Friday, 9 October 2015

Process Improvement Events – why?

What are they?
We run the majority of our projects via Process Improvement Events, these are run over three to five days consecutively. Needless to say,  they can be difficult to schedule and pose some challenges for covering the day job of our attendees.

The entire project team attends the whole event, which gives consistency and continuity. The event is opened by the project sponsor who reminds the team about project scope, hope the project fits strategically into the institution and remind the team that they have been given the authority to make changes.

Staff from the Process Improvement Unit facilitate the event. We are impartial, lean thinkers who actively steer the team through the problem definition and solving process from a lean perspective.

We insist that the team set some ground rules at the beginning of the event, usually around break times, confidentiality, how decisions will be reached and use of mobile devises. This can feel quite strange at the beginning of the event but early always proves a useful way of ensuring that the team focuses and works well together.

We apply a methodical approach to our Process Improvement Events; first stage involves unpicking the process and understanding the process problems from everybody’s perspective and creating a situation where there is shared understanding and ownership of the problems. We try to get the data in advance of the event, but often have to gather more data during the event.

The next stage involves creating shared vision of the perfect process, often unattainable in the short term but it gives the team a goal for future continuous improvement activities. We also identify an improved practical process that can be implemented within about six months. Alongside this, the team produce a very specific action plan to allow implementation, a communications plan for stakeholders and specific actions around gathering future state data to measure improvement.

The team also prepare and deliver a presentation for the project sponsor. This is to achieve two main objectives, firstly to explain to the sponsor what the team has created and what actions are necessary and secondly, the team find it a helpful exercise to review, confirm and create a record of the outputs and benefits.

The events are a fantastic way of creating a strong focused team over a very short space of time, we document all of the key outputs of the event, so nothing is lost and it is accessible to all.  In my humble opinion they are the most effective way of achieving a strong project team with collective responsibility for improvement activities.

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