Signs and symbols without context has no meaning. Context is needed in visual management.
Context matters. But, rarely do we consciously think of it; in fact, we almost always assume without really realizing that the subject of which we are talking about is really relative to other parts of the story. We take it for granted.
For example, take the picture below, which says: “Do you have any suspicious moles?”
Without context, the sign doesn’t mean much. But, when the sign above is coupled with the image below of a primary physician’s office or a hospital room, then it takes on a different meaning:
Putting the two together, the sign inquires of the person reading it to consider any strange looking moles and to have those moles checked by a physician for any signs or symptoms of skin cancer.
Do you see what just happened? The sign by itself – without context – could be understood as strange, funny, and even weird. BUT, the sign coupled with the context of a physician’s office all of a sudden takes on some meaning.
What else in your life is like that? In the world of process improvement, can you think of situations where, by itself and without context, a tool such as Kanban, Process Map, or something else doesn’t have meaning unless there’s context attached to it?
What do you think?