I recently had an opportunity to advise an IT department on their overall lean initiative. While no two organizations have the same lean journey, there are common challenges. Visual management and huddle boards are components of a lean management system. Here are some of the common challenges you can expect to encounter and tips for success:
“Perfect is the enemy of good.” You must be willing to experiment and get messy. Visual boards take many shapes and forms. Do they help you focus on the right work and metrics as a team? It’s less important that they look pretty to the outside observer.
Standard framework with room for variation. Even if there is a standard for what all huddle boards in your organization should look like and include, there must still be room for variation by unit or team. What’s important to one team may not be important to another. If you’re ready to get started and wonder if there will be an organization standard at some point, don’t wait for it. Just get going and adapt later if a standard appears.
Find metrics that are meaningful. Ask yourself a few questions. What problems are you trying to solve? What do you need to measure to track progress and show improvement? Shining a bright light on a specific metric may cause some angst, but if it is one that needs to be measured to improve, shine away.
You are there to solve problems. Be sure your huddles are not a place where people feel beat up. Create a culture of improvement that is blame-free, transparent, metric-driven, and focused on doing better for your employees and your customers. Be willing to tell the “ugly story” about something that doesn’t work as well as it should. Figure out how to improve it, implement the changes, and measure the results.
Celebrate your wins. Carve out a place on your board where you can highlight successes and celebrate what you’ve done as a team.
Be creative and have some fun with it. I’ve seen huddle boards that take on a sports team and car racing themes. The potential for team ownership is that much greater when people can have some fun with it.
If you’ve got a huddle board story or picture to share, I’d love to hear about it.