How to Communicate ... Orator, Visual or Touch?

A key foundational element of a successful Lean Enterprise is “Respect for People”. To convey “Respect” a simple but effective communication methodology needs to be visible and employed.

Perceived effective communications does not always work. The perception of the sender about what is being communicated can be significantly different than the interpretation of the receiver. This can create chaos and miss-alignment within your operation.

There are three distinct communication transfer methodologies used to communicate and digest information. Imagine, that you are about to embark on learning or installing new software on your computer and see which category you relate best with;

Orator … These are folks that will read an instruction manual from cover-to cover before beginning to use the tool. This also includes those folks that will read the assembly instructions before beginning an assembly process.

Visual … if someone shows you how to do something or takes you for a guided tour, you are able to retain enough information that will enable you to continue on your journey.

Touch … here someone will actually mentor you through a series of actions so that you actually touch and experience the elements of the process so they become programmed into your brain.

Most people can relate to the Visual or Touch category … and if those fail, will resort to Orator tools. The problem is that what we can relate towards is not normally the communications methodology we induce on others to follow.

I am always amazed at the complex methodologies leaders within organizations want their employees to follow … when they have difficulty managing their leadership team to follow some basic principles. For example, observe the following basic Standard Visual Work Instruction;

Just conduct an audit of your meeting room half way during the day … how do they look? Messy?, Chairs not put back into their proper place or papers and reports from previous meeting left behind? Then you will quickly understand why it will be a challenge to create that “Adult to Adult” environment through-out the entire organization


So where to start?

Start in your meeting rooms and cafeterias … make the instructions simple, yet easily understood in a positive manner.

Pictures speak a thousand words … they are also an universal language that everyone understands. Why is that you send picture postcards from your vacation? … cause it easier than attempting to describe it through the written word.

If the creation of a Standard Visual Work Instruction requires more than 1 page … the assignment is too complex. Simplify the content or break it down into more meaningful miniature tasks.

Many organizations cringe in fear that they will have to create Standard Visual Work Instructions for every operation within the facility … nothing can further from the truth. Have individuals or Teams go through the exercise of creating a Standard Visual Work Instruction where confusion, misunderstanding or conflict is occurring about role responsibility or accountability.

Other things to consider about Standard Visual Work Instructions …

Standard Visual Work Instructions are not created for operations but rather as an auditing tool for management to insure standard work practices are being followed.

Don’t call them Standard Visual Work Instructions … but rather your Current Best Practice, this will psychologically empower your folks to want to find improvements to constantly enhance the process without the fear of retaliation or discipline … as long as they follow the Standard Visual Work Instruction for making changes.

Anyone within your organization should be empowered to suggest new Best Practices to be adopted, so make the creation of a new work instruction simple and easy. With the price of digital cameras being so cost effective the barrier for using this tool is virtually eliminated.

A good Standard Visual Work Instruction will pretty much cover all three of the common communication transfer methodologies.

So what kind of communication receptor are you? … Orator, Visual or Touch?

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