Friday, 5 December 2014

Continuous Improvement at the British Library

Yesterday, I went to a meeting of the Yorkshire Lean Community of Practice. It was hosted at the British Library in Boston Spa. The meeting comprises two presentations, a tour and time to meet other continuous improvement practitioners.

The first presentation was "Creating a Customer Focused Culture - Customer Service Excellence a Case Study" by Jackie Knowles Head of Customer Services in the Information Directorate at The University of York.

Jackie outlined their on-going journey to promote and celebrate customer service excellence (CSE) from the initial idea through to getting the accreditation in March 2014 and the subsequent work. Jackie outlined the importance of having a core team, supported by champions within the department, the value of having a pre- assessment health check prior to going for accreditation.

Since gaining accreditation in March, the work has become business as usual with staff submitting case studies to demonstrate service excellence, and staff recognising that much of the process involved identifying existing good practice and sharing this with staff. An interesting conversation followed with staff from the British Library (who also have accreditation) comparing their experiences of going for the CSE award.

The second presentation was by Tim Franklin, Strategic Systems Programme Manager at The University of York on Stakeholder Management. This presentation contained really practical advice on managing stakeholders during a change management project. Highlights for me included remembering to distinguish between drivers for change and the why (the common purpose). I also appreciated his reminder about not sharing too many problems in the wider project communications. Tim said " don't tell people about your troubles, 80% don't care and 20% are glad", which made me smile.

IMG_1837.JPGWe had a tour of the British Library, which really is fantastic: of particular interest were the different ways a document may be digitised; and how the British Library manages their two hour turnaround for people ordering fast track books and articles. Viewing the crane in the 21 metre high room, which is programmed to identify and pick up the correct box which is stored in a room with no daylight and low oxygen, then send it along a conveyor belt to staff to in another room to pick the correct book/ journal from the box, digitise the information and send the pdf to the customer, was fascinating.

IMG_1826.JPGI was also impressed with the kaizen work that is happening in the operations area: lots of good visual management; use of kanban; lots of case studies of previous kaizen and evidence of a group of staff who are very proud to be involved in Continuous Improvement. I was inspired to see evidence of lean used in a practical way, every day; I'm looking forward to sharing the detail of the event with staff back at The University of Sheffield.

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