My oldest son has been skating for a few years and started playing competitive ice hockey on a team this year. On the back of the opposing team’s jerseys was a simple visual we all recognize, a stop sign.
This simple visual on the back of the jersey is a great way to make players STOP and think before they act. As it turns out this patch on the back of the jersey is part of a program called Safety Towards Other Players developed by Kevin Stubbington in 1996.
The STOP Program teaches participants about the dangers of checking from behind and other safety tips as well as values such as sportsmanship. “Checking from behind” is viewed as one of the most potentially dangerous actions in the game of hockey.
The STOP Patch is the focal point of the program. It is a three inch wide patch that is applied on the back of the jersey, centered just above the numbers and below the name patch. It is a reminder for players to “STOP” immediately and not make body contact when they see the patch because you are in a potentially dangerous position.
In operations we use this simple visual in much the same. Whenever we get an outcome that is different than expected we must STOP and think. Lean is about uncovering issues and solving these opportunities for improvement. We have used this visual to support changing our mindset toward Lean Thinking in our factories.
Simple recognizable visuals can be effective in changing behaviors just as this STOP sign on the back of a hockey jersey or in a manufacturing plant.