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It’s a wrap!

In this latest blog post Sarah White, Quality Improvement Lead, has a few timely tips to share on the festive art of gift wrapping…

‘Tis the season to be jolly and to wrap presents. Some people love the wrapping part, adorning their gifts in feathers, bows and all kinds of bells and whistles. Some people, like me, only buy gifts from shops that provide a wrapping service.

Here at the West of England AHSN we decided to take the Christmas spirit and repackage it as a learning activity. Our Quality Improvement team were recently asked to deliver training to Bristol pharmacists to help them understand process mapping (or should that be process wrapping?), which presented the perfect opportunity.

The activity demonstrates how everything has a process – a flow in which smaller tasks combine together to make an overall task.

We furnished small teams with the necessary equipment: a gift, some paper, a label, sticky tape, all the accouterments required to make a lovely gift for someone.  They were then asked to spend 10 minutes setting out their workstation to make the process of wrapping the present as easy as possible.  They were given some simple rules to follow:

The gift must be neatly wrapped:

  • No bits of present visible
  • No loose corners or edges of paper
  • Sticky tape not visible.

The gift must be labelled:

  • Attached by string
  • To whom
  • Message
  • From whom.

Once they had designed the process they would have 10 seconds to wrap their present.

The teams got to work – setting out their process, discussing the merits of various techniques, laying out their equipment, labels, gift and paper in ways that would make that 10 second wrap a doddle.  The teams were working together, collaborating and generating ideas. It was all going so well until…

The trainers called time on their process mapping and everyone was all set to get down to the business of putting it into action, but (and here’s the good bit) we then asked them to swap workstations!

The teams had to use someone else’s process.

There were all kinds of complaints, but the rules were unequivocal. You have to swap teams and use a process that you have not been involved in designing.  The 10 second countdown started as did the shouts of dismay.

The presents were wrapped – kind of.  Using another team’s process was more difficult as the participants hadn’t designed the process; it slowed them down and made less sense than their own.

Afterwards, we asked them how it felt to have a process foisted upon them with no consultation and I’m sure you can guess the responses. The exercise was fun and clearly demonstrated the benefits of building consensus, utilising existing skills within the team, and having ownership of a process, whatever it may be.

In terms of Quality Improvement, this exercise is great to quickly demonstrate the importance of bringing teams together to understand their processes, especially when it comes to making changes.


Posted on December 13, 2016 by Sarah White, Quality Improvement Lead

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