Visual performance management is one of three core components of the Arizona Management System (the others are problem solving and leader standard behaviors.) Good visual management allows us to:
• Quickly communicate standards and status so teams and management in near real time can see gaps between actual and expected performance as well as deviation from standard work.
• Direct management’s attention to areas that need support to drive improvement.
• Enhance learning in the workplace primarily by making problems visible so they can be solved with countermeasures.
Collectively, these characteristics of good visual management have the practical effect of getting employees involved, excited and engaged in improving their mission performance. This in turn makes their jobs more meaningful to them because they can see how they support the agency mission and contribute to overall success.
By deploying AMS, agencies are beginning to learn how to effectively integrate visual management into the workplace. Artifacts of visual management include physical things like huddle boards and scorecards. They also include processes, such as huddle meetings and business reviews, where teams at various levels come together for set times on a regular, recurring schedule to review performance, spot the gaps, and agree on paths forward to close the gaps.
As teams are no doubt discovering, possibly with some frustration, there is a good amount of learning involved when choosing what to measure. Selecting performance measures that matter can be difficult in government systems of work because so much of what we often do seems squishy. We can greatly improve our ability to choose measures that matter when we describe our work systems tangibly, as follows:
• We make widgets (what do we produce?)
• We use standard, visible processes (how do we make our widget?)
• We have customers (who is the ultimate end user of our widget?)
• We achieve beneficial outcomes (why do we make our widget?)
Teams that can answer these four key questions typically find the visual management experience more useful and have an easier time integrating it effectively into their daily work routines. Also, it helps greatly when they can see the connection between their day-to-day work and the agency’s strategic goals, strategies and performance measures for achieving short- and long-term success.
As state employees, what we do matters. Visual performance management, as practiced with discipline and rigor through AMS, is making what we do easier to track and improve, so we can ultimately do more good for Arizona.