The business is a progressive manufacturing company with a sophisticated operations team supplying product worldwide.
The purpose behind this assignment was to put more structure into the way the management team met and discussed issues.
At the outset there was one meeting each week which discussed all operational issues, was chaired by the Director when he was available and was facilitated by another member of the team in his absence.
The assumption behind the programme is that meetings work at different levels and that to spend quality time with each other the team need to address issues on each of these different levels.
The first step was to separate the day to day business issues from strategic decisions and a new meeting was set up to discuss the broader issues . The purpose of this group is to explore strategic and policy matters and deal with issues which are usually demanding in terms of time.
The responsibilities of the group were defined and included:
- To develop an understanding of the vision
- To develop constructive reporting relationships
- To assign specific and realistic improvement targets
- To build bridges between the different functions
- To review the key business processes such as the playbook
The Director prepared a strategy paper for the first meeting focusing on three issues, quality, delivery performance and cost. The strategic team was reduced in size to six and prepared an action plan. Various tasks were delegated to team members.
The team now meets every three months and evaluates progress by assessing the number of actions completed on time. The facilitator attended one meeting and gave feedback including:.
- Continue to put the important issues at the top of the agenda.
- Getting commitment from everyone can become laboured and using different decision making approaches on different issues could help.
- There are times when there could be more urgency in the meeting and this might be achieved by putting time limits on agenda items.
- Who else could play the role of chair? Are there other roles to be assigned, e.g. the realist who questions what is possible or the social secretary who arranges team time outside normal working hours?
- On occasions the chair could be more demanding and less helpful.
The next task was to set up monthly one to one meetings in which each member of the team could discuss individual progress and address more personal issues. There was learning here as the agenda developed and clearer contract emerged about what would be discussed.
The third task was to reconstitute the weekly meeting. This quickly settled into a routine which discussed and made decisions about current issues. It has a standard agenda which includes:
- Delays on parts
- People issues
- Quality issues
- New product development
- Work priorities
Actions are posted on an A3 sheet and displayed in the office. These are updated on a regular basis.
“It enabled us to differentiate our meetings and develop a separate structure for each. This has provided a foundation to help us develop our new strategy. In order to continue improvement, we now regularly seek feedback on each of the different forums.”