Sunday, February 08, 2009

Two Golden Geese

The longer I work in and study Lean systems, the more I am drawn to the amazing applicability of a few basic practices. It's as if I own a goose that lays golden eggs; it takes only half a brain to realize I'd best nurture this goose well.

And in this case, it is not one goose but two.

The first goose is the daily start up meeting.

Taking only six to eight minutes, a work-group leader gathers all of her team members at the start of the shift. She then does a very short and prescribed thing each day. Standing next to a visual display of work group information, she greets the team, sincerely. She briefly discusses the previous day's work, how the actual results compared to the planned results. She then describes this day's plans. She asks the team about any schedule issues which might affect their work that day. She answers any questions or makes a point to answer them later. She then wishes everyone well at the start of the day.

Every day.

Why does this work? It sets the tone. It answers the most basic of questions about the work day. It resets the minds and expectations of the team members from the chaotic world outside of work. It is a point of daily contact.

It's an egg of gold, at the start of each shift in each work group.

The second gold-producing goose is the simple workplace walk through.

I've done this for years and it simply never fails to improve something; either a question answered, an insight I gain, an improvement to be made. And it costs nothing but time.

The walk through is exactly that. A leader getting to the place the work happens. Literally. To a place he can touch the work and, literally, have his elbow touch the elbow of the person doing the work. If elbows don't touch, it isn't close enough. When that close, the leader must see, hear and sense the reality of the work place. And, once doing that, things improve. Always.

What is really amazing here? Both geese are free. Public Domain, baby. No intellectual property rights violated. Both can start now. No seminar to go to. No consultants to pay. You decide...and the goose is yours. From that point, you just feed and care for the critter. And daily get a gold egg.

I'm talking to myself. And to you.

Go enjoy the gold.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Two great pieces of advice.

Readers: make a promise to your peers that you will start every day with a huddle and you will visit the place of the real work at least daily.