Kaizen Upon Kaizen: My Online Meeting Scheduling System

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A key Kaizen principle is continually improving through incremental improvements. When we use a Kaizen process to improve our work, we're not likely to make things perfect — just better.

One Kaizen often leads to another, as we get positive reinforcement from each small improvement. We see benefits, we feel better, so we do more improvement. We get closer to our target. Toyota Kata is a similar mindset — one experiment after another, with learning and improvement taking place.

In 2017, I blogged about my improvements to my meeting / phone call scheduling process:

This system continues to work well. I still get positive comments and “thumbs up” from people when we start a call that has been scheduled this way.

But, nothing is ever perfect. And that's OK.

One thing I have tweaked over time is using the YouCanBook.me system “buffer” in between meetings. There's nothing worse than meetings that run back-to-back (or back-to-back-to-back) with no time in between. It often means rushing off one call into another — sometimes that means cutting off a discussion with a client that could have run a few minutes over to everybody's benefit. Sometimes, it meant being a bit late to the next call, which I hate doing.

So, I had added a 15-minute buffer between meetings. If a meeting was already on the calendar from 1 pm to 2 pm, the next one couldn't be scheduled until 2:15 pm.

I had a catch-up call scheduled recently with a former colleague and long-time friend. He scheduled it for 2:15.

2:15 came and went and I didn't hear from him. Then, he apologized and realized he had missed the call. He told me:

“I glanced at my calendar and thought the call was starting at 2:30. I never have meetings that start at :15 or :45.”

Ah, great point. That made me reflect… I've made that error before (or maybe it was a near miss).

So, my Kaizen improvement is to adjust the buffer to 30 minutes instead of 15. This generally means that calls or meetings will more likely start at the top or bottom of the hour. Somebody can still choose to start a meeting at :15 or :45, but I bet this change will minimize that.

My hypothesis is that things will work better… but all I can do is try and see.

The other possible change I could make is to tweak the calendar to allow meetings to be scheduled in 30-minute increments instead of 15… but sometimes, a 15-minute is all that's needed. I'll continue to Plan, Do, Study, and Adjust…

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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