One Point Lesson (OPL) – useful tool which also requires control

One Point Lesson is a useful tool to convey instructions in a simple and visually manner.


More and more companies are making one point lessons as part of their continuous improvement work (LEAN). A one point lesson (OPL) is a simple, visual and often pointwise description of a task. This means a standard which describes how a task should be performed. An OPL is made by using pictures, symbols, simple text and is a short document.

The main reason is that it should be easy to learn and understand, and easy to turn to during work. Several companies prints out their one point lessons and hang up them by the workstation so they are easy accessible. Use of visual descriptions is made with great success by, among others, Lego and IKEA for several years. Pictures are more easy to remember than text, and with an extensive use of pictures and a little amount of text, challenges associated with languages becomes smaller.

One point lessons is an important part of a management system and is thus subject to the same requirements for management.  It is important to know that everyone uses the same and last version of a document and it is important to know that everyone which should read the document gets all the changes.

In many companies it is they who normally perform the work which makes the OPL’s.  They know the details best and ensures that the instructions gets right, and in that way they also gets an ownership to the instructions or standards.

Standardized standards

It is smart to establish requirements for how an one point lesson shall look. By describe a standard layout regarding how an OPL should look like, it will be quicker to make new ones as the recipe is ready, and it becomes more easy to read due to recognizability. Symbols and colors in a text should always mean the same thing. If red color is used on the text, this should have the same meaning every time red is used, not just be nice to look at.

It can also be smart to start the one poiont lessons in the same way, for example by focusing on the risk related to the tasks, and visualize the order in the form of a process model.  Have a look a the example below.


Control of one point lessons

An one point lesson is a document describing how to perform the tasks in the company. That’s why they are a natural part of a management system and should be subject to the same management and control of versions, revisions and changes. It is also important to make sure that only the latest version is available to those who need to read it.

Several of our customers use INOSA software to make and control their one point lessons. Then they also gets control on who shall read and who have read the different documents.

Read more about one point lessons (in Norwegian).

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