Thursday, 31 January 2013

Let there be light, paint and coffee

Last time we wrote about the difficulty we had experienced in identifying and ordering the table and chairs for our meeting room. Well, our next five day rapid improvement event (RIE) will be held in the new meeting room, and time is of the essence to complete the work.

In spite of the snowy weather, delaying the delivery of chairs, we have managed to maintain momentum. What else does a meeting room for a LEAN Rapid Improvement Event need? It may seem obvious, but one of the main requirements is wallspace. Having clear walls for process mapping and post-it notes is preferable: pictures, windows and other fripperies are distracting, and can impact on people’s understanding of the process. One of our colleagues recommended whiteboard paint which can be applied to walls; after further investigation we were able to source the paint. The paint dries quite rapidly, but needs five days to ‘cure’: once this has happened, it transforms the entire wall into a whiteboard, an ideal surface for post-it notes and also to write on with whiteboard markers.

We have also noticed when running meetings elsewhere that lighting has an impact on the mood of the room, and perhaps, more importantly, on whether you can read what is written on the walls. We consulted our colleagues in Estates, and they identified some wall-washers (bright lights) that can be placed along the edges of the walls, to illuminate the wall. First fix happened yesterday and final fix is due to be completed tomorrow, which is the last working day before the RIE.

We mentioned, in our last blog entry, that it is is important for our participants to be comfortable, this includes providing appropriate refreshments at meetings and events. We discussed a number of options to ensure that people can get their caffeine fix, and agreed that a hot drinks machine was the most suitable piece of kit to buy. We sourced a hot drinks dispenser that offers an array of hot drink choices (a variety of coffee blends, hot chocolate and fruit tea options), the helpful supplier delivered a temporary machine on Wednesday (he has had a delay with the supplies) and we have been promised our own machine by mid-next week.

We may need to have a very early start on Monday morning, to bring things all together; but we are so incredibly impressed with how supportive and inventive colleagues have been in helping us get this far.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Table and Chair Shenanigans

We have our next Rapid Improvement Event (RIE), during the first week of February, which gives us four weeks to get the meeting room ready. Since before Christmas we have been looking at different types of tables and chairs. Who would have thought this would be such a minefield…?

The tables need to be robust, yet light enough to move about, for group work. We have looked at tables that fold down, and seem to risk trapped fingers at every opportunity, tables with wheels, great idea but they have the manoeuvrability of a shopping trolley; what is the optimum arrangement for eight people sitting around a square table, how much space is comfortable? Every new table style presents more questions rather than offering solutions.

Chairs are even more challenging, our criteria is comfort (really important when running an RIE), light enough to be easy to move around or with wheels and we are agreed that we like chairs with arms… We have been amazed at how sparse the information is in the specification sheets, it is really hard to make any decision without seeing the chairs. We now have an assortment of chairs wending their way to our office, so that we can make our final decision

No doubt our strict requirements are infuriating our colleagues who need to source these items, but it is vital that we get this right. Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ identifies the fundamental requirement to satisfy people’s physiological needs. Our participants will be in the room for long periods of time during an RIE and their comfort is an essential component; this will help to create the right environment for working together to improve our processes.