Thursday, April 22, 2010

Join us in an experiment to cut meeting time

Intriguing idea often come through unusual routes.  The idea in this post is one of them.

When I was at the Lean Summit in March, Jim Womack spoke quite passionately of a need to move beyond just the tools of Lean to an emphasis on Lean Management.  How do we better use the principles of Lean to run our companies, not just make our products?  This got me thinking much.

One evening at the same event, I finally got to meet Dan Markovitz, a cool guy and fellow blogger, author of Time-Back Management.  Dan has a real passion for how we use Lean to manage our time and do a much better job of getting knowledge work done.  We had some marvelous conversations, discovering many shared interests.  

Dan published a wonderful post last week; Meetings: The Plaque of an Organization.  In it, he quoted one of my heros, Peter Drucker, who wrote:

Too many meetings always bespeak poor structure of jobs and the wrong organizational components. . . if people in an organization find themselves in meetings a quarter of their time or more — there is time-wasting malorganization.

This lead to further conversations.  We all know that inventory, per se, is not waste though excessive inventory is waste.  Similarly, some meetings are necessary but excessive meetings are true waste.  And, since we know we can often cut unexamined inventory in half with little ill effect, can we do the same with meeting time?  We want to know.  So, acting on Jim Womack's assessment that "management is learned by experimentation, not by dogma", we are posing an open, on-line experiment. 

Dan and I  invite you and your group/company to join us in a group experiment to see if we can lower the quantity of meetings in each of our organizations. 

Here are the details:


  • To reduce the plague of meetings so that we can, you know, actually do some work


  • Participation is limited to the first eight companies (or groups) to respond
  • All members of the lean community are welcome to review the A3s at any time, or comment on the open access Google Doc


  • Dan Markovitz & Joe Ely will provide the problem statement for the A3 (this creates a uniform starting point for all groups)
  • Each company works simultaneously on its own A3
  • All A3s posted and readable (but not editable) on Google Docs to anyone who is interested during and after the course of the project
  • Comments/updates/funny cat pictures can be submitted on a separate Google Doc so that everyone can read them

Timeframe (75 days):

  • Target launch date: Monday, May 3
  • Target completion date: Monday, July 12
  • Two weeks to fill out the left side of the A3 (background; current conditions; goal; analysis)
  • Eight weeks for Do-Check-Act (proposal; implementation plan; follow up)
  • Report out/reflection by July 19

If you're interested in joining us, please send an email to Dan Markovitz (dan ATSIGN or me (joeely618 ATSIGN with your name, organization, and contact information.  We'll send you the link to the Google Docs area with the A3 template and problem statement.

Questions?  Comments?  Contact either of us

We hope you can join us.

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