At this (relatively) quiet time of year, we take our chance to review how we operate and see how we might improve our services, and Jules has been looking at standardised approaches to projects, like Agile and Scrum:

“As an ex-management teacher, I’m familiar with the pros and cons of applying specific business process models. It is usual for companies to try this type of change when in crisis:  they are overloaded so they are missing deadlines, staff are de-motivated by the pressure, so quality of service is dropping, the Bank have called and it wasn’t just to say hello… You get the picture. In extreme circumstances, sometimes extreme action is necessary; but most of us resist change so this is tricky to achieve.  However, since we at KI are not in extreme circumstances and are just doing a routine health check to see if there is room for improvement, my feeling is that something small and gradual may be in order.

“Which brings me to Kaizen (Or KI-Zen as I’m thinking of calling it), otherwise known as Lean.  Now there’s a lot (and I mean a lot) of material out there in Internetland on Lean business operations, and in so much detail I would not attempt to summarise it in a short blog.  But I am drawn to part of its basic premise; gradual change for improvement.  The idea is to identify an area of workflow which appears inefficient in some way or seems to consume too much resource or creates a bottleneck; then introduce a change and stick to it religiously for a period of time (I believe 21 days is the magic period to create a new habit), to assess whether it makes a positive difference. If it doesn’t, try something else. Test early. Fail fast. Move on.

“The challenge now is to try and see if we have any entrenched habits or processes which made sense at the time they were introduced (or perhaps never really made sense but just evolved into habits nobody questions) to work out if we can eliminate them or do them differently to become quicker and better.

“That made me think that I could probably do with a bit of Lean in my personal life. This weekend, I’m going to start by breaking the habit of bothering about my atrocious parking. I now have a car with 360-degree cameras, but even that doesn’t stop me needing a space big enough for a tank.  It seems to me that just abandoning the car after my first attempt will save me so much time and stress, by not making those five additional manoeuvres and still needing a taxi to take me to the kerb – a prime candidate for eliminating waste or muda as it is known in Kaizen. Sorted!

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