I think that there is always some good learning to be had from improvement projects and I was keen to expose the apprentices to some additional experiences.
However, the last few weeks of the project have not been going to schedule and not wanting to miss the learning potential I asked them what they had learned about implementing a project of this nature.
They summarised the discussion that we had as being:
I wanted them to summarise the discussion as these key 'words' / phrases might stick in their heads a little longer and help them to avoid the same pitfalls in the future. I can't fault the words that they chose and the team nicely linked them together as indicated in the sketch above. I have summarised their comments as follows:
Good planning is essential and in particular having accountability and realistic target dates.
Working together as a team means spending time together and working on the same things at the same time... not working as a group of individuals.
Taking the time to discuss what is going on, what we're stuck with and clarifying that we understand what we need to do.
Finding ways to complete our tasks at the right time, with people inside and outside of the business, so that we can take the least amount of time to implement the change.
Taking ownership of the decision and accepting responsibility for making a decision. Slow decision making kills the pace of a project.
I'm pleased to say that we then applied these words to our current state of play and a revised implementation plan was created. In the last week I have seen more progress than in the previous six weeks.
The apprentices nicely summarised the problems they have witnessed on this project and I hope that you can find some use for the list in your own business.
Better planning, more effective teamwork, improved communication, co-ordinated activity and swift decision making... that sounds like a good recipe to me!
About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.
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