Lean Meetings = Lean Thinking

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james-hudson-pictureJim Hudson is the founder of the Lean Expert Academy, previous partner in the Lean Leadership Institute with Jeff Liker (The Toyota Way) and Norm Bodek (Productivity Press Founder), and author of the soon to be released book, Lean 2.0: How to Dominate Your Industry Using Lea(R)n Thinking. For more details at the end of this article

One of the most impactful places you can affect as a Lean thinker, is the meeting. If you’re like me, you know that making small behavioral changes can go a long way toward shifting a person’s mindset. And because meetings touch almost every single professional in an office environment, you can have a major impact when you know how to reduce time spent in a meeting, using a small, easy-to-do pivoting shift. Here it is:

Before every meeting, have the organizer identity the exact high value adding activity that the collective group can accomplish by being together in that meeting. What will having these individuals come together, do for whatever the topic is that you are meeting around?

THIS SINGLE ACT YIELDS BIG GAINS

The basic meetings tools are still useful – an agenda, timed agenda items, meeting rules, etc. You can make major efficiency strides using those. But you will get your biggest gains with the single act of knowing what the high value add of the group is.

Once you know that, have the meeting organizer insure that all the accompanying information that is needed, is done before the meeting and then displayed visually at the meeting. The stuff that you have to have done for that meeting, but wouldn’t want to spend time during the meeting doing. Tell the participants it’s their “entry-fee” or homework or whatever, but make sure it’s done before the actual meeting.

As an example, if each person has a list of something they’ve prioritized already, get that list from them and put it up on the wall before they get into the meeting. That way, if you want the group to come to consensus on the prioritization, you can run a quick multi-vote or do some other brainstorming that only that group can do together; this allows you get right to it instead of spending valuable meeting time transcribing stuff onto the wall.

TREAT YOUR MEETINGS LIKE “OCEAN FRONT PROPERTY”

It’s kind of like doing a SMED for meetings. Do everything that can be done externally and present it visually at the meeting, so that the work that can only be done internally, gets the most meeting time. By doing this one thing, you will cut the meeting time down and instantly boost the quality of the meeting. How’s that for a fantastic hit, all attributable to Lean?

There are two other excellent steps to achieving Lean meetings, which you can find in my newsletter, but nothing gets you into the excellent meeting space as much as this first step.

In my latest newsletter, I go into more detail about identifying the value add of a meeting, and offer a free template to use as a checklist. I also cover visual meetings and some key steps for you to take, to make sure you know how to have the best meetings in the world. And that’s a really great thing to be known for, just because poorly run meetings are so prevalent. Improve a company’s meetings, and you not only drive real Lean thinking into your company, you become known as the hero who changed the company in one fell swoop.

Most people think implementing Lean is about “knowing Lean,” but it really isn’t. It’s about being able to get people to change. My newsletter is designed to give you leading edge ideas about the change it takes to implement Lean. Topics like the one in this email are discussed in detail, along with case studies, tricks that make you look like a “Lean change genius,” and up-to-date discussions about the state of Lean thinking. If you’re a Lean professional who wants to use the best ways to implement Lean, check out my newsletter here.

About Jim Hudson
Jim Hudson is the founder of the Lean Expert Academy, previous partner in the Lean Leadership Institute with Jeff Liker (The Toyota Way) and Norm Bodek (Productivity Press Founder), and author of the soon to be released book, Lean 2.0: How to Dominate Your Industry Using Lea(R)n Thinking. Jim is also the CEO of a Lean consulting company, the Lean Expert Academy where he trains Lean consultants to implement the exact methodology and techniques that he writes about. Jim’s mission is to produce as many excellent Lean thinking executives as possible – arming them with the ability to recreate what he and his team of consultants have been doing consistently for the past six years.

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