Lean Communication: Making Work Visible


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In lean manufacturing, making work visible is about organizing work so that everyone involved is clear at all times what the status of work is, and the most important next steps are obvious. As I’ve written earlier, the core of lean is the development of awareness of value and waste, and you can’t be aware of what you can’t see.

In lean communication, it’s about structuring your message so that a) you can see clearly what you’re saying, and b) your listeners can too. You need a clear structure that exposes your logic so you more can easily spot flaws and gaps, and correct them before someone else does for you. That structure also makes it more likely that listeners will get the meaning you intend, not the one that they might infer.

If it means outlining a long message or presentation, so be it. Mindmapping might also help, but a traditional outline is usually better because you still have to speak sequentially. Besides outlining as you prepare your remarks, you can “tell them what you’re going to tell them.” (But I don’t recommend telling them what you told them, if you can see that they got it—that would violate the pull principle of lean communication.)

If it means following a template, there’s nothing wrong with that either. Templates keep you from reinventing the wheel every time you speak and ensure you don’t miss anything critical. The best template is the one that systematically answers the likely questions in the audience’s mind.

Besides having a clear structure, it helps even more to make the structure visible by having signposts and highlights while you’re speaking. For example, if someone asks you what could delay your project, you might say: “There are three possible risks. The first is…”

By making it easy for others to follow you’re adding value, reducing waste, and making yourself appear more credible at the same time.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jack Malcolm
Jack founded Falcon Performance Group in 1996 specifically to combine his complex-sale expertise and his extensive financial background to design and implement complete sales process improvement initiatives at top national and international corporations.


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