One of the best time saving, and perhaps even life saving things I did was implement 50 minute and 20 minute meetings. The emphasis was on 20 minute meetings as the rule and 50 minutes an exception.
The old saying “the fish grows to the size of the fish bowl” applies to meetings. Most people schedule 60 minute meetings. Why? It’s the default setting in most scheduling apps. What happens? Meetings extend to the length of time that the meeting is scheduled! Funny how that is, eh!
The obvious benefit of 50/20 minute meetings is more effective meetings and staying on topic, however, the real reward is that you get 10 minutes between each meeting, for, well, whatever you need. That maybe a coffee, a washroom break, checking and responding to emails, making quick calls, conversations, preparing for your next meeting.
Try it! It’s simple but GREAT!
Leave a comment with your best time saving or personal planning tip.
Many are starting to return to their company facilities these days, finally! However, many organizations are bringing their teams back gradually over a period of time. Some have team members that won’t be returning to company facilities at all and will continue to be working remotely indefinitely.
What’s your 100% remote plan involve? Leave a comment below.
I recently picked up some great advice from Darrell Keezer, Founder of Candy Box Marketing that I think was very insightful and may prove helpful to many. Darrell said:
“it’s not about working from home versus working from the office…
…it’s about working from anywhere”.
Talking with many leaders and clients recently, it does seem to be a common situation where it may be rare to have entire teams physically together at the same time. Sometimes, this is because some of the team work independently servicing the client base. Perhaps they always did, even pre-COVID. Or it could be because some people will rotate in office days between team members. In other cases, some team members will have new options of working remotely. The point is, that post COVID, the definition of where the work is done has changed. As leaders, we need to be prepared to lead our teams and provide the necessary tools and processes to create and maintain effective teams when they could be working from anywhere.
In addition, Darrell said that even if only 10% of your team is working remotely, you need to plan as though 100% were working remotely. When team members work from anywhere, it is very easy to feel forgotten, be overlooked, disconnected, or even disadvantaged. So we need to develop engaging ways utilizing both technology and human interaction initiatives to keep people engaged and connected.
“10% remote/virtual = 100% remote plan”
Working with a client recently, we had a core group in the board room and several others that had called in on TEAMS. Facilitating within the room, we were mapping out a current state value stream map. We were hand writing on different coloured sticky notes and laying out the process on the wall. We even set-up additional cameras directed at the wall so that those on the line could see what we were doing in the room and be engaged. Guess what… They spent most of the meeting looking at my back as I placed and moved the sticky notes around. It was impossible for them to see what was written on the stickies any way. They were very disadvantaged and quickly withdrew from most of the discussions.
The next day, we made a change. Essentially we assumed we were all remote. We conducted the value stream mapping using a very effective on-line collaboration tool. For those in the room, we projected the on-line view on the board room big screen and they followed along from there. Those in the room did not have their laptops open so that we had full engagement within the room. For those on-line they could see exactly what everyone in the room saw as we “shared” the view virtually. We had another big screen projecting the TEAMS gallery view so those in the room also saw the faces and body language of those that were remote. Those that were remote had a gallery view of the room so they could also see everyone in the board room. This small change leveled the playing field between those physically in the room and those that were remote. Engagement and active participation went up dramatically!
What’s your 100% remote plan involve? Leave a comment below.
Whether for personal or business purposes, with every New Year, there is an opportunity for all of us to make a fresh start! Are you prepared to take it in 2022?
Personally, I’ve never really been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. There are many statistics out there with some studies indicating that up to 80% of resolutions fail. Why? My view is they are usually just statements made without any real plan to achieve, lack support mechanisms, or don’t have new habit formation actions, to mention just a few.
I’ve set annual goals and objectives both personally and within my businesses for many years now. I’ve learned a lot over the years and have developed what I have found to be a pretty good process. Often due to our busyness or just plain procrastination, the hardest part is to get started, so I thought I’d try and assist you by providing some of my previous posts on topics that I think can be very helpful at this time of year.
Getting yourself organized – Time management & weekly personal planning
6 Must have’s for any planning routine – If you are in need of getting yourself better organized so you stay in control and get the right things done, these 6 key points to incorporate in your planning process will be helpful.
An effective leaders to-do list – We all have “things” we need or want to get done on a regular basis, but often we lose track of them and they fall off our radar. This article gives an over view of a very powerful leader tool, that is sadly too often overlooked, not understood, or assumed to be only for manufacturing. Not giving it away here so as not to discourage you from checking it out first!
Free personal organizer/planner download– Free down load of the template I use for my personal organizer and weekly planner. If you don’t have one, this should give you a good starting point that is ready to use, or you can easily revise to fit your personal needs.
28-Day Habit Tool – Forming a new habit is always challenging. We’ve worked with many people over the years to help them form new habits using the 28 Day Habit Tool. Set a new habit and track your progress. Reflect daily as to the barriers and challenges you faced completing the new habit and keep at it. If you miss any day… don’t despair, but rather reflect, come up with mitigation, and move forward with the habit, BUT… reset the 28 days and start again. Continue until you achieve 28 consecutive days of the new habit.
Leadership Hacks – Getting your stuff together – a 2.5 hour live virtual seminar with over 50+ proven tips and techniques to get yourself organized and stay in control without having to spend a career figuring it all out.
Setting goals and objectives – Personal or for business
Reflections vs Resolutions – A critical step before setting annual goals and objectives is to first reflect on the previous year. In my opinion, reflection is far more important than any resolution. In this post we discuss why resolutions typically fail and the steps to conducting a good reflection.
We took a bit of a post break over the summer but will pick-up where we left off talking about leading problem solving in non-manufacturing environments. This is post #4 in the series. If you missed the others or need a refresh, here they are:
A core responsibility of any leader is to help identify problems and challenges for their teams to get engaged and resolve. A great way to do this is through gemba or “go & see”. If you are not familiar with this term, we will include some links on the topic at the end of the post. Gemba can be done alone or with your team. There is a place for both.
One of the many purposes of gemba is to look for evidence. Evidence that things are going well, and to identify opportunities for improvement. If done regularly, you should be able to discover needed improvements before they lead to a significant situation or crisis. When it comes to opportunities, you are looking for standards not being followed, lack of standards, or signs that there is a some form of abnormality that is not being addressed. Let’s look at examples of each.
All companies have some form of standards, policies, or rules that are documented and employees are expected to follow. However, far too often we don’t use gemba to check on them to confirm if they are being followed or not. If not, why not and what do we need to do? As a result, a crisis or urgent situation is usually when we take action, dropping everything else to attend to it.
Here’s a very common example where a company has a smoking policy which states smoking is only permitted in the designated smoking areas. It’s easy to assume that the policy is being followed, until an employee lodges a formal agency complaint against the company that they are entering the building every day walking through a haze of smokers at the front door that needless to say are not in the designated smoking area. Your day, just evaporated!
Using gemba of this nature is to take a walk and look for evidence. Not only do you observe people using the designated smoking area or not, but is there evidence that this standard is not being adhered to? How? Are there cigarette butts outside of the designated smoking area? Can you find cigarette butts near the front doors or other non-designated locations? If so, this is evidence that the standard is not being consistently followed and action is required.
This is beyond a 5S issue with cigarette butts on the ground!
While doing so, you may discover other unrelated evidence that you weren’t expecting. For example in this picture, there is remnants of yellow caution tape on the hand railing. Why? Upon further investigation it is determined that these steps often ice over and so the stairs are closed. However, is this addressing the root cause? Is this a good solution? Again, further action is warranted.
The second evidence gemba is about looking to find where there is a lack of standards or absence of good practices currently in place. Gemba of this nature may begin with a specific focus item or theme, or a simply a search for any abnormalities.
For our example let’s assume that we are leading a team that works on confidential new product designs. The team has doubled in size in the last year. Although there isn’t currently a standard or policy in place, it’s always been the practice to secure confidential information at the end of each day. In this case, you may want to do a gemba of the work place to see how many confidential documents, files, drawings, etc that you find unsecured after the team leaves for the day. Based on the evidence found, action may be required.
The last evidence gemba is where we want to find problems or opportunities before they become a big deal. There are two effective ways to do so. The first one is very easy and is guaranteed to reveal exceptional opportunities. Do a gemba and just talk to your team and simply ask “What frustrates you?” They will tell you! These frustrations are problems that are bubbling and definitely already distractions, but if left without action, will eventually become a significant issue.
The second way of finding problems or opportunities is to walk the work place looking for abnormalities and then think beyond the obvious for possible explanations and/or ask questions to solicit insights from them. The potentials here are endless and somewhat dependant on the environment and work performed. Here’s a brief list of some common potential issues in non-manufacturing environments:
Team using makeshift materials for laptop/monitor stands or creating their own stand-up stations – evidence of potential ergonomic concerns and/or inflexible workstations.
Excess paper in the recycle bins next to printers or photo-copiers, evidence of potential frequent equipment jams or poor printing capabilities.
Team members searching for documents, materials, or equipment to perform their jobs, sharing of the same between them could be evidence that the team has outgrown the previous levels of core essentials to efficiently do their jobs.
After you have used gemba to gather the evidence in any of these 3 scenarios, it is time to engage the team to understand the root cause, determine appropriate actions, and to implement the necessary changes to drive resolution to solve the problems and make improvements.
For those interested in learning more about gemba, please review the following articles:
As a follow-up to our 2nd article in the “Leading Problem Solving in Non-Manufacturing Series” that described the acronym “TIM WOODS” as it applies to non-manufacturing environments, this 3rd article in the series will explain how you can teach your eyes to see these waste form in non-manufacturing areas and then how to engage your team in problem solving.
An important skill for leaders is to learn to “see”. This means seeing beyond what most people see, or at least a different perspective of the same image. Teaching your eyes to see is a learned skill, that once mastered, opens your eyes to many new things.
So how do you learn to see? Practice.
The first step is to Go to the area in which work is performed and go with a specific purpose to learn to see. For example, go with a focus to see one specific type of waste from the TIM WOODS definitions as summarized below. For more examples of each type of waste in non-manufacturing areas, you may want to review the previous article here.
So what do you do if the work is done on a computer? Go to computer and observe what is done, how it is done, the steps involved, information required, etc. You can learn a great deal from observing any type of work. Observing someone doing data entry or programming, can be enlightening to see, what they experience. It could be glare from overhead lighting or sunshine, large numerical entries prone to errors, system delays while background analysis takes place, excessive clicks to complete a desired task, etc.
The next point is to dedicate an appropriate amount of time to see a very specific focus. I’d recommend no less than 30 minutes, and more appropriately 60 minutes depending on the area you are reviewing and the people being engaged. However, it’s less about the size of the office area, and more about giving enough time to really see and observe the various forms of waste. Sometimes, depending on the type of waste, you need to observe for a longer period of time before the waste actually takes place. For example, to see wasteful “transportation” or employees walking around looking for information they need to do their job, likely only occurs periodically. Unless you are just lucky enough to be there at the right time, you will miss this type of waste unless you observe long enough.
Look for that specific focus that you determined and only that focus. Resist the temptation to “wander” or make a “laundry” list of everything you see. When you see the specific focus items, ask yourself as many questions as you can about that particular item. See beyond the obvious. Look for deeper meaning, symptoms, evidence, or abnormalities. Ask “why” many times to understand what is really happening.
Although efficiencies and personal productivity can be improved by engaging in TIM WOODS in non-manufacturing areas, I’d suggest it’s less about that, and more about reducing employee frustrations and distractions. Employees will become more engaged, energized, and happier! Of course, if your employees are engaged, energized and happier, they will be more able to focus on their work tasks resulting in improved efficiencies and personal productivity.
This type of activity is something you can practice on your own, together with your team, or engage your team to increase engagement, awareness, and sustainment long term.
Often leaders in non-manufacturing areas struggle with what to put on their Leader Standard Work (LSW). This is a great one to add – “Conduct TIM WOODS audit”! Whether it be weekly, monthly or otherwise, adding to your LSW and integrating it with your calendar by reserving time in your calendar makes for very effective leadership.
Team engagement can be done by establishing an audit type system (similar to a layered process audit) where the TIM WOODS focus areas and office locations are pre-determined and an audit frequency and responsibility schedule/matrix is made up. In doing so, each team member will be have the responsibility to conduct a TIM WOODS audit on a specific focus area, in a specific location, at a scheduled interval.
When repeated often and with a new or different focus you will soon see these forms of waste naturally and without effort. Once you learn to see, you won’t be able to turn it off.
The next step is to engage your team in problem solving to resolve the cause of these wastes by implementing a “Problem Solving Auction” which includes the following key points:
Prioritize and select a limited number of top items, recommend 6 or less open at any given time.
“Auction” off ownership of action and agree upon completion dates.
Document and distribute the action plans as detailed above, make visual physically or virtually.
Problem solve after the auction, not during.
Follow-up, close out actions, recognize successes, repeat.
To get you started, you can download our TIM WOODS audit sheet from our Tools page.
In the next article in this series we will discuss “Looking for evidence through gemba” in non-manufacturing areas.
If you missed the previous articles in the series, ‘Leading Problem Solving in Non-Manufacturing Series”, you can find them here: