At Bluefield, we believe that the pre-start meeting is one of the most important contributors to the success or failure of a site’s asset management strategy. It’s not only the last chance to ensure that all of the work done to build the strategies has actually reached the people who have to implement it, but it’s an essential part of build a culture of proactive maintenance. Our Bluefield Transformation process is built around strengthening pre-starts.
But what makes for a good pre-start? Better yet, what makes the perfect pre-start? We asked several of our Bluefield team members that very question.
I guess perfect pre-start can be achieved by being clear, simple, transparent and some minor elements of fun makes people more engaged, involved and encouraged to be proactive.
The team needs to be engaged and for this to happen they need to feel like they own the meeting. They need to design what goes into it and run it consistently. I have a few things, which I believe are essential inclusions, such as discussion on recent breakdowns (review failed parts) and how we will avoid them in the future, discussion on work quality, safety (of course), and the expectations for scheduled work over the next shift and when equipment will go back into production. More importantly though is the feeling that the team owns the meeting and they use it to improve their teamwork.
I once reviewed a site and while I was down at the digger service day, there were many complaints about the night shift washing making the batteries to go flat which caused delays starting the service. There was a generator provided to avoid this situation but it was not used. The next day at the shift start no-one raised this issue. It occurred again and it was again not discussed in the morning meeting. The site had a great process with improvement strips and tracking of problems but this was not raised. I asked why and no-one knew. The next days they raised it and there was a reason (urban myth) that was causing the washing team to not use the generator. They got that sorted and the problem went away.
This was a great example for me of excellent process in place but no commitment from the team to use it to solve their own problems. The teams must own this meeting and use it as their tool for improvement.
Engagement is key. The worst pre-start is one where the crew is being “talked at”, and it’s up to the facilitator of the meeting (usually the shift Supervisor) to drive this interaction. In my experience, it’s a skill that doesn’t often come naturally, but also one that isn’t often a focus of personal or team development/training either.
I could not help but share the story about the worst pre-start meeting I witnessed. At the start of the meeting, a senior supervisor threatened to sneak up on people and catch them out doing the wrong thing with isolation. What an incredible amount of damage he did to the culture in those two minutes.
Another nod for engagement. From the perspective of large group pre-starts (40+ people) the concept was always simple clear messages around three topics: performance (Metrics etc), jobs for that shift and concerns.
Bluefield have several short videos available on the topic of pre-starts (and how they contribute to the Bluefield Transformation). Watch the videos by Dave Archinal and Steve Flannery, two of our experienced regional managers.