Improving a complex system

The situation

An organisation converted blood, a variable and potentially hazardous material, into a variety of medical products. Rigorous, rapid and accurate testing of the raw material was essential to manage the production process and ensure the safety of the products.

In practice, the testing system was slow and sometimes inaccurate.

The solution

I interviewed the manager, the people who worked in the Technical Department on Quality Assurance and Control and key people in the Production department to find out what worked and how they thought the system could be simplified and improved. The manager added his analysis of the minimum outputs required by the regulators. His input and my report on the interview results formed part of workshops for all the people involved in the system.

The results

At these workshops and afterwards people identified and implemented many ways to improve the system. Most involved them doing dramatically less work by eliminating unnecessary transcription of results and checking. The people themselves worked out how to make the system both better and easier to use.

The client’s view

There has been active questioning of the “But we have always done it that way” often common in long serving staff. I have been most impressed by the self examination of the systems and enthusiasm for the approach. People have dramatically reduced unnecessary work. Nick has catalysed this attitude change.

If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick