Answer, Regular Review. That might sound like a dull answer. But I think it’s the correct one. In this article I have two jobs to do. The first is to convince you of the significant benefits of regular review. If I can do that, then the second is much easier. Namely, to provide practical help on how to implement it for yourself.

Before we go much further, what is a regular review? One thing it’s not is massaging data in Excel or a BI tool. That’s data analysis. A review is more thoughtful, personal and powerful. It uses various information sources as well as your gut to reach points of clarity. It then moves into planning, so you know what to actually do.

Do you consider yourself an effective data-driven manager? To be one, you need to wrestle with targets and goals.

I’m not just talking about personal targets and goals (which are challenging enough), I’m talking about the use of them in your manufacturing workplace. An environment of people, processes, machines and surprising complexity.

Until recently, I only thought there was one approach. Call it the outcome-based approach. In this article, I’d like to discuss a different approach, one that might suit you better. There is no right answer as to which is better. But don’t blindly adopt option 1 without considering option 2.

The problem of jumbled conversations

Imagine you're in a meeting to plan a new building. There would be discussion about consents, foundations, land, structure, cladding among other things. Now, imagine that the discussion is a jumble of different ideas all being chipped in randomly. One minute you're discussing the grade of steel to be used. The next someone says they've seen a nice new couch that could go in the foyer. From nowhere someone adds a deep and meaningful comment about how the building should lift and empower people.

Now imagine that despite all the energetic talking, a suitable roof isn't included in the project! It's an unlikely example. That's because in general, people are familiar with the design and build process used in construction.

But when the topic is using data and metrics to improve manufacturing.....

Type "running successful meetings" into a search engine. You'll get the usual list of good practices. But putting data at the center of the meeting doesn't seem to get a mention.

Let’s face it, team meetings can be the low-point of the business day. They are often seen as time-wasting opportunities for certain people to over-analyse some recent failure, lay blame on others, or justify their own actions (or inactions).

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Meetings can, and should be an efficient tool for sharing information, ideas and generating action. To achieve this, start running data-driven meetings. If you do, it could turn out to be one of the most productive changes you make to your business this year.

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