He Should Have Seen It

In many processes, we ask people to notice things. Often we do this implicitly by blaming people when something is missed. This is easy to do in hindsight, and easy to do when we are investigating and knowing what to look for. But in the real world, a lot of important information gets lost in the clutter.

We talk about 5S, separating the necessary from the unnecessary, a lot, but usually apply it to things.

What about information?

How is critical information presented?

How easy is it for people to see, quickly, what they must?

This is a huge field of study in aviation safety where people get hyper focused on something in an emergency, and totally miss the bigger picture.

This site has a really interesting example of how subtle changes in the way information is presented can make a huge difference for someone trying to pull out what is important. The context is totally different, so our challenge is to think about what is revealed here, and see if we can see the same things in the clutter of information we are presenting to our people.

The purpose of good visual controls is to tell us, immediately, what we must pay attention to. Too many of them, or too much detail – trying to present everything to everyone – has the opposite effect.

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