Monday, June 3, 2013

3D U/I – Management Toolo r Child’s Play?

By Udit Chaudhuri

3D U/I – Management Tool
LEGO ® building blocks to track step-by-step progress on everything

Your new camera or cell-phone possibly came without an instruction manual. Symbols next to any lever, switch or button gave you all choices and settings. A wrong action would be stalled or met by a beep. If you referred the manual or visited the Help site, it described each task in comic-book fashion, so as to rid any confusion. Likewise, when you enter a modern international airport, no matter how strange the land or language are, clear signage direct you until you reach your next transport.

Visual management or VM tools make simple solutions for complex issues. Applied to the point of mastery by Japanese managers in their fabled car factories and rail systems, VM helped factories in the US set exemplary safety levels and hospitals in the West to service multiple emergencies, 24X7. Visitors and staffers know exactly where to go and what to do. No doubt this is emulated in India too. A combination of striking signage at any of the newer corporatized hospitals, supermarkets and remodelled airports takes you to the right spot quickly. At home, you don’t need any Master’s Course in e-mail or Internet use. Such is VM in essence.

3D U/I – Management Tool
Each row represents an hour and each color indicates a different project 

3D U/I – Management Tool
LEGO ® Calendar a Lego-Based Scheduling Tool 

Though made to simply life, VM is no way easy! It takes research and planning: staff to operate and how; people who will use the system; environment; situations of use, as also any error and crisis likely. VM requires careful design of all tasks and standardising these, as also the visual representation. A clear leadership structure or line-of-command is critical, for all situations are not abjectly clear. Strategically placed kiosks with thoroughly instructed staff in colour-coded uniforms with the right systems support are also used to prevent or manage crises of any kind. Often, selected administrators receive cell-phone alerts, and icons on their desktops trigger pre-planned team actions like rapid-fire. Thus, Virtual Reality and related technologies graduate from games and simulator-training into full-fledged productivity tools. 

3D U/I – Management Tool
visual management for hospitals 

3D U/I – Management Tool

Using intelligent tools to anticipate all work including its tough spots and provide one-click solutions without error tends to result in complex systems and software for case/data upload, status-tracking, task management, liaison, reporting and clearing complete cases.  This is why it comes as a pleasant surprise to find GM in collaboration with an emergency-services hospital developing a simple system of LEGO ® blocks that you may have played with as a child, as a status indicator for managing the in-Warranty support of its trucks, tasks ranging from routine servicing or a breakdown in the field. Problems are colour-coded while large bricks are used to indicate severity. A sticker on each brick indicates the case number. Each step of progress is shown by location of the brick along the base-board and the ‘queue’ at each step is indicated by stacking bricks vertically. Likewise, another system of LEGO ® blocks helps in managing treatment of critical patients at the hospital.

3D U/I – Management Tool
3-D Visualization LEGO ® Board

3D U/I – Management Tool
LEGO ®-Based Visual Management Tool

Such a simple tool to solve a complex set of issues only shows that any technology or solution is as useful as its intentions, objectives and deployment plans, even if what appears simple is not easy.

Photography: Courtesy World Wide Web

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