PDCA your meetings and get happy!

Hey there, Skill Miner is online. Today I am going to guide you through the way how to apply a PDCA cycle to operational meetings. You would say: “It seems that you are confusing the purpose of PDCA”. But I would like to risk and show you this another way how this simple LEAN tool can boost your productivity.

Short background

Many people would agree that endless meetings are one of the best ways how to avoid work and responsibility. There is no more amazingly nerving and disturbing phenomena like a purposeless meeting with no outputs and responsible persons in the end. This article focuses entirely on operational meetings. If you follow the taxonomy of meetings from this website then they would be:

  • Status update meetings;
  • Decision-Making Meetings;
  • Problem Solving meetings;

These are usually daily meetings dedicated to solving current operational problems. Any manager can have a couple of such meetings every day with representatives from different departments. In general, it is one of the most effective and time efficient ways to solve problems. You bring all the stakeholders together and save a lot of time. There is no need to reach everybody out individually.

But this is where the devil is hidden. Normally a duration of a daily operational meeting in production should not last longer than 15-20 minutes. Why? Because it is very expensive. Make a simple calculation. Take an average duration of your morning meeting in a shop floor. Multiply it by the number of people and their gross cost for the company per hour. And now multiply it by 250 days and you get an average annual cost of this one particular meeting. Reducing its duration from 40 minutes to 20 can already save half of this amount.

Agenda

Besides, people are blocked at these meetings. Instead of solving their current issues they may just waste their time standing in a circle on the shop floor. Nevertheless, there is a way how to use PDCA in such sort of meetings. What will finally lead to higher efficiency.

Below I suggest a step-by-step practical guide on how to use PDCA at your meetings to make them more productive.

Practical implementation of PDCA

Some theory before we are moving ahead.

PDCA stands for Plan-Do-Check-Act and is a tool from Lean Management. To be more precise PDCA is used as an “initiator” for Kaizen implementation. It allows to register, control and apply changes to the processes. The main goal of Kaizen is making small daily improvements. The key words here are small and daily. PDCA helps to systemize and record these changes.

Japan

The full beauty of Kaizen becomes obvious only after we see the cumulative result of all the changes implemented during a long period of time.

PDCA cycle

Why apply PDCA to operation meetings

First let’s answer the question: “Why do we need daily meetings? What are the goals?”

I would group it into 3 questions: What, Who and When must do. You might have also added Where and How, but let’s imagine that we work with a team of experts who know exactly how and where. I faced myself many times the meetings running out of control. It happens when the general line and agenda are missing. All the people are different. Some of us like to talk more, some like to listen more. But at the operational meeting, we need to average it.

Step 1. Create a short agenda

As a meeting leader or a moderator, the first thing you need to do is to create a short agenda. It is actually a planning phase. In this case, people will have time to prepare the answers.

Step 2. Create a PDCA template

It is reasonable to create a standard template for a to-do list. The number of people at the meeting shouldn’t exceed 6. This is almost an optimum for an everyday meeting. If you have to bring more people together, try to think about whether you can create two separated meetings.

Make a template that you can provide to all the participants. It can be a simple table like this one:

PDCA table

 

Feel free to adjust the template according to your taste and needs.

Step 3. Create good timing

Create good timing. Give everybody a maximum of 2 minutes to report all the important issues. It will be tough in the beginning but everybody can learn this style.

Step 4. Fill in the PDCA template

You should have in your hands a printed out PDCA template, where all the tasks are specified. At this step, you must fill in the remaining fields to define who and when must finish the task.

Step 5. Leave 5 minutes for questions

Leave only 5 minutes in the end for general questions. Most of the time these questions can be sorted out separately.

Step 6. Let everybody leave the meeting one by one

Really. Sometimes people just have to wait until the meeting is over. Even when they have nothing more to report or ask. Just imagine what a waste of time it is.

Step 7. Control the result

With such a PDCA system you can easily follow-up the tasks and see their statuses.

Step 8. Act and provide feedback

A decision-making point, where you decide whether the task is fulfilled or still has to be revised.

Conclusion

PDCA can become a very effective tool for managing your operational meetings. It will help make sure that you don’t waste much time. You will have a very transparent way how to follow up on the tasks. What is also important it will help your team to develop the same rhythm. Combine with other LEAN tools like for example 5S you can really demonstrate a considerable improvement in operations.

If you have any other suggestions for how to improve meetings efficiency, feel free to write in comments.

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