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Definition

catchball

Catchball is an approach to decision-making in an organization or group where ideas are pitched from one individual to another throughout the group’s hierarchy and divisions. Part of lean strategy, catchball  is based on the simple, non-competitive game of catch in which players toss a ball among themselves.

Catchball provides an inclusive way to share information and ideas among teams or members at all levels of a company. The process is intended to encourage those who have ideas out of their area of specialization to share them. In this way, catchball helps generate good ideas that might otherwise go unheard.

Regardless of where an original idea originates in an organization, catchball offers many individuals and departments the chance for input and starts a process of two-way feedback. This exchange of feedback about ideas and their development serves to anticipate issues and helps to further refine ideas. While the sharing of ideas, information and critique is common in business, catchball adds an informal but also more standardized structure to the process.

Catchball is most suitable as a process for complex projects when many departments are going to be involved. During lean strategy stages such as value stream mapping, standard work development and Hoshin planning, Catchball can help processes flow more smoothly. It also helps even out opportunities to speak and helps avoid interruptions. As a result, the approach can also increase employee engagement and productivity.

 

This was last updated in February 2018

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