Recently my family went on our first ever skiing/snowboarding trip to the mountains. After several staycations at nearby Table Mountain, Saskatchewan, we all felt the pull of the “big hills.” We decided to try out Fernie Alpine Resort in southeastern British Columbia during the recent Easter Break.
Despite our gumption and excitement to take on this new terrain, the size of the ski hill (10 lifts and 140 runs) and over 3,500 vertical feet of terrain were a bit intimidating. So, too, was the fact that we were spring skiing and the avalanche hazard at the time was moderate.
My 13-year old son was the most nervous of us all. Nature has already delivered our family one nasty blow, so his anxiousness is real and reasonable (for him). We had the good fortune of riding up one of the longest chairlifts with a seasoned, local skier who patiently took the time to talk to us about avalanche science and what the ski hill does to ensure skiers’ safety.
He talked about — and pointed out — many things. But one thing in particular that caught my eye (and my son’s) were these signs (or visual controls, to use some Lean parlance):
Fernie attracts skiers from all over the world, so they have to think globally when creating signs with zero room for misinterpretation. How ingenious: a yellow sign indicating caution or warning that you are skiing in avalanche terrain and a red “STOP” sign warning skiers to stay off a run. Look closely. To go from yellow to red, ski hill staff simply flip and pull down the sign. The warning and closing signs are not only crystal clear in their intent, but they’re also two signs in one. How cool is that?
I realize getting excited about signs might sound geeky to some. Before I began my Lean training, I really never paid attention to these sorts of things before. Now I do. And you know what? These signs gave my son real-time information about where (and where not) to ski and some reassurance that his safety is a priority at Fernie.
Can you think of any similar examples of visual clues, from health care? Where are we doing well with this, and where do we have room to improve?