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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?

Please share your example of Lean Six Sigma with us!

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With an increasingly multi-national workforce, Japanese manufacturers have to adjust. Tier-2 Toyota Supplier, Mifune, writes the days of the week in English, Chinese and Japanese to let workers know which parts to use when–a multi-culturally Visual Workspace!

Even if you can’t read Japanese you can tell what’s being communicated. Mifune, a tier 2 Toyota supplier, uses the familiar 4-section pie charts to show the knowledge level of key employees for key tasks. A Visual Workspace makes it easy to see who knows what!

The East is Purple and the West is Orange. It might be easy to get lost since each wing is identical, but the Red Cross Hospital in Ashikaga Japan uses color to create an easy-to-navigate Visual Workspace. Dōmo Arigatō!

Factories can be loud, machines can be dangerous and a workforce may not share the same native language. Mifune, a Tier 2 supplier for Toyota, uses a “look both ways” graphic to develop a Visual Workplace. Beware!

Bus rides can be bumpy, even on the smooth highways of Japan. A water-bottle holder prevents spills and provides a Mistake-Proofing Poka-yoke for the happy rider. Problem solved!

It’s getting dark, you’ve got a car full of kids and you can’t quite see if the gate is down. Not so at the Disney Aulani Resort & Spa. Red and green-lit parking garage gates create visual Poka-yokes to mistake-proof your vacation. Aloha!

Submitted by Julius Pecson

Where does the rice bowl go? The plate? Chopsticks? This Japanese Elementary School makes it easy for young students to participate in the lunch process by teaching them Standard Work. They are learning the foundations of Continuous Improvement at a tender age and enjoying a wonderful, visually laid out meal!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Standard Work Job Aid -

It’s a multiple day event, and you don’t want to wear your name badge to bed. Sticking it on the handle of your hotel door provides a Poka-yoke. It’s mistake-proofing that stops you from leaving for the day without your badge! A great idea courtesy of Mami Takeda, Translator for Katie Anderson’s Japan Study Trip.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Don't Forget Your Name Badge! -

There’s a lot of foot traffic but rest assured; you are safe if you follow the red circle. The Toyota Museum in Nagoya, Japan is a Visual Workplace. Of course it is!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Japan Stop Sign -

Before entering a room at the Ashikaga Red Cross Hospital, you don’t need to know Japanese to understand the visual cues to clean your hands and keep patients safe. Arigatōgozaimashita – thank you!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere - Japan Hospital Sanitizing -

Lots of cars and it’s unclear who’s still filling their tank. Wait! Top right green light in the shape of pump means there’s an opening. Visual Management at Costco’s gas station keeps the line moving!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Costco Gas Line -

Submitted by Anna Comia

It’s a foreign shower in a Tokyo hotel and the temperature is in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit, but the red line and red button provide the kind of Mistake-Proofing (Poka-yoke) that keep you happy when wet!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Tokyo Hotel Shower -

The alphabet is unfamiliar and the words might be unrecognizable, but the image of hand squeezed between two doors and the resulting cry are unmistakable. The Shinkansen is the Japanese “bullet train.” It’s a fast but safe Visual Workplace!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Japanese Bullet Train Door Sign -

Hungry for pizza? Wondering when it’s coming out of the oven? If the Job Status Board says “Ready” then prepare for cheesy goodness. Pizza Hut uses Visual Management to let you know exactly when your pie is ready to travel.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Pizza Hut Status Board -

Submitted by Anna Comia

How do you dry your hands without spreading germs? Puerto Rico’s airport restroom is way ahead of you – an illustration of you using your elbow turns this into a Visual Workspace!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Elbow Dryer -

Where should you place your dollars? Euros? Yen? This Japanese security bin uses Visual Management to ease your passage.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Japanese Security Tray -

Submitted by Katie Anderson

Spaghetti Maps illustrate the waste of Motion, but what if the goal is racing down ski slopes? Checkout how Tracy O’Rourke turned this tool into a value-added display of snowboard action across Mammoth Mountain. Make the tool work for you!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere - Spaghetti Map Mammoth Mountain -

Black for meters and blue for flat rates. Washington’s Sea-Tac Airport uses visuals to make it easy to choose your favorite car service!

Lean Six Sigma IS Everywhere - Sea-Tac Airport Ride Share -

Submitted by Anna Comia

Quoi? You may not speak French but you know that a 2-minute wait is way better than almost a half hour. Some Visual Management ala Francais to get you though the French underground. Voila!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: French Wait Sign -

Qu’est-ce que c’est? The words may be foreign but the bunny is familiar. Paris subways create a Visual Workplace to avoid injured fingers…and paws. Bien sur!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: France Door Sign -

“How do you feel today?” Visual Management extends to understanding employee ‘status,’ but don’t substitute reading hash marks for true conversation!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Emotional Index -

Submitted by Mike Wroblewski

If your travels take you through Boston you might visit the classy Logan Airport restrooms. Workplace visuals can be stylish too!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Logan Airport Restrooms -

Big button = more wasted water, so go with the little button if you can. Europe turned their “loos” into Visual Workspaces and the U.S. is game since it helps save the planet!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Flusher -

Marriott‘s housekeeping team strikes again which means there’s a place for everything and everything in its place – 5S makes the Workplace Visual!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Marriott Housekeeping -

Submitted by Sally Toister

The newly opened subway station at New York’s World Trade Center provides color-coded status updates on train wait times. Visual Management underground!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: NYC Subway Station -

When you’re waiting for your car, you can see exactly where you are in the list – Thanks to Westin‘s Valet Visual Management, everyone knows how long you’ve been in line!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Valet Monitor -

Submitted by Anna Comia

Just one more agenda item? No! There’s 5 minutes left to wrap up this meeting and clarify next steps. Who better than the Lean Enterprise Institute to include their clocks in their Visual Workplace. Times up!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: LEI Clock -

Want some food? Want your check? Want out? This Honolulu airport restaurant provides push-button dining – a Visual Workplace helps travellers dine and dash!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Airport Restaurant -

Submitted by Anna Comia

Ikea wants to hear the Voice of the Customer so they make it easy with color-coded the buttons and “happy” to “grouchy” faces for fast feedback. Push-button VOC!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Ikea VOC -

Submitted by Anna Comia

Do you need to go but don’t know where to go? Relax… Zingerman’s Visual Workplace says, “Right here!”

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Zingerman's Bathroom -

How many work orders have been fulfilled? How many mistakes have we made? Look up at the board at Zingerman’s Mail Order business – Visual Management ensures everybody knows.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Zingerman's Visual Board -

How do you communicate with children who have trouble with words? Speech-Language Pathologist Erica Allain uses her Visual Classroom where kids point to emojis. Message received!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: SPED Focus Assessment -

Submitted by Erica Allain

What goes in Zingerman’s most popular mail order gift box? A handy Shadow Board for “The Weekender” makes excellent use of spare cardboard. Tom Root and his crew make fast work of filing orders with an incredibly Visual Workplace!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Zingerman's Shadow Board -

Don’t you hate it when the waiter tosses out a perfectly good glass of wine just because you’re busy dancing? Check out this vital wedding visual that reserves your drink and saves the happy couple a few “clams.” You’re having fun, but waiters appreciate a Visual Workplace!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Drink Card -

Submitted by Erica Allain

Can’t find your favorite lip gloss? Did you know you could “Standardize” a make-up drawer? Furniture to face powder – materials to mascara – 5S gets the job done!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Makeup Storage -

Submitted by Jurija Metovic

How do you “Sustain” a communal work refrigerator that’s been successfully 5S‘d? This updatable sign let’s everyone know when the weekly “Shine” step is about to take place!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Fridge Sign -

Submitted by John Karlin

How many shoes do you have? Room for more? Missing a pair? The answer is obvious with a Shoe Kanban!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Shoe Kanban -

Check out how easy it is to see your diaper inventory – New moms need Kanbans!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Home Nursery -

Submitted by Anna Comia

The Montreal Airport wants to know what you think of their restrooms so they made it easy to give your opinion – Visual Voice of the Customer!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Montreal Airport VOC -

Submitted by Kelvin Tanjuakio

The Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange commissary in Oahu makes life easy – A visual board lights up to let you know which cash register is ready and there’s a friendly voice giving shoppers an extra clue. Island living with a Visual Workplace!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: NEX Next Sign -

Submitted by Julius Pecson

Pick a number and watch the queue – The Hawaiian Department of Motor Vehicles is a Visual Workplace with a sunshine bonus!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: DMV Hawaii -

Submitted by Anna Comia

This Monthly Material Log turns red when it’s time to order resin. Visual Management for Plastic Mold Technology!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Plastic Mold Technology Monthly Materials Log -

Submitted by Michelle Kidder

Anyone from anywhere knows what a stop sign means. The color red is yet another visual clue of what not to do. This well-designed warning saves a lot of wasted transportation. Mistake-Proofing to the rescue!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Do Not Return Sign -

How about a Visual Play Space for kids? If they know what goes in the basket, maybe they’ll help clean up! Maybe…

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Toy Basket -

No need for poles with floppy ropes to show shoppers where to line up. A simple line on the floor turns Best Buy into a Visual Workplace!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Best Buy Line -

The oceans are blue, and so are the water cups at this forward-thinking restaurant. Color-coded Mistake-Proofing keeps water out of the Sprite – and Sprite out of the water!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Blue Cups -

Submitted by Anna Comia

The Job Board makes this family’s Work Day happen. Having a Kanban Board means no need for a foreman. Just look at the board, see what needs doing and heave a sigh of relief at what’s been “Done!”

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Work Day Kanban -

The hole-puncher and some colored paper provide keyboard shortcut reminders. Emails and calendar events are instantly categorized on this “Visual” keyboard.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Visual Keyboard -

Submitted by Lynne Emmons

Did you know you could taste Mistake-Proofing? Nintendo coated their bite-sized Switch cartridges with bitter, harmless yucky stuff so that tiny gamers won’t snack on them. Gross but good!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Nintendo Switch Cartridges -

Submitted by Julius Pecson

Does your trash can migrate? Does the cleaning crew have their own ideas? This crafty Quality Director created her own Visual Workplace technique and voila! The trash can is forever in striking distance.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Trash X -

Submitted by Lynne Emmons

Where’s my mic?! The singers at Grace Bible Church Pearlside – Regal Campus know exactly where the microphones go. And they know which one is missing! Visual Management for sopranos, altos and tenors.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Microphone Box -

Submitted by Julius Pecson

Being a young patient is scary but hearing the staff speak your native tongue brings the warmth. Friendly Visual Workplace tools provided by Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Preferred Language Sign -

Submitted by Julius Pecson

Banana Split anybody? Seattle Children’s Hospital adds the fun factor to “slippery when wet” – Mistake-Proofing 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 -

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 creates an agile Visual Workplace at your cutting edge grocery store!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Grocery Store Label -

Submitted by Kelvin Tanjuakio

The men’s room turned into a Visual Workplace – 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. A Visual Workplace right outside the cockpit!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: JetBlue Clock -

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 -

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.” A Visual Workplace 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! A Job Status Board at McDonald’s for the traveling diner!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Fast Food Screen -

Color-coded and straight to the point – This Visual Workplace lets you know what your colleagues are up to. Looks like they need a “Gone Fishing!” sign!

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

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. A Visual Workplace for officemates distress!

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

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!” The airport becomes a Visual Workplace for the urgent traveller.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Restroom for All -

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. Thirsty diners enjoy the Visual Workplace!

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. People of the world enjoy a Visual Workplace.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Interpretation Services -

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

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Trash Cans -

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 becomes a Visual Workplace that tells fans how to return baseballs to the umpire. Play ball!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Little League Baseball Return -

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 -

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

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Costco Organic Signage -

Should I stand or should I walk? Well, whatever I decide, thanks to this signage, I know where to do it! The Visual Workplace 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. When your home becomes a Visual Workplace, you get 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! Ski resorts are Visual Workplaces. One, two, three, four and you’re out the door!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Mammoth Mountain Signs -

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! Mistake-Proofing for the road warrior.

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Travel Reminder -

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 -

Place the tools where they’re needed – that’s the Lean credo behind a hanging pair of “cheater” (reading) glasses in the bathroom – A Visual Workplace where you need it most!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Reading Glasses -

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! A Visual Workplace makes sure fine dining is affordable!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Sushi Plates -

Submitted by Karlo Tanjuakio

The San Diego Zoo is a Visual Workplace since you need to know if you’re interacting with friend or foe. 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 -

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 -

Emergency Rooms usually mean hours of waiting and uncertainty, but what if you knew the wait time? What if you had a choice? A Process Status Board on a billboard – thanks!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: ER Wait Time Billboard -

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 – Visual Workplace in the foyer!

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 -

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 Workplace Visuel!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Visual Utensils -

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

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Apple Adapter Instructions -

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 -

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 -

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 – kitchen as Visual Workplace!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Milk Kanban -

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 -

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

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 – a Visual Workplace makes the lines go faster!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: TSA Airport Security -

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 – the closet is a Visual Workplace!

Lean Six Sigma Is Everywhere: Winter Clothing Visual -

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. Even the attic can be a Visual Workplace!

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 -

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 -

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!