CI Comm Cells - enabling teams to embed continuous improvement culture

The LDF Team has short 5-15 minute, weekly, continuous improvement (CI) meetings called Comm Cells, to discuss efficiency ideas, proposals and changes. The Comm Cell board captures CI ideas and their progress. The board also displays service and operational information to remove unnecessary team conversations. The board should be in view of the team to act as a constant visual reminder of the Lean continuous improvement approach they are incorporating into their daily practice.

The Comm Cells are scheduled for the most convenient available time for the team. All available team members attend the Comm Cell; if no one is available for a particular week it should be rescheduled to the next available time. To ensure the team’s CI approach is maintained the Comm Cell should happen every week without fail.

The Comm Cell board is separated into three sections: Operational Matters, Continuous Improvement and Performance.

  • Operational Matters: for displaying regularly updated team and service information, statistics and data. This removes team spent having unnecessary conversations in the office and during team meetings as the information is always on display for staff to read. Operational matters are only discussed at the Comm Cell if there is an issue.conversations in the office and during team meetings as the information is always on display for staff to read. Operational matters are only discussed at the Comm Cell if there is an issue.

  • Continuous Improvement: for displaying your proposed and accepted CI ideas. Proposed CI ideas are added to the board on green post-its, stating the CI idea, the potential efficiency saving and the person’s name proposing it. These are discussed at the next Comm Cell to ensure the CI is relevant and makes sense. Once the CI idea is accepted it is given a number and added to the CI idea list. At the end of each month the green CI post-its are removed and the information is added to the CI idea spreadsheet which uses colour coding for highlighting progress: white is un-actioned, yellow is in progress and green is completed.

  • Performance: this section relates solely to the performance of the accepted CI ideas. Orange post-it notes are used to provide progress updates to the team for the CI ideas which are being actioned; as staff can read these themselves, they do not need to be discussed unless support is needed or there is an issue. A yellow chart showing total and completed CI ideas is shown; these are the important CI performance indicators. When a CI is completed it is added to this yellow sub-section by either moving the green post-it over or writing a new yellow post-it for it if the CI has already been added to the CI ideas spreadsheet. The outcome of all completed CIs need to be discussed before the post-it can be removed from the board and added to the completed CI chart figures. This is done monthly. If a completed CI outcome has been discussed a tick is added to the post-it.

The evolution of the LDF Comm Cell board:

LDF CI Performance

LDF has had 39 CI ideas accepted through the Comm Cells since August 2019, with 36 being completed. Each CI idea has meant efficiency savings predominantly for time and energy of the LDF team and relevant LJMU staff. Multiple hours of administration work relating to processes, tasks and procedures, has been saved through adopting this Lean Continuous Improvement approach using the Comm Cells. These efficiencies can all be translated into actual cost savings for LJMU.

Three CI idea examples from the LDF Comm Cells, which have been completed:

Changing AUA Accreditation Programme registration process to match ILM Programme registration process:

  • Speeded up and simplified administration process for LDF and staff.

  • Removes four emails and up to a two-week lead-time of administration communications: minimum saving of 20 minutes work for LDF per participant on programme. Lead-time is the time waiting for action(s).

  • Registering 16 participants for October AUA Accreditation Programme equates to a minimum saving of over 5 hours.

Streamlining Staff Development Funding Application and Approval Process for Apprenticeships:

  • A ‘Lean Walkthrough’ highlighted unnecessary administration layers and communications within the process.

  • Removed three layers of the process, which included six emails plus the lead-time between emails, which was 1-28 days for the 23 apprentices approved during 2018/19.

  • Three administration layers and six emails then condensed to one layer and two emails, saving a minimum of 40 minutes per apprentice applicant. This equates to over six hours saved since September 2019.

Empowering LDF and HR colleagues to run own statistics and data reports for development sessions:

  • A CI review of the new booking system highlighted a simplified process, which did not require specific training and a complicated procedure to run data reports on development sessions.

  • All users of new system empowered to run own reports. The spreads the related administration work and removes lead-time for data requests. Since October this has made data more accessible and saved hours of time waiting for report requests to be actioned.

The LDF considers the Comm Cells to be the essential component in our teams’ success in adopting a continuous improvement mind-set and for incorporating CI into our daily practice. We strongly encourage all managers and teams to try Comm Cells for themselves. The LDF is available to provide support for this. We can provide you with bespoke support, or you are welcome to attend one of our open sessions.

We have 45 minute CI Comm Cell Briefing Sessions available to book within our Staff Development Calendar.

We would also encourage all LJMU staff to attend the two-hour Continuous Improvement Workshop to learn more about LJMU’s continuous improvement approach and how we are embedding the CI culture within our institution. These sessions are available to book on the Staff Development Calendar or can be developed as a bespoke session for your team or department at request.

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