How Much of a Company’s Daily Time Should Be Dedicated to Improvement Discussions?
Implementing lean methodologies in an organization is a time-consuming process, and it’s always an ongoing project, rather than a one-time activity. This makes it very important to approach the problem in a disciplined, structured manner. Time should be treated like the valuable resource it is, and it shouldn’t be wasted on pointless meetings and reviews that get nowhere.
One of the key aspects of a good lean organization is the ability to properly structure its time when it comes to their daily and weekly improvement meetings. Things won’t line up perfectly at first, and it will likely take a few tries to get things going, but organizing those meetings appropriately is a huge step in the right direction.
Should we meet every day?
In the beginning of the lean implementation, it will be important for everyone to maintain a good overview of the process, and to ensure that any issues are raised and communicated as early as possible.
It makes sense, in that case, to hold more regular meetings, perhaps even every day. However, as the organization’s mastery of lean concepts strengthens, and this propagates down to all layers of the employee structure, it will likely be more practical to make the meetings more spread apart, and summarize recent events more succinctly.
Of course, this is a highly individual situation. Some companies may find it more appropriate to keep their employees together more regularly for a longer period of time. As long as progress in implementing lean is adequately measured, and everyone is on the same page with regards to where the company is going, this shouldn’t be a big problem.
Don’t create additional waste!
One common mistake in attempting to implement lean methodologies blindly is to make those daily meetings too long without a good reason. Every meeting should ideally be recorded and measured at first, in order to determine how much time is typically spent on different issues. From that, the organization should be able to come up with a good average meeting duration in a relatively short time span, often by the end of the first week.
Time is not the only resource that can be wasted on improperly organized daily improvement meetings. Everything should ideally be kept as simple and streamlined as possible, so that employees aren’t burdened with too much additional information and problems that they need to handle.
After all, brainpower is not unlimited, and employees will find it much easier and more straightforward to get back to their regular tasks if they don’t spend every morning struggling through a meeting they find boring and ultimately pointless.
Which brings us to the next point – it’s important to listen to what your employees have to say about the situation, but you must also know how to filter that feedback and pick out the parts that actually matter.
Filter through feedback carefully
Your employees will likely have a lot to say about the way you’re going about implementing lean, especially in the beginning. The influx of comments can sometimes be overwhelming in a larger workforce, and it’s important that the leader has the ability to maintain a clear head and avoid getting lost in a whirlwind of opinions.
To that end, being able to filter through the feedback received is a critical skill, and a good lean leader should spend a lot of time building up their experience in this area. When people are flooding the scene with their inputs, knowing how to tell the good opinions from the irrelevant ones becomes a truly valuable asset in the leader’s back pocket.
Implementing lean in a company, and ensuring that all employees are always up to speed on the latest developments doesn’t have to be a difficult task when the core method of communication – the regular daily meetings – is organized in a thoughtful manner.
The time required can vary from company to company, so there is no correct answer to the exact amount of time. The key is to make sure the time is valuable for everyone in attendance. We’ve seen wasteful meetings that last only 10 minutes, and very engaging meetings that last 2 hours.
Spending some time and effort on polishing this aspect of the organization’s lean efforts is guaranteed to result in more noticeable improvements than any other activity related to the lean process, especially in the beginning. A strong organization is founded on proper communication, and regular updates with clear agendas and purpose. A good lean leader should realize this as early as possible in their career to help their organization embrace improvement more quickly.
What does your organization do for meeting reviews around Lean and Six Sigma? Add your comments below…