Why It’s Important to Visualize Your Work

In an earlier blog post, Wim offered some important information on how to visualize our work. Check out the full post here, but here are some of the related highlights of that post: Start as simple as you can but no simpler; start with visualizing what you’re doing today; reflect reality…visualize the REAL status; and short TO DO lists are always better.

The above points help us understand the what of visualization, but what about the why? Why is it important to visualize our work?  In a helpful article, Frank Niles suggests that visualization is simply a technique to create a mental image of a future event. After reading that last sentence, you might be thinking, Hold on a second…I thought that Kanban is about visualizing what I’m doing today, not in the future! You’re right, and that’s why Niles differentiates between Outcome Visualization and Process Visualization.

Outcome Visualization is definitely future oriented; it involves envisioning ourselves achieving our goal. On the other hand, Process Visualization is about envisioning the actions necessary to achieve a desired outcome.

Implementing the Kanban approach means taking our end goal and breaking it down into smaller steps, and then paying attention to – visualizing – each of those steps; and then we focus more on those smaller steps than the end goal itself.

What does this look like in the real world? This approach is applicable in any number of scenarios. A construction project manager is successful if he/she is able to see and complete one section, one floor at a time as opposed to only keeping an eye on the designer’s rendering of the end product. A runner setting out on a 10K race is much better off breaking that distance down into manageable increments and then visualizing the successful completion of those shorter distances.

What are some of the ways you are successfully implementing Kanban and visualizing your work? Comment on this post or sign up to receive this and other posts directly to your email. We’d love to hear from you!


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