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 Do you have out-of-date visual controls in your factory?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.

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

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. 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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