In the words of my friend and colleague Larry Loucka, “graphs are math.” Graphs often serve as effective visual process performance tools. Typically, these types of graphs fall into the metric category. As reflected in the supporting concepts of the fourth dimension of the Shingo Prize model, good metrics should: 1. “measure what matters,” 2. “align behaviors with performance,” and 3. “identify cause and effect relationships.” Real lean drives measurable operational and financial performance improvement.
The plan versus actual chart is one of the most powerful and simple visual process performance metrics. In fact, it’s a sort of Swiss Army knife of charts in that it not only provides insight into process performance but, by the virtue of its comment field, begs and shares information as to when and why there is a variance from plan. Ultimately, it is about problem identification. The chart is often positioned at the pacemaker process or at the output end of a line or cell (which can be the same thing).