2021 Business Leadership Award
Productivity People proud to sponsor 2021 Business Leadership Award
April 19, 2021
The power of the red pen
Green is good, red is … ?
April 29, 2021
2021 Business Leadership Award
Productivity People proud to sponsor 2021 Business Leadership Award
April 19, 2021
The power of the red pen
Green is good, red is … ?
April 29, 2021
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Are your Toolbox Meetings on Steroids?

two workers in front of a toolbox meeting board

The ‘Toolbox’ meeting is a practice most organisations have adopted. Often used to explain who’s working on what today with some general announcements, they’re usually top-down and one way. In the best cases toolboxes are informative and instructive, in the mediocre cases we have lengthy and unstructured chats over coffee slumped in chairs sneaking glances at our social media feeds, and in the worst cases they are a blame-fest or don’t happen at all.

In continuous improvement language when we describe toolbox meetings, we talk about Daily Management Systems or DMS. In an earlier post we explained what a DMS is, and how this benefits your organisation. We often talk to new clients about their toolbox meetings, and suggest we put them on steroids. What are the major changes between a traditional toolbox meeting and a DMS, or a toolbox-on-steroids? And what do our clients say are the benefits?

  • Toolbox-on-steroids are performance focused – we don’t just look at the plan but also look at the last 24 hours’ performance. We help define measures that are relevant for the team, are a descriptor of a ‘good day’ and have a line of sight to the business strategy. The visual board is the scoreboard similar to those we see at our kids footy or netball games, but often fail to spot in businesses.
  • Toolbox-on-steroids follow the visual management rule of “5 meters 3 seconds” making it transparent, improving communication, and increasing accountability. The visual boards become the place from where we demonstrate PDCA, or plan-do-check-act. They’re great reminders for our actions, plans, gaps. It’s the first place to check when you have been off work.
  • It is a conversation between the team members and the team leader – not just a one-way instruction. We involve the team in the process of performance measurement and improvement and create the opportunity for idea generation and recognition. We achieve ownership. It is by far the strongest forum to create a highly engaged workforce.
  • Toolbox-on-steroids serve as an inflection point from the ‘home mindset’ to the ‘work mindset’. It is a leaders’ opportunity to instill energy, discipline, action orientation and goal achievement and is a reinforcement of ‘how we do things around here’. We stand up and come in close to the board; park our home worries and create focus for the next 8 to 12 hours of work ahead of us. It’s the All Blacks huddle between haka and kick-off, but with visual boards (and without the hugging…).

Toolbox-on-steroids are a sure way to create operational stability and a framework to plan all further improvement work. It’s base camp on the way to the top of Everest. No team is too small (like these two lads in Whakamaru) or too big. Every worker deserves to start their day with a forum where they can take stock on how they have done, raise concerns and ideas, gain recognition and get clarity on what’s ahead for today.

And when we’re talking about putting toolbox meetings on steroids, Productivity People will soon help you take the next step beyond that. We have partnered with a leading international provider to bring a world class Digital DMS process and IT application to New Zealand. We will be posting more on this exciting topic. Follow our Digital DMS series on our website and our LinkedIn page for updates on this.

About the author: Geerten Lengkeek is the Managing Director of Productivity People.