Lean Daily Management: Daily Huddles


September 12, 2017
By Darren Dolcemascolo

Seasoned Lean Practitioners have been working with daily management systems for many years, but Lean Daily Management only recently received the recognition it now has.  In the past, the emphasis has been on making rapid improvements quickly, but many organizations have experienced success followed by some backsliding. One of the missing ingredients is Lean Daily Management.

Daily Management is what makes continuous improvement continuous.  If there is no daily management system in place, there will not be a culture change or change in thinking.  While there are several ways to implement Daily Management, it is crucial that Daily Management includes daily activities.  One of the most important parts of Daily Management is a daily huddle.  In this article, we will talk about the basic elements of daily huddle.

Let's begin with defining a daily huddle: a daily huddle or stand-up meeting is a 5 - 15 minute meeting to discuss status of operations, plan for the day, and status of problem solving efforts to address issues.  There can be daily huddles that do not include problem solving status, but these are not the "Lean" type we are discussing here.  (Stand-up meetings exist in companies that have never heard of lean, but they typically are not meetings about improvement- only status.)

What should happen in a Lean Daily Huddle?  Typically, the team gathers around a visual management board (this typically includes metrics, problem solving, continuous improvement ideas, and process status/plan).  While there are typically multiple tiers of huddles, we will discuss the first tier in this article.  The first tier is the "front line" and typically happens at the beginning of the shift or shift change.  In this meeting, the Team Leader typically reviews the following items:

  1. Review previous period (day/shift) performance.
  2. Identify performance problems related to Safety, People, Process/Service, Cost, Quality.  Examples include things like product defects exceeding target value, safety issues such as employee or customer/patient injury, and process issues such as failure to meet production or daily service requirements.
  3. For any problems, identify responsible person/team to work on problem solving using a standard problem solving process.
  4. Discuss status of problem solving efforts from previous days; however, do not attempt to do any problem solving in the huddle.  Problem solving efforts cannot be done in a 5-15 minute meeting.
  5. Discuss current staffing and plan for the day.  This would include the required number of products to produce, patients to see, insurance claims to process, etc.
  6. Identify any improvement ideas submitted.  Visual Management boards should include a means of identifying improvement ideas.  These ideas are briefly discussed in the daily huddle.

More items can be included in the daily huddle, but this is just a basic starting point.  There is much debate to whether daily huddles should be implemented before or after a problem solving process has been established.  While I believe there are many ways to implement Daily Huddles, I recommend implementing Daily Huddles after problem solving has been established, since problem solving thinking and continuous improvement are at the core of Lean Daily Huddles.

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