Saturday, November 27, 2010

Worker-Manager Huddles: Problem-Finding

Business Week has an article about the corporate actions that are driving productivity gains across the economy. Many firms are finding ways to do more with less, and they're avoiding the need to hire as a result. At Campbell's Soup, each shift at a North Carolina factory starts with a worker-manager huddle where the front-line employees discuss ways to reduce waste, cut costs, and streamline processes. Here's an excerpt:

"The daily worker-manager huddles are about "getting everybody involved," says "Big John" Filmore, a 28-year plant veteran. "Instead of being told what to do, we get to tell people about our problems." He helped streamline production to better fit with the plant's cleaning schedules. Now operators such as Filmore review all line schedules."

To me, this quote shows how much employees appreciate being given voice and being empowered to discuss the problems that occur each day on the front lines. In my work, I talk about how leaders must become better problem-finders. It starts with going directly to the people doing the work, listening to the issues and obstacles they deal with every day, and collaborating to define the problem that must be resolved.

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