Bad Visual Controls Example: Drug Store

From a trip to a national drugstore chain. I was looking for razor blades, that was it. I walked in the front door and saw the bright “Razors” sign in the back of the store (top of the picture).

So, I walked back there…. body wash. No razors.

Asking a clerk for razors, I was pointed to an aisle in the middle of the store.

Why not make the “visual controls” accurate? Did they decide to move razors, but ignored the sign? Do you have out-of-date visual controls in your factory? This was a minor example, but it seems to fall into that “don’t waste my time” complaint in the book Lean Solutions.

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Others from the “Bad Visual Controls” series: fire door, baggage claim.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Mark Edmondson, Lean Affiliates says

    Great example. I’m always lost in stores. Not only do they move stuff around all the time, but they organize things oddly.

    The last time I was in the supermarket, I discovered they moved the packaged nuts from where they were located for years. After wandering around for awhile, I finally gave up and resorted to asking for help (seeking help: another broken process in retail). It turns out, the store created a new shelf section at the other end of the store for “party supplies”… The nuts were next to cocktail mixers, toothpicks, shot glasses, olives and pickles.

    Sounds like the makings for a great party…

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