Hello virtual world! Things have been a bit bonkers lately! Maybe you’re working in an emergency response center and your “real job”, the one that you got hired to do, […]
Hello virtual world! Things have been a bit bonkers lately! Maybe you’re working in an emergency response center and your “real job”, the one that you got hired to do, seems like a distant memory. Maybe you’re working from home sharing a room with a partner, a kiddo trying to learn online, and your pets who are happily celebrating having the whole family home by insisting on playing at all hours of the day. Or maybe you’re on the front lines, doing what you always do, but now the stakes feel higher. To all of you, we see you! Change can be hard, especially when it’s thrust upon you in an instant, be we are here to tell you, “You’ve got this!”
Amidst the COVID19-induced chaos, something that is so inspiring is the collective innovative spirit. Hard times have called on people to think out of the box and figure out how to deliver core services while maintaining social distance. And people have responded! Anytime you encounter a challenge in your life, it can be helpful to pause and ask yourself, “What tools do I have to tackle this?” Your smart, capable, resilient selves are amazing, and you have so many resources to draw from. This includes your process improvement tools! These tools were made for times like these:
Brainstorming: A short 15-minute session where no idea is too crazy can generate A LOT of possible solutions to the challenges you’re facing. Remember to allow everybody to contribute before you start workshopping the ideas, so you don’t accidentally shut down the best solution before it’s even shared.
Voice of the Customer: Whether you have internal or external customers, figure out what your customer needs right now. They are in flux just like you are, so what used to be true for them may not be anymore. Connect and make sure that you are delivering value to them.
Process Mapping: Map out all the steps of your new process. This helps ensure everybody is on the same page and allows you to identify any waste. This is especially important when you are in a resource-slim situation.
Visual Management: Workflows have changed. Use visual management and production boards to keep track of your goals and core work. It doesn’t have to be fancy! Also consider if you can find a way to digitize a team board so everybody can stay informed on each other’s work.
Nudges & Social Engineering: How can you set up the environment to nudge your customer to making better decisions? For example, if people still need to come in person for a service, can you put a physical marker on the floor to indicate how far apart they need to be? Or incorporate an ice breaker at the beginning of your virtual meeting so people view themselves as participants and not just listeners. Remember that by making things easy, timely, attractive, or social, you can influence your customer’s decisions for the better.
Standard Work & Cross Training: Make sure everybody on your team has a back up who could do their job if they are pulled into something else, or otherwise aren’t available. Better yet, document core functions via standard work so anybody on the team could step in for anybody else.
Shrink the Change: As the saying goes, don’t try and swallow the elephant whole. Take things one step at a time by breaking a big challenge into smaller actionable items. When you finish one, then you can think about the next one and slowly but surely you will reach your goal.
Above all else, process improvement is about respect for people. It’s about delivering value for our customers, and we can only be successful in that endeavor when we have strong relationships with our colleagues. So, don’t forget to check in, figure out where you can lend a helping hand, and lean on your own support network (including us!). Let us know what we can do to support you – you’ve got this!
Katie is a Continuous Improvement Specialist with Denver Peak Academy. Katie has spent the entirety of her career working for mission-driven organizations which has included non-profit consulting, healthcare, and higher education sectors. In her previous positions, she often found herself leading her work teams in creating more efficient and effective processes. As a Denver-metro native, she is especially excited to apply these skills helping Denver be the best city in the nation. In particular, she is energized by the empowering transformation people experience as they identify actionable items to improve their work. When not at work, Katie enjoys spending time with her husband, kiddo, and pup, traveling, and being an active Coloradan.
Katie holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder and Brown University, respectively.
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