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11 Examples of Visual Control

Visual controls is the practice of using visual information to manage things. These include visual elements such as color coding, iconography, shapes and graphs that can be quickly and intuitively understood. Visual controls can be combined with numerical and textual information that together provide immediate visual cues and detailed information. The following are illustrative examples:

Color Coding

Color coding things so that they can be intuitively understood.
A facility with color coded access badges that visually indicate the level of access an individual is granted.

Data Visualization

Data visualization such as a bar chart.
A sales report that depicts actual sales versus forecast sales for each month that instantly tells you how often sales have exceeded forecast and by how much.

Heat Maps

Heat maps are a means of communicating status reports with color temperature. Traditionally this only uses three colors:
Green indicates that everything is going according to plan or that a target was achieved.
Yellow indicates an issue or risk.
Red indicates a problem or missed target.

Minimal Color

Visual control never uses color as a decoration and recognizes that using dozens of colors with different meanings can be confusing, depending on the situation.
Call center software uses a white background for all fields. Blue boxes are used to communicate actions that must be taken. Red boxes indicate some risk or problem that requires the attention of a manager. This simple color coding allows employees to quickly focus on the actions they need to take or things they need to escalate.

Visual Warnings

Visually communicating danger information.
A speedometer on a fork lift that is red at the speed limit for a facility. This lets workers visually understand where they need to slow down.


A dashboard is a visual report that is dense such that it reports a great deal of information in a screen. Ideally, these give you everything you need to know to accomplish a management task in a single view.
A dashboard for a data center indicates the operating status for the facility's core services where blue indicates normal operation, grey indicates planned maintenance downtime and red indicates unplanned outages.


Uniforms are a type of visual communication that can indicate things such as role and authority.
An aircraft maintenance facility with different color uniforms for staff with different roles such as maintenance technicians and quality control inspectors.

Visual Conventions

Visual conventions are standards for visualizing things.
A convention of using different colors of wire casing and electrical tape to indicate different types of wires such as a green to indicate a ground.

Human Error Prevention

Using visual things to prevent human error.
Hand tools in an aircraft maintenance facility that are stored in a case with a foam cut out that's the exact shape of each tool with a red background that shows if the tool is missing. This is important for tool control whereby it is critical not to leave hand tools in an engine.


Putting visual tags or stickers on things.
A maintenance crew in a factory inspect 500 machines each month and put a color coded tag on each to indicate the inspection has been completed. Any machine that has not been inspected will have last month's color of tag and will immediately stand out as uninspected.

Visual Workflows

Workflows are screens that are used to complete work according to a process. These are inherently visual and may be designed to improve productivity, indicate priorities or reduce human error.
A workflow for an order fulfillment process shows a photo of the product that needs to be picked from a shelf along with the color coded number of the shelf where the product resides.

Management Communication

This is the complete list of articles we have written about management communication.
Action Items
Data Science
Management Issues
Management Reporting
Out Of Scope
Visual Control
Visual Design
Visual Management
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Management Communication

Common types of management communication.

Management Reports

An overview of management reports with examples.

Action Items

An overview of action items with a list of examples.

Management Responsibilities

A list of common management responsibilities.

Management Reporting

An overview of management reporting with examples.

Management Issues

A list of common management issues.

Stakeholder Engagement

An overview of the stakeholder engagement process with examples.

Internal Controls

A definition of internal controls with examples.

Administration Examples

An overview of administration with examples.

Checks And Balances

An overview of checks and balances.


An overview of control with examples.

Management Importance

An overview of management importance with examples and counterexamples.


An overview of employee leave with examples.

Quality Problems

The common causes of quality problems.


An overview of transparency with examples.
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