in Lean

Meetings? What a waste!

Nowadays most meetings have just become what the term literally means: “Meetings!”

Some people “meet”, some talk a lot, most don’t talk at all, and if after hours and hours a conclusion can finally be found, it’s the Boss who has the last word. Don’t you think this I a big waste of time?

Time in which real value could be created?

I have seen many meetings. Meetings with people coming together from all over the country. By car, by plane… most of them needed a hotel to stay overnight, as their plane would only take off the next day or they were too tired to drive home for about 5 hours after the meeting. Most of them needed to go out to eat a Restaurant, and obviously not into cheap ones.

Costs over costs…

I have seen many playing with their toys during meetings. Smartphones, Laptops… if YOU were the one speaking in front of the bored crowd, wouldn’t you want to know what all of them are doing right now? Some seem to do some kind of “Lean” – “Lean Back and take a short nap!”

That’s not what Lean is about. Lean means “sleak” and “efficient”.

But how to get a “Lean Meeting”?


First of all, reduce waste! Reduce the number of people. Don’t you think 20 are too much? 5 of them are participating, but the rest just opens mouth to say “Yep, fully agree Boss!” We don’t need such people that are not contributing at all. As a Lean-Manager you should not have parasites in your team anyway icon wink Meetings? What a Waste (Part 1)
Think carefully about who you are inviting and how they can contribute to make your meeting a success! Don’t invite just Specialists from one Division. You need to diversify. Focus on the problem and build your “Project Team”. Consider every meeting like a project, and use the same approach. Use strategic planning! A Meeting should reflect a Micro Hoshin Kanri! Define crucial points, gather as much data as you can before, and the key point: Define a Target!

If you don’t define a target, the meeting is meaningless! You can talk about an argument for days, but you will never come to an end if you don’t know what your target is. It just like Kaizen! You can’t improve a process if you do not know how the process in the end should look like!


If you hold a meeting and some of your colleagues have to come a long way, consider the location of the meeting. Obvioulsy if we want to reduce costs it is better if 3 people have to travel than 5. Look at the transfer and hotel costs. Consider a Meeting via Skype (if you have already educated your colleagues to pay full attention to the meeting)


Get rid of all the toys of your colleagues! Just take a box and let them drop their toys into it. The box will be banned from the meeting. So everyone can focus on the real problem! Because it is YOUR Meeting and you know WHY you hold it! In this moment, there is nothing more important than your meeting!

I sometimes received mails from people that are supposed to be in a Meeting. Writing things that have nothing to do with the Meeting itself. And in 99% of the cases, these were trivial emails that could have been sent afterwards. So please, no toys!


There is a certain amount of time called BREAK. You need it, depending on the length of the meeting. Consider a 10 Minute Break every two hours. Don’t take your break when other employees have their break in order to avoid Waiting time (everyone wants to get a coffee). When you say 10 Minutes, it IS 10 Minutes! Ring a bell or something. Discipline is very important! Don’t give them back their toys during break. Because everybody needs to make some ultra-urgent phonecalls and automatically breaktime will rise from 10 to infinite!

NOBODY leaves the Meeting to make a phonecall, send a mail, contact the assistant manager or smoke a Cigarette! If the meeting is so boring and unimportant, next time you should consider in replacing “The Smoker”.

But what about YOU! The Lean-Manager!

You should be well prepared, know what your problem is, go to Gemba, talk to the Gemba-people and let them participate in your meeting!

Part 2 will follow soon!
Team Arashi

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