The 9 Step meeting agenda if you want to actually get something done other than talk for an hour and then schedule another meeting:

  • Clearly define the condition we are trying to improve in measurable terms

We can’t fix “receiving is all screwed up”. We can, however, to fix “11% of the items processed through receiving are sent to the wrong location”.

  • Clearly identify the process creating the unsatisfactory results

If we are going to fix receiving we have to start with issuing the P.O. or other release to the supplier and track how that information flows back into receiving, and then how the goods are physically moved to where they are supposed to be and all of that is transacted through the system. We have to look at the entire process, and can’t just look at the isolated point at which the problem is seen.

  • Be sure everyone involved in the process contributes to the solution

This is simple common sense and Golden Rule stuff. We can’t understand and correct the problem without having all of the folks involved participating; and we wouldn’t want people getting together to change the processes in which we are involved without giving us the common courtesy of asking for out input.

  • When possible go and observe the process that is resulting in the problem

Sometimes the problem is within the ether world of the computer, or at a supplier location that is geographically impractical for us to visit. 99% of the time, however, we can and must go observe the process in order to truly understand it.

  • Agree upon the root cause of the problem

The most important step in the exercise. We will probably have to do a lot of discussing and debating, but there is no point in changing anything unless we all agree it is the root of the problem. Changing anything else might make us feel good but it won’t accomplish anything and is apt to compound the problem.

  • Consider all reasonable ideas for solution/improvement

Locking in on one idea – our idea – and then defending it against all other ideas is perhaps the most common destructive practice in group efforts to solve problems.

  • Conclude with specific action items

Otherwise, what was the point of the meeting?

  • Create or revise the Standard Work for the process

The only way to be sure the correction/improvement sticks

  • Leave with a specific plan to follow up and measure the results of the solution that was implemented

The second most destructive practice – assuming our solution was perfect. Odds are it wasn’t. We need to loop back around and check things out in order to see if the improvement worked, or if it needs a bit of tweaking (or perhaps going back to square one).


Follow these 9 steps – every time – and not only will problems get resolved a whole lot more effectively, you will actually begin to see the culture start to change.

And one last thing – this doesn’t mean everyone except senior management. It means especially senior management.