Let’s have a meeting to kill meetings!

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]Meetings….UUUGGHHHH.  There have been many posts about meetings and how many you have indicate the health of your

operation.  This is one of my favorites from last year by Dan Markovitz at Timeback Management.

It seems everyone gripes about them, even those that call them, but we all still keep having them?  Some are necessary but we should always try to minimize based on trading our valuable time in gemba for sitting in a conference room.  If I can get your help, I’d like to do a little cyber group analysis and see if we can’t eliminate some meeting waste, hopefully without even having a meeting about it!

I would like to boldly suggest you perform a simple 5 why on your individual meetings.  Start with the ones that your feel don’t add value from the eyes of the customer!  If you would, please post your root cause findings of your meetings.  If you have some countermeasures you have put in place, please list them as well!  I’ll compile and republish the results and maybe we can find some nuggets to help us all to kill some meeting time.  I know Dan was worked this exact issues with A3’s.  Hopefully this may be a simpler method to get more input and help.

I’ve experienced some success in areas over the years.  We had some meetings that we did every week just because that’s what was always done before.  We just plain quit doing some and others we decided to change the frequency from weekly to monthly.

We also changed the format of many of our meetings.  Instead of trying to solve a problem from the conference room and basically wasting an hour, we changed to a reporting format only.  The reporting was around two things:  1) what problem we wanted to work on by showing the gap between current performance and where we wanted to be, and 2)  what countermeasures were implemented and how the change affected the gap.  No problem solving allowed.  We saved that for on the shop floor with the experts:  the operators!  Huge help in reducing the frequency of the meetings, the length of the meetings, and also improving the results on closing identified gaps!

Those were the easy meetings to change.  For some of the more difficult ones we are trying to perform 5 why analysis like below.

Problem Meeting 1:  Saturday production meeting for plant leadership creates 6 day work weeks which results in an unhealthy balance of work and family life for participants.

Why do we have meeting? To see how the factory performed the last 16 hours between our 3:30 Friday afternoon meeting and Saturday at 7:30 am.

Why? So if some area is performing poorly, we can direct what actions need to be done to get back to meeting takt time.

Why? (We feel like our) front line production leadership doesn’t make the decisions necessary to “get it back in the middle of the road” without our input.

Why? Front line supervisors are tentative to make decisions because they have been chastised (here) when they have made “incorrect” decisions in the past.

Why made “incorrect” decisions? Our culture is void of visual systems and basically totally system averse so it is very difficult for our supervisors to see problems and understand what the best decision would be to counteract the problems.

Why system averse? Our processes are wildly erratic and systems are very difficult to maintain without feeling major pain of missing production targets.

Why? Our company’s culture is one that typically only cared about the result of meeting the ticket versus caring about the process in which meeting the ticket was made.  “Just give me results, I don’t want to know about your problems to get them.”  (Root cause, for this analysis anyway).

Countermeasures: 1) Implement visual “red / green” systems at operator level so problems can be seen early and fixed before becoming major issues.  Currently in process.

2) Implement pull systems to stabilize the process.  (Much of our decisions are about where are the parts I need from the previous process to make product)  Currently in process but implementing by area instead of by end to end value stream.

3) Stabilize the process by teaching engineers, group leaders, and supervisors 5 why problem solving to eliminate the root cause of problems instead of currently having them create short term work arounds for each problem and then fight the same thing again next week.

4) Improve decisions by making it easier to see the process limits by simplifying quality documents and implementing control plans at operator stations.

5) Stabilize the process by implementing SPC at the critical process areas to reduce problems at the downstream operations.

This was a big one with many complicated branches I used as an example, but there are many more simple ones.  Please give it a try on some of your non value added meetings.  You can fill out the following form, post in the normal comments, or even email me your 5 why on whatever form you tend to use.  I will organize and publish the results.

Hopefully, working together, we can kill some of those dreadful, life sucking meetings!




3 Responses

  1. Bryan,

    I’m working with a client on meetings right now, and would love to learn the results of your “crowdsourced” solutions. Can you publish the feedback when it comes in?

    • Yes. I know there are some unique solutions to this huge time waste out there and will definetely organize and publish!

  2. Sorry. Having technical difficulty with the form.

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