Much to my surprise, the response to Joe Ely's and my call for participants in our community A3 project has been, um, underwhelming. After some reflection with Joe and others, I've come up with the following possible explanations:

  1. Companies are so magnificently efficient that there's no wasted managerial time, and therefore no need for a community A3. No problem, no A3.
  2. Companies may have a problem, but have no desire to be involved with Dan and Joe because, after all -- who the hell are they?
  3. Companies may have a problem with all their really smart people stuck in unproductive meetings, but it's just not really a priority compared to all the other stuff they're doing, lean and otherwise.
  4. Companies may have a problem with all their really smart people stuck in unproductive meetings, but they're reluctant to share those inefficiencies with the public -- even the lean community.

I've ruled out #1 because having flushed more hours than we care to count down the toilet of flabby, pointless meetings, both Joe and I know better.

#2 is a good possibility. Aside from our devastating good looks and wonderful blogging voices, neither Joe nor I have double-top-secret Lean Six Sigma Infrared belts. (Actually, Joe might, but since it's double-top-secret, he hasn't told me about it.) But we're pretty good as coaches nonetheless, if only because, as outsiders, we can ask questions.

#3 is quite likely. After all, it's hard to measure the cost of waste of really smart people checking their Blackberries in a conference room for two hours instead of being out on the floor solving problems. It's a real opportunity cost, but it doesn't show up on the income statement. If this is the case, do me one favor: before you mark this RSS feed as read and move on to your next job, just try calculating how much time you've spent in the last week in meetings, and how much of it was waste.

Now, if #4 is the issue -- you're afraid of making either yourself or your organization look bad -- let me put your mind at ease: the purpose of this A3 is to share ideas for improvement with the lean community, not to embarrass anyone. We're more than happy to keep all participants anonymous. There's no need to put your name on your A3 -- we'll share the content (root causes, countermeasures, implementation results, etc. -- but not your identity.

So, with all that said, we still have room for a few more people or organizations to join us. Welcome; we'd love to have you.