You may have heard of Andon signals as an integral tool on a lean manufacturing floor, a simple light arrangement to provide feedback about a machine's current state - often in the customary traffic light arrangement: red, yellow, green.
These are operator driven, so if and when the employee finds a problem they change the light's status to alert the machine maintenance team to help immediately.
So why not use this in a meeting? I tried this first with a planning team which was working on a series of issues about which there were some strong opinions and disagreements.
I started the meeting as its facilitator, explaining the role of Andon board on their manufacturing floor and then brought out my Andon devices: simple colored plastic cups, stacked with green on top to start.
I explained how the colors worked to indicate their current level of support for the decision at hand, and encouraged them to keep themselves and me informed of their position on a real-time basis by changing the top cup as they saw fit.
We began the meeting, and clickety-click, the top cups changed colors and we were off. As the meeting progressed the cups changed to green, then to yellow, then back to green and so on. No red cups, to my surprise.
The trick here is to provide an impersonal way for people to express their personal opinions. It may sound silly, but it does work.
I like to challenge the meeting participants to get themselves to a green cup. Influence the team with data to help you end up with a group decision that you support.
Searching for and finding more helpful ways to think about how teams conduct their business can provide substantial benefits to the team members and their organizations.
Book: Collaborate – Tools and Techniques for Productive Meetings, available on Amazon
Independent trainer and meeting facilitator John Canfield helps clients build high performance business teams. Find out more about he can help your company or organization at www.johncanfield.com and www.goodthinkingseries.com. Call or write 616-283-5588 | firstname.lastname@example.org