Friday, 8 February 2013


Apparently being frustrated is a normal part of the systems thinking process, which is good because that means I'm doing really well. After collecting demand in the Hub for 2 months it turns out we're doing it wrong and need to start again. I'm keen to get this right so with Kim, Nusrat and Matt's help we're starting again. It's not completely wasted (we have learned some things from it) but it's not authentic enough to draw any definitive conclusions from. Our systems thinking colleague (who is genuinely very helpful) has pointed out that we were coding the data too early and the help desk were (through no fault of their own) squeezing the demand into our categories and subcategories rather than accurately recording it in the customer's own words. This I get, and like I said, we're determined to get it right, so we're starting the process again. This time we aren't getting the help desk to categorise but simply getting them to record the following information a spread sheet:

  • ID number
  • date
  • time
  • method (face to face, email, phone)
  • who (student, staff, employer)
  • demand (verbatim - or as good as)
  • our response
  • whether this was us solving it, passing it on (to someone else) or passing it back (to the customer)

We've also realised we need to collect demand at all points of transaction simultaneously - previously we had hoped to keep things simple by getting the collection right in the Hub first and only then rolling it out to other parts of the Service. Instead we're now going to try and collect it in all parts of the Service at once, at least the ones that are customer (student) facing, so that's all staff involved in:

  • the Hub
  • appointments (guidance and feedback)
  • experience related activity - volunteering, Leicester Award, internships, enterprise, internships and Unitemps

Other points of contact are the curriculum (although that's mostly staff contact) and employers (employer contact), so we're going to leave those be for a while. Also, given the pressures on the Service at the moment we're just going to start with volunteering and Leicester Award (although I haven't told them this yet!) - this will involve all staff in these teams collecting demand for a couple of weeks. Once this is done we'll sit down with our systems thinking colleague again and properly analyse the demand.

So it feels a bit like we're going round in circles but unless we get this beginning bit right we'll be working off skewed data. So far we're still on stage 2 of check - so plenty more still to do. I did ask when the frustration stops and it feels like we're making progress - there's no definitive answer to this but I hope it's soon! One thing that's obvious is that whilst we're not lacking enthusiasm (although, to be honest, that does wane occasionally) we are lacking expertise. In principle the approach is simple, but in practise its easy to get it wrong and end up barking up the wrong tree.

Onward and upward!

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