JOSHUA COHEN is a principal at Fat Pencil Studio.
When I was growing up, LEGO provided the building blocks for a whole range of creative expression... for kids. Now they've found their way into corporate management systems. General Motors has partnered with the WellStar Health on a system using LEGO bricks to track a whole range of processes from vehicle repairs to patient care. The result is kind of a 3d hybrid of a spreadsheet and project board.
“3-D Visualization allows us to look at issues more holistically,” said Jamie Pickett, GM senior manager of current program quality. “By visually representing a problem it is easier to see the whole scope of it and where the opportunities lie. And, unlike a line of data in a spread sheet, seeing a problem as a block on a board is a strong motivator for finding a solution to get it off the board.”
LEGO blocks are a great for representing abstract processes & issues. However, when it comes to lean manufacturing systems, many improvements hinge on the physical properties of your facility. If you are planning a signage system, what will it look like from different points in the building? If you are considering new material handling equipment, will it fit everywhere it needs to go? Would simple changes in the physical layout improve your efficiency? Our SceneViz process can help verify the effectiveness and improve the value lean systems investment. As for LEGO… I haven't brought my old bricks into the office yet, but I do still get excited about new ideas from LEGO.