turn “Action-Blue” that means you’ll be running out of tissues soon. That means, you better get another box with Kanban color alerts before watching a tearjerker movie!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Kanban Tissues -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

Did somebody feed the dogs? Is the laundry done? It all becomes clear on the Funderburk Family Job Status Board! There’s even a heart icon ♥ for “Love What You Did.” Visual Management for kids, dogs and shoes.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Job Status Board -

Submitted by Earl Funderburk

Instead of hollering fast food order numbers, simply glance at the screen. An easy way to communicate flow of food…fast! Visual Management at McDonald’s for the traveling diner!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Fast Food Screen -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

Color-coded and straight to the point – Visual Management lets you know what your colleagues are up to. Looks like they’re missing – “Gone Fishing!”

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Out-of-Office -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

What’s the quickest way to let everybody know when your plate is full? Flip the arrow on the “Stress-o-Meter” to the red zone and maybe you’ll catch a break. Visual Management for office distress!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Stress-o-Meter -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

Teachers everywhere – Rejoice! This school supplies Shadow Board lets students know – that you know – they’ve got the stapler and where it goes when they’re done. Visual Management for the classroom!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: School Supplies Shadow Board -

Submitted by Sarah Mae Pecson

Which door? Where can I go? Relax! This picture says, “Whatever you’re wearing and however you get here, this restroom is for you!” Visual Management for the urgent traveller.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Restroom for All -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

Don’t you hate it when the lid doesn’t fit? Well, there are no haters at this Subway soda fountain since color-coded lids let you know exactly which cups to put them on. Visual Management for the thirsty diner!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Subway Lids -

Submitted by Karlo Tanjuakio

Tagalog? Farsi? Polish? If your native tongue isn’t English, no problem! The little index finger lets you know to “point to your language” and an interpreter will arrive. Visual Management for people of the world.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Interpretation Services -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

Paper or plastic? What about garbage? Black and blue labels give travelers a color-coded key to tossing stuff out while on the move. Disposable Visual Management!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Trash Cans -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

Do I have 12 items? 14 items? The Blue Basket Lane means I don’t care! If everything fits in my basket, this is my lane. No need for counting with the Mistake-Proofing “Blue Basket” system.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Blue Basket Lane -

Submitted by Karlo Tanjuakio

A Little League baseball field’s clear use of Visual Management tells fans how to return baseballs to the umpire. Play ball!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Little League Baseball Return -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

Where does your cup go when you have a laptop? What if there’s turbulence? Air France did a little Mistake-Proofing for the global traveller. Merci!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Airline Cup Holder -

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

In a sea of products and prices, Costco makes it easy to find the organic products they carry by using big, green signs. Visual Management for the discerning grocer!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Costco Organic Signage -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

Should I stand or should I walk? Well, whatever I decide, thanks to this signage, I know where to do it! Visual Management prevents the dreaded escalator pile up. Keep it moving people!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Walk or Stand Escalator -

Submitted by Karlo Tanjuakio

Where are my keys? On the counter? On my dresser? In my jeans? Oh, they’re right here on this “Put Your Keys Here” placemat. A little Visual Management at home to get you out the door faster!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere - Key Mat -

Submitted by Carlo Mantels

Snowboarding? Skiing? Snowshoeing? The slopes are waiting and so are you. No problem at Mammoth Mountain! Visual Management sets you on a path. One, two, three, four and you’re out the door!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Mammoth Mountain Signs -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

Water bottles and pens in front of the hotel fridge serve as reminders to take travel items out before leaving. They’re not trash, they’re Kanbans! Visual Management for the road warrior.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Travel Reminder -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

Tired of making too strong or weak coffee and don’t want to spend $200 on a machine? Mistake-Proof single serving portion size courtesy of Starbucks makes it easy to make a perfect cup!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Starbucks Packets -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

Place the tools where they’re needed – that’s the Lean credo behind a hanging pair of “cheater” (reading) glasses in the bathroom – A personal Work Cell Design!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Reading Glasses -

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

Sushi goes down easy, but it’s not easy on the wallet. No worries, just check the color of the plate – yellow is safe but black could make short work of your raw fish budget! Visual Management for fine dining!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Sushi Plates -

Submitted by Karlo Tanjuakio

When you’re at the San Diego Zoo, Visual Management let’s you know if you’re interacting with friend or foe. A finger with a bandaid provides ample warning in any language. No fingers in the cages!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: San Diego Zoo -

Submitted by Karlo Tanjuakio

Visual Management for the young cycler. And Mistake-Proofing for the young driver. Keeping the garage Lean!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Bikes -

Submitted by Elisabeth Swan

Just went to Alcatraz and confirmed the use of Visual Management – Definitely important to know if a knife is missing at a glance when surrounded by inmates!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Alcatraz Knives -

Submitted by Tracy O’Rourke

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

Submitted by Carol Knight-Wallace

Sheraton Hotels use shadow boards 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 -

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 -

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 -

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!

    • 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!