The power of the red pen
Green is good, red is … ?
April 29, 2021
Digital DMS
Digital DMS Launch
May 11, 2021
The power of the red pen
Green is good, red is … ?
April 29, 2021
Digital DMS
Digital DMS Launch
May 11, 2021
Show all

Physical Distancing Challenges Stability of DMS

Physical Distancing

A year ago, when we were in level 4 lockdown, the physical distancing protocols challenged the operational stability of the essential businesses that remained open, but not in the way you might think.

We all remember the stories of companies that hurriedly installed partitions between staff on factory lines, we remember the dots and arrows on the pavement leading us into the supermarket in a distanced manner. It was visibly disruptive, but businesses were also forced to change practices in other ways that affected their ability to be successful daily, which largely remained invisible.

So how were physical distancing protocols further disruptive? A lot of businesses stopped or significantly downscaled their daily stand-up meetings, or DMS as we call it. In operationally stable environments, disruption and variability are ‘evil’ when imposed on you, and process-focused organisations are in a constant fight with variability. We have written extensively on stable operations (“the gift that keeps on giving”), and the role of the leader to create the environment for (and lead the team through) the implementation of stabilising practices like DMS, Standard Work and 5S. A well implemented DMS lays the foundation to jointly review the performance issues at hand, what to do about them, get clarity on the plan and generally ensure the team is ‘together’ on this.

In this fourth Digital DMS instalment, we build on the main position of our previous article on Digital DMS: that emulating the DMS red/green experience in a digital format or virtual environments is not easy, but a prerequisite if you want your teams to own performance.

In our earlier articles on DMS – “What is a DMS?” and later “Are your Toolbox Meetings on Steroids?” – we showed the power of involving your team in taking charge of daily performance. Stopping DMS meetings takes away the main forum where continuous improvement thrives. So how do you emulate the DMS red/green experience? How do you maintain the tactile and social environment of daily management meetings in a digital or virtual format and prevent the erosion of their effectiveness?

The next best thing after being physically together is to remain socially together. This involves active interaction around a topic of meaning or purpose. The central focal point in traditional DMS – the visual board – can be replaced with a touch-screen interactive display. Set-up like a DMS board, team member can scribble, add red/greens, add post-its, complete reviews and otherwise interact as normal: from any device, from any location. This works in physically distant settings, like multi-site organisations, and in physically distanced settings, where pandemic protocols require us to be apart. We have said before that we have found the solution for ‘digitising the power of the red pen’. Productivity People will reveal on the 12th of May who the leading international provider is we have partnered with to bring a world class Digital DMS process and IT application to New Zealand.

A year ago we learned that social distancing was not the right term, and that we really meant physical distancing. We now know that being physically distant does not mean socially apart, and that the human spirit overcomes challenges like no other species. This is true in any setting, and especially in the setting most important for businesses: how to improve and sustain business outcomes for all stakeholders.

 

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