As and organization transitions to a Lean management system many of existing structures and practices change. Teams and individuals begin to work together in new, more disciplined and more effective ways. One of the most important changes early on in the transformation is the requirement that team member participate in a Daily Huddle. Having a Daily Huddle is a simple change, but for manage teams and managers it a profound change. Many of these team members have never been asked to do more then their daily work activities and many of these managers have never been asked to lead their team in daily improvement. Thus the Daily Huddle represents a new way of working which like all changes can be difficult to get started.
A Daily Huddle is time each day that the team comes together to work through the PDCA cycle. The team discusses the plan for the day and makes sure everyone is on the same page. Additionally the team checks the results from the previous day/week/month and problem solves what can be done more effectively. Finally, it is a chance for the team to make adjustments and improvements to their daily work practices including training on new processes, etc
When teams first get started Dailey Huddles are often awkward and teams don’t know what to do. My experience shows it often takes several months for teams to get engaged. The good news is that over time teams learn to become reliant on Huddles and most would tell you it is time well spent.
Below are a couple of tips to consider when you first get started:
- Make sure that the huddle topics are relevant to the team. This means that most of what is discussed needs to relate to the daily work. For example: who is here today, who called in sick, what is our expected demand, what problems came up yesterday, etc. Often managers spent too much time talking about improvement projects and teams lose interest.
- Reviewing visual systems is an important part of an effective Huddle. Often early on in the Lean transformation teams done have robust visual systems. Don’t dismay, having the huddle will provide a context for getting the team to take ownership for Visual Systems. Ask them what information they need to know to manage day to day and then incrementally improve the visuals.
- Keep the Huddles going, even if it is really busy. Often I see managers put a hold on Huddles when it gets busy. This sends a wrong message to the team. In fact, the busiest days should be the days that Huddles are the most important.
- Finally, as team members to rotate responsibility for leading the Huddle. It should not always fall to the manager. This helps teams begin to self manage.
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