The client – a well-established Pharma company – had traditionally managed operations through a daily production meeting which had over time become ineffective and very time consuming. The challenge was to replace this with a Gemba management system as pioneered by Toyota Motors.
Highly visual key performance indicator (KPI) boards were installed in all areas of the plant including back offices.
Every morning, starting at 08:30, a series of 15 minute stand up ‘Gemba meetings’ take place across the plant. The meetings are scheduled beginning closest to the customer i.e. shipping first, then packaging and work back stream until all areas have been covered.
The meetings are conducted at a standardised KPI board which details a summary of the areas’ performance for the previous 24 hours. In attendance at the meetings are the leadership team specific to the area along with support representatives from maintenance, quality and engineering. Production associates also attend on a rotated basis.
Following established best practice the first item for discussion relates to any health and safety issues, followed by quality, and then a review of each cell’s performance. Any issues, actions, or suggestions which arise at the meeting are written up on ‘action cards’ and pinned to the board on the target completion date. This eliminates the need for minute taking. At each meeting the card owners are required to read out the card and give a status update.
At 12:45 there is a daily Senior Leadership Team update meeting where the senior managers are joined by the site leader for a critical issues update using the exact same meeting template. These Gemba meetings serve to keep the leadership team focused on the site’s objective of exceeding customer expectations.
Senior management are rostered to attend the morning Gemba meeting for four main reasons:
To keep abreast of the critical operational issues affecting the plant.
To observe at first hand if the meetings are being carried out in line with the company values and that they are conducted openly with good interaction and teamwork.
To provide support and direction, ensuring that decision making is based on data and scientific thinking where applicable.
To coach and develop employees by challenge established thinking where necessary and providing positive feedback.
It is important to note that the morning Gemba meetings are chaired by the area supervisor, and the senior management representative is much more a guest than an active participant.
Meetings are more focused with greater accountability, teamwork, and urgency.
Senior leaders are now more aware of any issues which may affect the customer and can intervene at an earlier stage to provide support.
Supervisors and production associates are more engaged with the leadership team, and bring forward more improvement suggestions.