In manufacturing, we are used to major projects taking months from prototype to production. Without fail, this involves weekly meetings with internal personnel like managers, operations personnel, floor managers purchasing and of course, the customer. This usually means getting half a dozen people in the room to solve problems, delegate and usually make some committee decisions. Heck, we struggle to cut an hour off the setup time for a part but have six folks with ties sitting in a meeting for an hour to discuss it. We all know this isn't the most efficient way to communicate. Do we even know if it's effective? Is this just our comfort zone? Here at PEKO we are well aware of the costs associated with getting so many people in the room for an hour each time.
Liane Davey, with her post in Industry Week, has an insightful article titled "Meetings Aren't Meant to Drive People Crazy" touches on some really important points about meetings in any industry that are a real challenge. Things as simple as stating the purpose and objectives of the meetings often go overlooked, or fall prey to tangents and loss of focus. She also mentions how they can be a breeding ground for conflict. I think we can all agree. Manufacturing is ripe for this because of the uncertainties, opinions and different personality types found in engineers, floor managers and program managers.
"For each item, mention the purpose of the conversation, any decisions that were made, and the next steps, owner, and timelines for what needs to be done. "
Overall a great read because meetings can be overused and over-abused in any industry. One important piece of the puzzle is called "closing the loop". Meaning after any meeting, there is usually some outcome and action expected. But more often than not, no one is following up to see if these tasks have been completed or how effective they were.