Organizations are always looking for structures that will help drive the necessary changes as well as improve the integration between various functions. There is an option out there – called the Star Point System – that creates a “dual-operating system” which takes responsibility for crossing over functional areas and linking them all together.
Years ago Proctor and Gamble developed the Star Point System to distribute the cross-functional workload (such as safety, quality, training, continuous improvement, technical, communication/HR) to team members as Star Points with an expert Star Point Leader guiding and coaching in each area (Illustration 1.1).
On each self-directed team, members are assigned to be Star Points in the key roles that cross over all functional areas. For example, a Safety (EHS) Star Point is selected on each team and those Safety (EHS) Star Points receive their direction from a Safety (EHS) Star Point Leader. If an organization has 25 production teams, there are 25 Safety (EHS) Star Points who all get their direction and instruction from the Safety (EHS) Star Point Leader.
Benefits of the Star Point System:
- Gets more people on the playing field owning critical process work for the team
- Links all similar Star Points together so they learn from each other
- Provides a leadership role as a Star Point Leader for someone “on the bench” in a specialty area
- Structures a fast way to communicate with all teams via the Star Point system
- Improves the consistent delivery of instruction and materials to all employees
- Provides mini-leadership opportunities on the self-directed teams for those in SP roles
- Accumulates deep knowledge among team members in multiple Star Point areas as rotations occur on the team
Star Point roles on the teams are typically rotated every 6 to 12 months as it takes time for the team member to become expert in the roles. Each team also identifies a back-up Star Point who learns the role and then takes the lead when the role is rotated.
Star Point Leader Duties:
- Oversee the development of expertise of the teaming Star Points in the particular area (e.g. EHS, quality, material handling, communication/HR)
- Provide guidance, coaching and resources for SPs
- Regularly meet with SPs to convey information that will be disseminated to the teams
- Report on training needs and ensure that training occurs
- Provide ongoing education and skill building for SPs
- Frequently interface with other leaders and coaches
- Provide guidance and direction in the prioritization of tasks and projects in the SP area
- Evaluate methods within the SP area and make recommendations for improvements
- Maintain metrics for SP area and convey to SPs on the teams
- Provide quick containment strategies when needed
Sample Quality/Customer Service SP Leader Duties
- Hold regular meetings with the Quality and Customer Service SPs.
- Provide guidance and resources for the SPs
- Report training needs to the Training Coach/Training Star Point Leader
- Guide the collection and reporting of data to teams, customers, and QA
- Provide ongoing education and training in Quality/customer service metrics and other quality tools
- Communicate priorities to plant support services and to the Star Points
- Maintain metrics for the Quality and Customer Service Star Points
Cross Functional Star Point Roles
For cross-functional teams, the star point roles are used in a modified fashion (see below). By dividing up the responsibilities of being on a team among many team members, the workload is shared, many are “on the playing field,” and no one person is responsible for carrying the burden of the whole team.
The Meeting/Administration Star Point:
- Ensures meeting room is reserved for team meetings
- Maintains master meeting material file on server
- Ensures role rotation matrix is completed and maintained
- Notifies team of meeting changes
- Performs file clean-up on the server/Basecamp
The Communication/Historian Star Point:
- Drafts communication emails and other materials for the team
- Maintains communication file on the server
- Ensures communication occurs with the organization on a regular basis
- Maintains historical files on the team on the server
The Quality/Measurement Star Point:
- Tracks and communicates metrics for the team on its accomplishments according to goals
- Speaks to quality issues and/or needs
- Encourages benchmarking and data-gathering are part of the team’s regular processes
The Training/Education Star Point:
- Maintains the master of all training materials and training records
- Orients and trains new members of the team when/if rotation occurs
- Helps the team identify training needs
The Technical Assistance Star Point:
- Anticipates and provides technical assistance to the team as needed
- Posts information to public folders and maintains integrity of public folders
- Communicates technological opportunities to enhance team’s effectiveness
I remember the most vivid and practical memory of implementing a Star Point system. It happened while I was in a manufacturing plant on 9/11. When the second plane hit, the Communication Star Point Leader immediately gathered all Communication Star Points in the cafeteria of the plant and informed them of what was happening. The Star Point Leader also indicated that he would be communicating with them throughout the day. Those Communication Star Points went back to their teams (43 self-directed teams in this manufacturing plant) and communicated what was happening, the expectation of the plant, the safety protocol and that there would be a constant stream of communication throughout the day. The 43 Communication Star Points communicated throughout the day with new information to their teams when it was received from their Star Point Leader. The Star Point System had beaten the gossip grapevine and speculation that day and made the company look like it was in control and on point.