GM Uses LEGOs for Visual Management Tool

Posted to Visualization  |  Tags: , ,  |  Nathan Yau

I thought this was a joke, but it appears GM really is using a “three-dimensional visualization system” called — wait for it — 3-D Visualization. It’s meant as a generalized tool to track progress of systems, and they believe it could reduce time to make system changes, leading to fewer warranty claims, by 33 percent.

3-D Visualization builds on GM’s Problem Resolution Tracking System. If a transmission case breaks on a durability test vehicle, a problem resolution report documents the problem, and its corresponding LEGO block goes on a LEGO board. The block color identifies the area on the vehicle and the block size denotes severity; the bigger the block, the bigger the problem. Each block has an identification number and date of discovery, and the board shows its progress from root cause to solution to outcome. 3-D Visualization is applicable to any process that has volume and aging.

There’s no mention of a computer link in the press release (seems like something worth noting), but it does look like there’s a cable coming out from the board. If that’s the case, I want one.

[Thanks, Daniil]


  • Rory Dunne April 2, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Pretty sure you are a day late with this……. I hope……

  • I work in process improvement… in healthcare (after working in manufacturing for a number of years).

    Nathan, thank you very much for the story. It will come in handy when explaining visual systems to healthcare professionals.

    I will note that visual systems, stemming from Lean (or the Toyota Production System), are traditionally NOT computer based. Lean emphasizes step-wise, low-cost testing above time-consuming, budget-required implementations. This is not to say that eventually the Lego system will become electronic, but first we shoot for simple.

    In addition, the Lego visual system has multiple advantages over a computer-based system. For example, Legos are easy to update, very visible (if mounted in a high-traffic area), and low cost (you can always steal more from your children!).

    Does anyone know if there is a similar story about how WellStar Health System implemented the LEGO system in their hospitals?

    • Why am I not surprised it’s someone named Jordan actually taking this seriously and promoting it?

      • TheFormerlyKnownPoster-Jordan April 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm

        Looks like the jokes on you.

        Next time read the embedded link, before posting condescending comments.

  • Hah, I also had the April 1st doubts about this one. Turns out after a bit of googling it’s definitely pre-april 1st. Thanks for sharing!


    Do your research. Industry has used legos with kanban concept for years.


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