In a previous blog post, I explained why and how I routinely had a team briefing before every service period in my restaurant. You will have noticed that I tagged this ‘gemba’, because it is based on my personal experience and not any research evidence. But of course, as a professor, I would like to know if briefing the team in this way does, or does not, improve performance. Can the time, effort and cost involved be justified?
As far as I am aware no one has researched this and published the results (unless you know otherwise?). So if I was still a full-time academic, or the Operations Director of a service business, here’s how I would go about testing the productivity of team briefings. I’ll continue to use the restaurant industry as an example, but the principles could be applied to any type of operation.
Testing any ‘intervention’ (in this case team briefings) in the real world is a challenge, as it is very difficult to control the other variables that may affect outcomes (in this case operational performance). So I’d try to conduct three different ‘experiments’, each of which could give insight into the research problem.
- First, I’d try to find a restaurant chain in which team briefings were established policy. For instance, I believe TGIFridays do this. I would then take a small sample of top performing outlets and weak performing outlets in which to survey managers and employees about the team briefings. The proposition being tested here is that respondents would be significantly more positive about the briefings in the high performing outlets than in the poor performing ones. Of course, this of itself does not ‘prove’ a link between briefings and performance. Employees working in high performing outlets might be more positive about every thing to do with the operation.
- A second study would take a sample of outlets in which team briefings were not routinely held, and on a random basis introduce such briefings into half of them. This creates two groups – the ‘control group’ that does not have briefings, and the ‘experimental group’ that now does. The proposition being tested here is that the performance of the experimental group will improve at a rate greater than that of the control group.
- Finally, I would try to execute a different kind of intervention in a chain of outlets where briefings were routinely held. Again they would be a control group, but in this study the experimental group would comprise outlets in which managers received training and evaluations with regards to how the briefings were conducted. This tests the proposition that implementing briefings in the ‘right’ way is key to success.