Friday, 22 May 2015

Process Improvement Workshops

Why are workshops helpful?

They offer an opportunity to focus on a process and its problems (and opportunities) by the attendees, which can then be clearly communicated to colleagues outside of the workshop more widely. By having representatives from each part of the process at the workshop it allows people to put a ‘face to a name’ making communication of future problems and questions easier. Impartial facilitation helps to keep everyone focussed on what needs to be done, ensuring that the time is spent usefully and objectives are met. As we are impartial and do not necessarily know the details of the process, we can ask the ‘silly’ questions around why things are done the way they are. We are experts who understand process design, and are able to give process guidance and advice. They also give staff time, to properly review the process, rather than trying to squeeze it into short ad hoc meetings. We document the outputs from the workshops (usually within three working days) so that all attendees have a record of the outputs.

What does a successful PI workshop have?

  • Representatives from each area of the process -  to allow a detailed and clear understanding of each process step. Usually no more that 12 people, otherwise it is difficult to ensure equal input from everyone there
  • Engagement by everyone on the team - prior to the workshop, the team needs to be clear why they have been asked to give up a whole day and why it is important
  • Respect for people - by this we mean listening to everyones input and respecting their knowledge and expertise
  • A space where people feel comfortable to question one another and to come up with ideas for improvement.
  • Clear objectives - what is the aim of this workshop and what does it need to deliver?
  • Strict timings - to ensure that everyone gets a chance to input their knowledge and experience and that the set objectives are met by the end. This will mean that issues that are out of scope of the workshop are discussed at a different time.
  • Management support - this may not mean that all suggestions for improvement are agreed to by management, but it is important that the outcomes of the workshop are considered and attendance is supported.
  • Clear outputs and SMART actions to ensure that the excellent work carried out and the time sacrifice by the team is worthwhile.

What are the possible downsides?

  • Short amount of time to solve sometimes large and engrained problems - this does mean that more work may need to be done by the team following the workshop.
  • Need the right people there - It can be difficult to ensure that the right people are present at the workshop, particularly if you are not clear what the scope of the workshop is or the problems to be addressed. Without the right people present at the workshop you can miss detail within the process and key areas for improvement. Having too many people there can just end in crowd control.
  • Unlike with our standard projects there is not usually a review period following workshops, it therefore the responsibility of the team to review the actions to ensure they are completed.
  • There is no senior sponsor, so often the team have to get authority (authorization to make the changes post workshop)
  • Very little data about how the process is currently working, few measures to identify whether improvements have been identified and incorporated.
  • No time for training about lean thinking or process mapping training
  • No time to create a wider vision about how the process should be working (which means that continuous improvement can be harder to sustain)

For more information about the different types of workshops we offer just click here

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