Friday, October 23, 2009

The Use Of Lean Visual Controls In Retail

OK, I confess. I’m one of “those” people. You know, one of “those” Apple people. If you didn’t know this before, know that I love my iMac, MacBook, and 2 iPhones. But this is not a blog about how pleased I am with Apple products and their customer service. Rather, it is a blog about Lean Sigma visual controls in the retail industry.

The other day my MacBook would not start up. I was left standing there in front of my class of graduate students with the day’s entire lecture on my beloved MacBook, staring at a black screen. After calling technical support and speaking to a real person almost immediately, I quickly learned that the issue was hardware related.

The next day, I found myself walking into the local Apple Store so my computer could be physically tested. Moments after I walked in, I asked a store employee in a blue t-shirt if I needed to check in for my appointment. He said “Yes, see that guy in the orange t-shirt, check in with him.” No other description was necessary. Simple but effective, just as lean is supposed to be.

I later asked and learned that the Apple Store uses the following color code for their employees, the sales people are in turquoise, the technical people are in blue, and the concierges are in orange. Need to talk to a sales person, simply find someone in a turquoise t-shirt. It is elegant in its simplicity and effectiveness. Kudos to Apple for being a role model in the use of visual controls to identify different job functions in a retail environment.

A special thank you to the Apple Store employees for allowing me to take and use this photo as an example of visual controls.

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Post Author: Royce Williard

Copyright 2009, The Williard Group

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