In attending back-to-back meetings last week, I saw much.
Meeting one involved three of us trying to solve a logistics problem. The organizer set it up at the spot of the problem and involved just the people who had a stake in it’s solution and had the tools to fix it. We stood up for about 35 minutes, touching the offending product problem. The organizer had compelling and clearly presented data, plus she offered some solutions. The meeting had both facts and emotional punch. We settled the issue quickly and the solution was soon implemented.
I then attended a more traditional meeting. We gathered around a conference table in comfortable chairs. We looked at Power Point slides of black text on a white background. One person attending brought some product samples, which added a visual clue to the problem we were trying to solve. Yet, it didn’t have the energy or the punch of the first meeting.
Now, the Lean folks among us will say, in Pavlovian fashion, “Yep, that’ll show ya, gotta have the meeting in gemba, get to the workplace.” True. But why?
My favorite marketing writer Seth Godin wrote recently about how to organize the room for a meeting. Well worth the read, he makes the point we all walk into a meeting room, look around and quickly pick up clues about how we should behave. Often, this is at cross purposes with what we need to get done. So, he says, change up the clues! Make it look different…you’ll get a different response.
Which is why meeting in gemba so often works. It changes the clues. What do I do when I don’t have a chair? What do I do when there is noise in the room? What do I do when I’m faced with a wall full of product rather than a nicely paneled wall?
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