Ways to make TIERED meetings effective

Ways to make TIERED meetings effective

Daily Tiered meetings are an integral element of Daily Work Management. To sustain a Lean culture in an organization, DWM is a must and Tiered meetings are an essential part of it. These short stand-up meetings which do not last more than 10 minutes on the Gemba, also pave daily accountability for Gemba owners in the processes. When this tiered meetings and Daily accountability process combine with 4M Standardization, Visual Controls & Leader Standard Work, it provides a strong foundation for creating a Sustenance culture. This will facilitate easy transition to practicing DailyKaizen.

However, the stark reality is these tiered meetings are not effective enough. The effectiveness of tiered meeting is largely driven by the leader. When we say, tiered meetings, we mean meetings at multiple levels of hierarchy or leadership. As we are aware, Tier 1 is usually comprised of direct workers & supervisors (or team leaders). In Tier 2, it’s the Value Stream Leader who leads the meeting with supervisors & support functionaries. In this level, we will be covering broader aspects. In Tier 3, we have the Plant Head leading the meeting attended by Value stream leaders. Here again, the focus will be much wider

One is unaware on how to start or from where to start. Always initiate by briefing what went good (no need to brag) & highlight what went wrong. Any visual that lacks the desired condition & actual condition is only a display. If we were able to make out the abnormalities or gap in the conditions, then it is Visual Control. If we are able to make a judgement out of the display, then it is termed Visual Management.  The very purpose of tiered meetings is to monitor the process performance metrics on a board – Visual Management. We are not about to have a visual display. When this visual board is supplemented with a daily task accountability board, it becomes effective.

Let us see how we can make the tiered meetings more effective. KAIZEN™ is all about culture and culture is a collective habit of a team. Our habits drive our behaviour. So, the leaders who conduct tiered meetings have to develop certain behaviour in order to make the meetings more effective.

Standard work: Without standardization& self-discipline, no continuous improvement will survive. Hence, tiered meetings too should have their own standard. Standards in terms of time, duration, frequency, agenda & required visual boards should be prepared. None is allowed to violate or deviate from the standards unless they are modified & recorded. Identify what to measure. Discuss only those issues where the gap between desired condition & target condition is high.

Discipline is very important. Be punctual to the meeting and once the time (duration) is over, the meeting should be terminated even if you are in middle of a discussion.


Story telling: In Kaizen, we always say, “let the charts speak not the people!” Just like a comic strip, we need to have visuals that speak for themselves. Hence, there is no need to elaborate the obvious. This is excess processing. A good visual performance metrics makes it clear of the desired level, actual status, and the trends and whether we are in the right track or not. However, the leader’s job is to put together all these metrics, say result indicators, process indicators & sub-process indicators. More focus should be given to the process indicators as a process well did ensure good results. At times, the leader may have to go beyond the metrics on the board as to drive Lean thinking among the team members.


 Lock it:We cannot afford to discuss the same issue again & again, day after day. This is MUDA. We have to eliminate the problems from its root so that recurrence does not occur. Defining the problem in the right perspective is essential. Defining the problem in the right spirit solves half of the problem. Then, root cause analysis. Identifying the root causes, listing out the counter measures, validating the counter measures, assigning the implementation, implementing validated counter measure, reviewing & evaluating the consequences of implementation completes the entire cycle of PDCA. If the benefits are not upto the expected level, restart from the planning phase.

If the benefits are as per estimated levels, standardize the process – initiate the SDCA cycle. The leader must ensure that the problems are solved and locked forever. This might require a separate KAIZEN™ activity or this can become a KAIZEN™ project.

The team leader should engage as many people as possible in this problem solving exercise as to develop more problem solvers. Engaging people in the meeting is too important. Another way of building leaders is to take a turn for leadership. Thus everyone becomes a leader and the behaviour gets built in.

Tier meeting participants need to keep their eyes open as to see Waste and flex their problem-solving muscles. The meeting is an opportunity for the team to reflect on the past day, anticipate the next day and discuss issues, problems and opportunities. One cannot enforce these behaviors but can be induced. This is the responsibility of the Leader. By doing so, the tiered meetings can be made more effective.


N Gopalakrishnan

Value Stream Leader

Education & Training Vertical

Kaizen Institute India

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