Often we talk about the difference between visual displays and visual control. Visual displays mean information is shown, while visual control means information is acted on.
One type of visual is the metric board where we represent the actual versus target, another is the andon which physically warns us of an out of standard condition, while a third type is a physical indicator of the state of the operation versus standard such as a kanban square. In all these cases we are seeing the actual versus the standard and as Jon says we need a system of response to contain the problem and then a system to close the gap between what we desire (the standard) and the actual. This ultimately depends upon the discipline and training of people to improve the process or system or value stream in the desired direction. We could say that the total process of defining targets or standards, setting up systems to alert us to gaps, and then ways of improving based on the gaps is shop floor management.
One interesting issue that is raised by Mike Rother’s kata method, and Toyota Business Practices, and the improvement methods is the difference between longer term movement toward a desired state, over months or years, and reactions to immediate gaps that occur as the day goes on. If we had a very well designed system of highlighting deviations from standard we would constantly see gaps and we could spend all our time reacting to those gaps. We need some way of prioritizing which gaps to contain, which gaps to notice but not react to immediately, and which gaps we will intentionally focus on toward improvement objectives.