Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Mystery of the Bicycle Book..

Yesterday was our Service Strategy Board, where we covered a lot of business in a couple of hours. Looked over the objectives for each Service Area for next year, which will form the basis of all of our operational plans and objective setting in our SRDS process which is about to start.  We also looked at a new Service portfolio which changes our service headings, and consists of a description and value statement  - hopefully to make it easier to communicate our value to our senior management.

This morning I went to a presentation from one of our Sheffield Leader cohorts at the end of their project work. Very interesting analysis of how we can improve communication and collaboration across the University in order to work more productively together. For example, analysis of the work shadowing programme had shown how valuable it was in increasing understanding of what different work areas do. During one of the discussions we were talking about barriers to improving processes through working together, and we touched on the importance of the question "why". Why are we doing this, why are we doing it like this, etc.  An amazing story came out, which hope is true.  It goes like this.  During some process improvement work on a reception desk at a hospital, it was noticed that everyone who cycled to work signed a book - the bicycle book. When asked why, the reception staff admitted they didn't know, it had always been done, and books were sent to HR. HR admitted they didn't know why reception sent the books to them when they were full, but they carefully boxed them up and stored them. After much investigation, the signing of the bicycle book was traced back to the introduction of rationing during the second world war, when people who cycled to work were entitled to extra rations. And so it had carried on, for nearly 60 years!! That little question, "why?" is so important.

This afternoon I've been in a long meeting of the SMG for The Diamond. We're approaching the design freeze in only a couple of weeks, and everything has to be finalised by then. By the end of May, the whole design must be agreed, with only the interior finishes and some fit-out subject to
further discussion. Getting really exciting now - great to see it going up, the concrete slabs are being poured, the cores built, and a section of the facade has been built and tested successfully.

1 comment:

Chris Barran said...

Here's a story that is true regarding process improvement. During the second world war the Army Operation Research Group produced a report on the effectiveness of anti tank gun drills. They showed that the work could be done by three men rather than six.
Those responsible for this 'waste' of man power pointed out that it had take 20 years to get enough men assigned to their units to do the cooking, bring up ammunition, handle other chores. They recommended that the report should be burned.
Another study showed that one member of an artillery crew simply stood motionless during drills. It turned out his job was to hold the horses -- in a unit that had not had horses for 20 years.
http://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/pdf/10.1287/opre.35.3.453