Tiered Meetings – The Role of Digital

Tiered Meetings

Operations Management

Daily Tiered Meetings are a key element in the Operations Management of a site, and most of our customers have some flavour of Tiered meetings. These normally take the form of a Short 10-15 min stand-up meeting. Typically they take place at the Gemba, the place where the work is taking place. So in a manufacturing context, this can be at a dedicated area in each process, or line, where there are visuals and boards for the accountability piece. For Tier 1 meetings for non-manufacturing functions e.g. IT, HR etc. they may take place at a dedicated “wall” in an open plan office. Tier 2 meetings would also typically take place in “Manufacturing” where the value stream manager is joined by all the supervisors and support functions.

We have seen Tier 3 meetings taking place in the dedicated area in manufacturing also, where the Site Lead and the Senior Leadership Team go to the same area as the Tier 1 and Tier 2 meeting, but at their own dedicated board. Other customers have the Tier 3 meetings out on a dedicated wall in the main thoroughfare – like  the corridor leading to the canteen, or the main corridor joining the reception area and offices to the manufacturing areas. The focus at this meeting would be much broader.

Tiered meetings offer many benefits: the short get-together fosters team work, meeting and communicating with colleagues is always positive – something we have all missed in the recent months. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the previous day and acknowledge what went well, and what didn’t, or what challenges there may be, and to discuss what have we on today.

Visual Displays Versus Visual Management

So, what is the difference between Visual Displays and Visual Management? Typically, the Tiered “walls” comprise of several graphs, several grids to write up issues or track actions, and some other indicators – including hourly or daily numbers e.g. output. Some of these charts may look nice and impressive but are they all adding value?

If you cannot see at a glance a gap between the Target and the Actual, then its just a Display, and not a Visual Control. Visual Management requires Visual Controls.

In addition to Visual Controls, trackers and accountability boards are essential for the Tiered meetings to be effective.


Example of Traditional Visual Management Board

We have had many discussions over the years with clients and Operational Excellence consultants over the possible use of technology in many aspects of Lean, Continuous Improvement and Enterprise Excellence to explore:

  • When can it play a role?
  • Can it be used to eliminate waste and non value-add activities?
  • Can it, in some cases, negatively affect the desired outcome of Visual Management and Tiered Meetings?

Advocates for the manual version of whiteboards, markers, some pre-printed charts and grids would argue that it gives a better sense of ownership, and people are more comfortable leading the meeting. Some parts of our brain operate differently when using technology compared to physically writing down something.

But what about all the actions and problems that get written up on the board:

  • Are they then transcribed by the individuals to take away?
  • Are they all logged somewhere ?
  • Can we see trends?
  • Can we see re-occurring items?
  • What about the graphs that are printed and put up with magnets for daily, weekly, year-to-date figures ?
  • What about being able to see the Actual versus Target clearly and in an instance ?

The Role of Technology

Can Technology…

  • supplement some of the more tactile aspects of Tiered Meetings ?
  • eliminate some of the non value add data collection, collation and creation of charts?
  • provide accurate data to report, trend and analyse specific data, indicators or issues ?
  • provide a better way of sharing the same version of the truth across the organisation ?


We are all aware of companies that moved to a more tech based Visual Management and reverted to paper. Does that mean Technology doesn’t have a role to play, or was it just implemented incorrectly?

There definitely seems to be a strong argument for using the “pen and paper” model at Tier 1 and Tier 2, and any perceived inefficiencies in terms of collection of data, logging actions, and possibly even “lost data” over a period of time, is more than counter balanced with greater engagement and the development of team work and a real culture of Operational Excellence. Many who have achieved the top accreditation and levels of Enterprise Excellence would argue this.

Whether we like it or not, people are using technology more and more in their daily lives, and specifically mobile devices. Will we reach a tipping point where people will become disengaged with the white board and marker ? Will they expect graphs and reviews of figures to be interactive and tech driven ?

Tier 3 Meetings – The Opportunity for Improvement

Which brings us on to Tier 3 meetings. In the last few months this level of the daily meetings has been more of a challenge. Some of the key participants have been working remotely, or will continue to work remotely on a rotation basis. Some of our customers have been challenging why so many people need to spend significant time walking down to the area, gowning up and then going into conduct the meeting. Is this poor use of time ? Is it really necessary? Do you invariably end up trying to “patch” someone into the meeting, or ringing a member of the senior leadership team who couldn’t attend in person and give them a summary ?

Surely technology has a significant role to play at this level, where the topics are broader, the figures are looked at in a higher level of granularity, and where the you are looking at the plant as a whole, and not just your own “production line”.

Covid-19 has thrown people into a mode where they have had to innovate and try and come up with new ways of conducting Operations Management, particularly at the Tier 3 level. Some have adopted Microsoft Teams to conduct meetings – and using the video conferencing and screen sharing capabilities. We believe that how issues are logged and tracked, how some of the visuals are implemented or generated and reviewed can be elevated by the correct and appropriate use of technology, particularly at Tier 3 – to ensure the visuals are Controls and not just Displays – i.e. are we Winning or Losing ?, What is the Trend? What are we doing about it?

The correct fusion of People, Process and Technology can lead to Digital Operational Excellence – which can deliver efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility to the site. This needs to be underpinned by a clear Digital Transformation Strategy.

Technology Can Elevate Remote Tier 3 Meetings

Digital Operational Excellence

We are working collaboratively with clients to develop Digital Operational Excellence  strategies and to see how new technologies can supplement the tried and tested Lean and Continuous Improvement tools and methodologies and deliver more benefits to the organisation. While an individual Use Case such as Visual Management and the conducting of Tiered meetings may be the primary focus, by implementing partially digital solutions, and addressing the business need in a new way, there can be many other benefits including more accurate trending and analysis of issues, KPIs and Operations Management in general.

If you would like to learn more about how we are helping our clients address their critical objectives, while also building their internal capabilities and tapping into the true potential that their own resources have to offer, Contact Us at sales@dataworks.ie or call us today on 051 878 555.

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