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Playing the chocolate game

How do you get your team engaged in process improvement? If you're lucky, some people will be enthusiastic about developing their skills by training in a standard methodology. But what about the rest? We've designed three simple steps that might just help.

Using chocolate to improve processes

Step one: Set the scene

First, you'll need to set the scene. What is process improvement? And why is it important? How will it save time, reduce duplication, recognise individual contributions, and, ultimately, enhance performance? Take some time to talk through how process improvement might work for your team, so that everyone can understand the potential benefits.

Step two: Play the game

Putting the theory into a practical context is the next step. Choose an example that is far away from your everyday work, and make it a really bad process, including as many different types of 'waste' as you can. We use the chocolate game. Not only does this provide an excellent example, but it means you have a treat to snack on in the afternoon! In a nutshell, a customer asks for an order of chocolates to be filled. Team members play the roles of pickers, checkers, runners and managers, and work through each order. One person should act as a timer and observer. The participants work through the 'clunky' process to start with. Then, as a team, identify improvements. Finally, run through the example again, building in your improvements. Your team will be able to see the benefits first hand.

Step three: Apply the learning

Finally, all you need to do is apply the learning from the theory and the exercise to your own processes. Start with one process, and work through in detail. Interrogate every aspect, down to the wording of forms and emails. The idea is that the team will start to unpick processes they don't usually see inside. Everyone can make suggestions for improvements, as they bring their perspectives into play. And you'll understand how the processes interact with others within your department, and beyond. Once you've worked through one process, you can apply the learning more quickly to other activities.

The result? Steamlined processes, shared understanding, and - most importantly - a spark of enthusiasm about continuous improvement.

If you need help with your process improvement, please do get in touch.


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