Influencing our approach to improvement

Gill Richards from Stem Cell Biology and Immunotherapy talks about contributing to the continuous improvement of continuous improvement!

Our lab is, like other areas in our organisation, a very busy place with our team committed to doing the best they can – something I am very proud of. Although we can see how making improvements can help us as well as the vital service we provide, it is challenging to keep momentum for continuous improvement (CI) as part of our day job.

Unexpectedly, I was offered an opportunity to visit an external organisation to see how they use CI in the workplace. It required travelling to the Midlands from my base in Southampton but was so worth the effort! Surprising that I could learn from an organisation that was a supplier of control and automation manufacturing solutions rather than part of the NHS. The company is called PP Control and Automation if anyone would like to see what they are about.

What impressed me most was that the staff were encouraged to improve their own work area and were enthusiastic, fully committed and proud of what they had achieved. It felt like a team effort. Key to this was that improvements don’t need to be complicated or controlled by managers, but supported by managers and using small templates to capture the improvement and the difference it makes.

I was inspired by what I saw on the visit and am keen to apply some of the learning. After the visit, I introduced a local small improvement form to encourage my colleagues to have a go and to also document what they were doing. I was conscious that I needed to support rather than control the improvements colleagues wanted to make.

Part of the visit commitment was to provide feedback to the Corporate CI team who had organised the day. I was then invited to join a Skype meeting with members of the CI Community to talk about my visit. It was a bit tricky to do over the phone as I couldn’t connect on Skype but everyone was eager to hear what I had done and it went well with lots of questions.

After talking through what I had experienced, we all participated in an activity to devise a selection of different forms for small improvements. The most popular – including my own, I have to point out – are now part of a formal trial as CI Do-It A3s.

It is a great feeling to think that something I have learnt and brought back into the workplace is now part of a development to how the organisation approaches small improvements.

We are using some of the different forms in our department to test which are the most user-friendly and suitable for our work here in the lab. I’m really pleased to be part of the CI Community and to have a voice in improving how we approach improvements.

Please do check out the forms and have a go at using them for your own local small improvements – more information is here.

The trial ends mid-September and decisions will be made about how to take them further based on take-up. Of course, I’d be delighted if the form I devised is the one that turns out to be one of the forms selected to take forward!

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  1. 1

    Hey. Brill blog Gill. Visiting organisations outside of the NHS is always an eye opener, usually something to learn and bring back to NHSBT. Really pleased you had a good day. If you ever get the chance to visit Siemens in Congleton, Cheshire, grab it with both hands, they live and breathe continuous improvement.
    Happy day.

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    Some great insight from your visit, Gill. Sounds like it was a worthwhile trip and I think its fantastic that you are encouraging team members to have a go at small improvements.

  7. 7

    Thanks Gill for sharing your feedback – really good to hear about how you transferred your learning effectively back into NHSBT. Thank you.

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