Effective Meetings are they a myth?

During the early 1990s when I was working as a Group Leader in Manufacturing Engineering in the Bosch plant in Curitiba, Brazil, ISO 9000 was not yet our standard. We had three systems to follow – Cummins, Ford and GM Systems – all principally the same but different in specifics. Even those days, as it is today, every customer audit used to be quite a stressful time. Apart from this, with a rather low process maturity, a lot of drama combined with emotional discussions used to be quite normal.

In this chaotic environment, I had initiated an open discussion with my colleagues from Manufacturing Operations, Quality Control (not Assurance!) and Materials Management to find a way out of this situation. We discussed for hours before realising that we must create a guideline for our meetings. The checklist we created then me even today and I thought of sharing this, since in many companies I visit now, the situation is not different than the 1990s!

  • Clarification of the meeting topic and expectations
  • Visit the GEMBA, the happening place, and sense the spirit
  • Go back in time to understand the history of the current reality
  • Analyse the using the basic Q tools
  • Think through the possible decisions and strategies
  • Think through the positive and negative effects
  • Think through the implications and risks
  • Attend the meeting, this with thorough preparation

I wonder how come these basics are still a huge challenge to many teams and many organisations. I wonder if the exponential hastening of the clock speed with technology is the cause, the abundant distractions today are the cause, the ever-widening gap between knowing and doing is the cause or finally focussing mainly on cost to compete is the cause. Whatever be the cause, each one of us can make a difference even today!

Happy Reading!