Organizational Opportunities from the Frontline Story 9: Focusing Management Attention | Operational Excellence Quick Hits
Quick Hits share weekly tips and techniques on topics related to Operational Excellence. This week’s theme relates to focusing management attention. We hope you enjoy the information presented!
Speaker 1 (00:07):
In today’s session, we’re going to continue on the series on organizational opportunities, stories and lessons learned from the front lines. Today’s story comes to us from a company that’s a configure to order environment. Configure to order means that the product is already engineered, and when they get the specific company requirements from the customer, they configure that to the customer’s requirements.
This company had a production meeting every day that included about 12 managers and supervisors, and it lasted about an hour and a half. During the meeting, they would go through almost every job that was released to production and talk about that job and when they could expect to complete that job, and so it was just all this time. It took about an hour and a half with 12 people, so that’s 18 hours of management attention that’s in this meeting. What can we do to improve this situation? We’ll talk about what we did to improve this situation.
First of all, I want to talk about creating focus. What limits organizations from making significant improvement? It’s management attention. Management attention is being able to focus on what should be done to improve the company performance and not focusing on what shouldn’t be done. So with 12 managers in this meeting for an hour and a half, that’s a lot of management attention that’s wasted, and it was basically going over the status of everything that they really didn’t need to do.
How do we improve that? First of all, what we want to do is we want to understand what’s normal and what’s abnormal. We need to be able to deal with the abnormal conditions, but to understand where the abnormal conditions are happening, we need to understand what is normal. A normal condition occurs when a process is operating inside its normal operating limits, and it’s being able to describe what good looks like. And of course, abnormal means that it’s not operating inside its normal limits, so it’s outside its normal limits. In order to understand when an abnormal condition exists, we need to understand what normal looks like.
Of course, when we incorporate visual management, we can use visual management as a technique to allow for communication through site without verbal communication. A good visual management system allows anyone to understand the current situation of the process, and it uses visual aids to display the status. If we can see the status of the process and we know what good looks like, then we can understand what abnormal looks like. And so good visual management, anybody can look at the situation and understand what’s going on without asking questions, so any person should be able to identify that situation as normal or abnormal.
In this case, they had this production board that they stood in front of every day for the meeting. What we did is we modified this board to incorporate visual management. These jobs are represented by these cards on the board, and the cards move from top to bottom as they move through the value streams, and they move left to right according to time. Of course, these two black lines here represent almost like control limits. If they’re inside these two black lines, it’s normal. If they’re outside the black lines, those are the jobs we talk about. So in this case, you can see there was three or four jobs here that needed to be talked about because they’re outside the limits.
What the colors mean is that the black means that the orders are late. Red means it’s in the last third of its production lead time. Yellow’s in the middle third. Green’s in the first third. And so of course, these black orders are late and these red ones are about to be late, and that’s why we talk about them. Anything inside the limits doesn’t need to be discussed. That’s how we incorporated visual management, and what was the effect? We took the meeting from an hour and a half to 15 minutes. 12 people at 15 minutes is three hours of management attention versus 18 hours of management attention, so we freed up 15 hours of management attention to focus on other issues.
Of course, when we focus on those other issues, we can correct those issues and start to become more and more stable. This is how we incorporate that into the system. Of course, we cut the meeting to 15 minutes, so how do we cut a meeting to 15 minutes? Here’s some techniques for effective meetings. First of all, come prepared to the meeting. Don’t start preparing 10 minutes before the meeting for the meeting. Come prepared, ready to talk about what your role is in the meeting. Have an agenda.
This one, we have a standard agenda. It’s five minutes talking about action items that were supposed to be addressed yesterday, five minutes to address any abnormal conditions outside the boundaries on the board, and five minutes to talk about the upcoming jobs to be released in the next couple of days. That’s the agenda every day. We have a facilitator, a scribe, and a timekeeper. The facilitator facilitates the meeting and takes them through the agenda. The scribe is keeping track of the notes and the timekeeper’s making sure that we stay on time. We take notes in the meeting and action items in the meeting, so you don’t spend time after the meeting doing all the notes.
We start and end the meeting on time. We focus on the abnormalities and don’t solve the problems in the meeting. If there’s a problem, you assign an action item and solve the problems outside the meeting. And lastly, practice W.A.I.T. What does W.A.I.T. stand for? W.A.I.T stands for why am I talking? If you haven’t seen this before, here’s the flow chart for W.A.I.T, which means why am I talking, which is guidelines to run better meetings. And so it starts out and says, “Why am I talking? I have something really important to say and/or I have a very strong opinion to share.”
If the answer is no, then why am I talking? If the answer is yes, is it the correct time to do that? If the answer is no, of course, why am I talking? If it is time to do that, then be concise. Also, on the other side here, why am I talking if I have an on-topic contribution? If no, why am I talking? If yes, is it my turn? If no, why am I talking? If yes, did someone make that contribution already? If yes, why am I talking? If no, please be concise. If we practice this in the meetings, we can have much more effective meetings.
That’s our session for today, bringing up management attention, focusing on abnormalities, correcting problems outside meetings, and making meetings more effective. Again, you can connect with me on LinkedIn. Visit our website. Go to our YouTube channel, which is under Future State Engineering.