Monday, September 19, 2011

The Value of Images

By Al Norval

What is the value of an image?

We’ve all heard the old adage – “A picture is worth a thousand words” but what is the real value that’s implied by this phrase? We all know that value is driven by the customer so what value do customers see in images?

Let’s start at the beginning - who is the customer of the image? It’s the person who is receiving the information the image is conveying.

What do the customers want? To receive the information in the least waste way; this means understanding it at a glance and to be able to retain the information.

Let’s look at an example situation. We have new hires into the organization and are trying to bring them up to speed quickly and safely without compromising quality. They are the customers of our training process. We use a TWI based process where we have an experienced trainer and standardized work.

Would our customers, the trainees, see value in images so they can tie what their instructor has shown them to the critical elements of the work? Of course! Images reduce training time and take away much of the confusions that occur when using only words even when we show people as well as talk them through the steps.

Would our customers, the trainees, see value in being able to use images to poke yoke their standard work after the training? Again the answer is Yes. Simple images trigger recall of key learning points.

What is it that makes images so powerful in learning a new concept? Images are much deeper, richer and convey more information. Our brain reacts differently to images. Images cause an emotional connection to be formed in our brains so we form more neural connections with images than with words only. This means we have a greater rate of retention with images and a faster recall of the learning point.

My observation from working with many different organizations is that most training consists of slide after slide of PowerPoint? Why? Because it fits into computer systems better. In reality, our minds work so much faster than the words appear on the screen that we become bored and don’t retain the key teaching points. I believe that images are undervalued in training and we in the Lean community should be striving to change this as part of our work.

For more information on the use of Lean images in training, see Lean Pathways Images.

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