Jean is leading 2 important initiatives this summer and fall…
This post was written by Jean Cunningham. Jean is one of the founding thought leaders of the Lean Accounting Summit and continues as an important guide to the direction of this community.
Case Study: Assessing Your Huddle and
Re-Energizing with the Eight Wastes
Last week I was with a client finance team that is in the early stages of adopting lean thinking.
One of their first focus activities several months ago was to start having a weekly huddle. They created the standard work for the meeting which included the agenda. They created a schedule of who would lead the huddle each month. And they identified three focus improvement ideas.
After six months, the team did a self-reflection on the progress of their huddle, and asked me to attend and give suggestions.
First, they evaluated themselves based on the four main purposes for the huddle:
They used a simple scale of 1 to 5 (1 = hardly ever and 5 = regular and valuable), and a show of hands.
Next, they evaluated themselves on the logistics and commitment for the huddle:
Again, the same simple scale was used.
This was a very quick way to get a pulse from the entire team on their progress with the huddle. They plan to re-evaluate on a quarterly basis.
For this particular team, related to the purpose of the huddle, they felt they were doing a top job in communication and task focus. They were low in both discussion of issues, and lowest in improvement focus. On the logistics, they rated themselves very high on both attendance, as well as participation, but discounted their performance in this area because the standard work for their huddle required each person to give a short update on what tasks they were working on.
The team was not pleased with their performance. They felt they could be doing more on improvement focus. So, they decided to use the solution storming method to generate ideas on how to do better in the areas of improvement focus.
My feedback to the team was that they should also recognize that they have made some great progress. Each person talks at the meeting! That is a success in itself. Also, the meetings have full attendance which is an important indicator that everyone sees attendance as a core standard in their lean management system.
And yes, they will benefit by increasing their focus on improvement. To kick start this, I took them back to the basics of the 8 wastes. Each person was given a homework assignment to look at their own work related to the 8 wastes. Each waste they see could be a potential improvement focus. In two days, the group reconvened and shared the wastes.
If you are doing huddles, when was the last time you did an assessment of progress and purpose. I hope you will try this simple method to generate conversation about your huddle and improve your lean management system.