Aug 17, 2007

Improving the DOH Retirement Process

Just got back from the Department of Health, after giving a workshop and mentoring session. Our goal: help a cluster of the KM team to use some knowledge sharing techniques to improve their retirement process.

We began by defining the process start and ending, then started using Post-Its to write down the steps. After lining them up in the whiteboard and drawing arrows (thus the boxes-and-arrows process map), the team really got deeply into the discussion. The team was so engaged that they did not even think of pausing for lunch.

Despite asking people to stop thinking about the process while eating lunch, discussions continued. Our session at 1:30 PM and I have a feeling people would have stayed and worked on the project had it not been for the order from DOH to go home. Everyone went home having a deep sense of fulfillment.

We examined each step and bounced around ways to improve them. I liked the openness of the people to accept ideas. Everyone let everyone to finish what they were saying before any critiques were given.

To be honest, I was a bit unsure whether we would get substantial results since it appeared that a previous process improvement effort had already been done -- in fact, the cluster came armed with a neat list of steps, complete with input and output, plus flowcharts.

But when they started stepping through the process map and comparing it to what was happening in reality, new stuff came out. I gave them guide questions like, "What common errors or complaints do you receive?" and "Are there bottlenecks or points of delay in the procedures?"

After lengthy discussions, the KM team had a list of improvements to the DOH retirement process, two of which would result to major impact. First, a simpler, more efficient process, by decreasing points of mistakes and causes of delay. Second, an insertion of a knowledge harvest process for key retiring staff. This was a very fulfilling day for us, despite the rain and the flood that I had to drive through to get back home. Thanks to the DOH process improvement team!

More photos here:

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