One important element of the Last Planner® System contributing to increased workflow reliability is the Daily Coordination Meeting, also called the Daily Huddle. The huddle is intended to be a brief, typically stand-up, meeting between groups of interdependent performers, at which each, in turn, shares what commitments they have completed, what commitments they need help with or cannot deliver. The huddle is important in all phases of the project, and is done within a design squad or construction crew, and between front line supervisors of design squads or construction crews.
This post focuses on the construction phase, and huddles between construction management superintendents and trade crew leaders. Some crews are tempted to hold the huddles in the field office. Here are some reasons why that is a poor idea.
- Field office huddles take more time. Trade crew leaders need to leave the place of the work, travel to the field office and once the huddle is complete travel back to the place of the work. Lean thinkers will recognize that extra travel as waste. An additional time consideration is that field office meetings are often sit-down meetings, and sit-down meetings have a way of inviting necessary conversation.
- Field office huddles limit the opportunity to see concerns firsthand. If a trade crew leader needs help with completing an operation or making an adjustment to the workflow for the following day it is much easier to work through and agree on an adjustment when everyone can directly see the work.
- Huddles in the field make the daily planning and learning more visible to the crews. It’s important for people to see that workflow reliability is a concern and that leaders are engaged in supporting the work of the crews. People cannot see that when the meetings are behind closed doors.
- Huddles in the field are one more opportunity to be in the field observing the work. Seeing what is happening in the field is a far better way of understanding how to improve workflow than seeing what is happening on a computer screen or plan table.
- Huddles in the field are an opportunity to mentor newer and assistant superintendents. Many projects will require more than one daily huddle at certain stages of the construction. This is a chance for the senior superintendent to let less senior members of the team gain leadership experience.
Lean project daily huddles belong in the field.