Meeting I Never Miss: Morning Production Meeting
Who: Terry Pope, Operations Manager, RF1 Wafer Fab, Motorola
Players: 30 to 35 functional managers, engineers, and technicians.
Frequency: Daily, at 8 AM
Purpose: To communicate quickly the problems from the last 24 hours that need to be addressed over the next 24.
Why I Never Miss It: It sets the pace for the entire factory and defines its culture. It's a daily demonstration of our ability to perform.
When Terry Pope took over at Motorola's RF1 semiconductor plant in Phoenix, Arizona, the fab's morning production meeting (MPM) was plagued by a problem common to most meetings — it took too long. That was disastrous for the hyper-competitive manufacturing operation. For years RF1 was the lowest ranked of Motorola's 31 fabs. Pope's diagnosis: people were spending too much time gathering and preparing information before meetings, only to arrive with stale and insufficient data. His solution? Instead of bringing information to the meeting, bring the meeting to the information. "We plug the meeting into the company's network," says Pope. "We let the information speak for itself, and the meeting never runs longer than 20 minutes." The results, too, speak for themselves: over the last three years, RF1 has become one of Motorola's top producers, with more than $300 million in yearly revenues.
Speed and containment. The ruling idea is to get people back on the floor.
The conference room has a direct link to the network. That way, we can instantly access real-time information about anything that comes up, and integrate it into the discussion. And we're fanatics about separating the meeting discussion from the problem-solving process — which, with engineers, can spiral out of control.
Anyone with a problem from the last 24 hours files a System Breakdown Review (SBR) on the network before the meeting.
The person running the meeting sits at the head of the table with the computer. I sit at the back of the room so I can keep track of all the nonverbal cues.
The only tie in the room is mine.
The MPM has an informal tone but a formal structure. We run through a rigid checklist of issues and display trend graphs. If an SBR pops up, the person responsible stands up and says, "Here's what went wrong, and here's what we're doing now to make sure that it doesn't happen again."
The group quickly splinters into what we call Parking Lot Meetings. Pressing issues are handled in the time it takes the group to walk from the conference room back to the factory floor.
Matt Goldberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editorial director of "Tripod In Print."
A version of this article appeared in the October/November 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.