The Picture

Looking carefully.

Taking in the details of colours, patterns and shapes.

Selecting purposefully.

Piecing together the intricate parts.

A process being followed to achieve an outcome. Seeing the detail rather than the bigger picture.

The outcome would happen, because the process was being followed, but that process may not be done the same way by two different people.

What am I describing?

I am describing watching my 4 year old working on a puzzle. She loves puzzles. She has moved on to a Shimmer & Shine puzzle that has 104 small pieces, from puzzles that have 35 larger pieces.

Her moves were decisive. Picking out defining features such as parts of eyes or words that were easier for her to match. Her process method is to build outwards. I found this interesting to watch. Why? Because I am process driven person and my way is to pick the outside pieces, put those together and then work in wards.

Dave – The Coach

This was at a similar time to seeing a TV interview with Johnny Wilkinson and the coach that’s described as changing his life, Dave Alred.

Dave gave an example of how he gets his ‘learners’ to focus.

He gave an example of taking a kick in rugby. Very simply most would look at the ball and the goal and kick it in the right direction. What was fascinating about his teaching method, was how to focus on the detail. He would get players not just to focus on the ball, but to focus on the stitching on the ball.

I was considering his process method and the way that I work. My personality type is that I am a do-er. Focused on results. Getting things done as efficiently and effectively as possible. So understanding better ways to work fascinates me.

When I worked in an accountancy practice as a trainee accountant, I would prepare accounts and tax returns, very much focused on the details. Ensuring that the bank reconciliation balanced to the penny.

As I moved on from that role a very wise mentor told me that if I wanted to succeed I needed to be aware of the bigger picture. For example, if a I found an error in the accounts, was it material?

She was completely right of course.

The way we worked in practice was that if the bank didn’t balance we would tick it back. You soon came to realise that if you checked each page of the bank statement to the system as you went along, it kept errors to a miminum and saved you time.

Lean Processes

Process and adding value is something that has really stuck in my mind recently. I have done some reading around lean processes and six sigma. Terms usually used in the manufacturing sector.

One of the articles I read was one involving the Toyota Lean Management Centre supporting Christleton High School, near Chester. Here is a quote from the article, it’s an interesting piece:

“How did the implementation of Lean principles and practice start at the school?

Toyota helped us to set our target: turning 10% of our waste into value added, so the first thing we had to do was to identify the waste. We struggled with the process at first, but sent all the necessary documentation and measurements to Toyota, who got back to us with 69 areas of waste. It was decided that our implementation would focus on the identified top 20 of them.”

Following this I have been mentally analysing processes.

Thinking about…

  • How many steps are involved?
  • How many people are involved?
  • What’s the cost of the resources?
  • What’s the cost of time?
  • Is approval required? By whom?

Often in schools ‘wasted resources’ comes from wasted time. Someone doing something that is not ‘adding value’.

As we approach September, a time when we often see a number of new staff, students or volunteers joining, it got me thinking about the way that staff are inducted.

If you have a well designed induction process, then it should save time in the long run. As long as it is purposeful and includes the necessary elements to be effective.

This is something that I am experiencing personally at the moment as I prepare to move from a generalist school business manager role, to a role of finance director at a multi academy trust in a different local authority area.

I have been really impressed by the induction pack that I received. They were super organised with my ID badge and gate fob all ready for me. It made me feel properly welcomed. They had focused on the important details.

So here are my prompts to you..

  1. What ‘wastage’ is there in your processes?
  2. What doesn’t add value?
  3. What does your induction process look like?

Let me know your comments below.

I am planning to write a follow up to this blog post about what to include in an induction.

Finally if you are interested in reading more about Dave Alred take a look at his website:

Thanks for reading.