Avoid Inaccurate Signage!

The following is a sign I saw in a plane yesterday:

Unintended signage in airliner galley

Unintended signage in airliner galley

I thought it was amusing, and told a flight attendant that it was unlikely any passenger would mistake that location for a lavatory. She explained  that this sticker was all they could find to hold up the lid of the waste container. While it may not have conveyed the best image to passengers, functionally, it was harmless, but it reminded me of not-so-harmless cases of wrong, obsolete, or ignored signage on factory floors.

Many such signs are often posted hastily as part of a “5S event.” Three months later, you see shadow boards with tools permanently missing, full pallets in front of signs that reserve the space for empties, and junk encroaching on marked transportation aisles. While each instance is a minor issue, collectively, even a small number is sufficient to destroy the credibility of the signage plantwide.

Signage on factory floors must be posted with excruciating care for accuracy and clarity, and it must then be enforced rigorously and consistently. Otherwise, it is a waste of effort.

One comment on “Avoid Inaccurate Signage!

  1. Excellent points, Michel. I’ll avoid going off on the airlines and stick to the main topic of your post. I find that out-of-date and inaccurate signage in the workplace is often the result of attempts to adopt random components of lean without understanding that many of these things are countermeasures to address specific problems, and not basic elements of lean thinking. Sustaining improvements resulting from such actions requires that they be part of an overall system of management rather than random actions. This occurs from organizations attempting to “copy Toyota” rather than gaining a fundamental understanding of the philosophy.

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