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Continuous Improvement Course Modules

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Entering a training programme, we already know we want to improve. Here you will find the resources to help build on the intention and plan to improve.

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A Year in Focus - Review Exercise

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 30 minutes.

Aims:
• This exercise is designed for the start of a team session that reviews the previous year; in particular what went well, what people struggled with and what they learnt from it.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 25 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 30 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• This exercise is designed for the start of a team session that reviews the previous year; in particular what went well, what people struggled with and what they learnt from it.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Everyone.

You'll Need:
• A balloon for each participant. (It’s preferable to have lots of different colours.)
• A whistle or claxon to tell everyone to stop.

Whistles can be purchased from Trainers' Market.

Notes:
You will need a nice (indoor) space for participants to throw their balloons in the air and keep all the balloons airborne.

Larger groups will necessitate a longer running time for the exercise.

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Achieving A Shared Vision

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 45 minutes.

Aims:
• To identify specific actions that will enable groups to achieve a shared vision.
• To help individuals see how they will contribute to the achievement of a shared vision.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module can be complete within 45 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 75 minutes to complete the module.

Aims:
• To identify specific actions that will enable groups to achieve a shared vision.
• To help individuals see how they will contribute to the achievement of a shared vision.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with most workshop/courses but is not recommended for use where the group has more than 25 participants (e.g., conferences).

Useful For:
Staff at all levels working in a team. It is particularly well suited to new teams formed for a fixed period to manage/implement a project.

You'll Need:
Plenty of sheets of thin A4 card and a selection of coloured pens (felt tip pens are ideal).

Notes:
This module allows the group to share their ideas on how they intend to work together to achieve a shared vision. The group need to be clear about what their vision is. If this isn’t the case, then you might wish to use the module, ‘Creating a Shared Vision’ to achieve this.

This activity can be used as a stand alone activity or combined with others (for example, 'Creating a Shared Vision' as part of a longer event.

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Barriers to Internal Customer Care

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 50 minutes.

Aims:
• To identify the main barriers to internal customer care and ways of reducing or eliminating them.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 35 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 50 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To identify the main barriers to internal customer care and ways of reducing or eliminating them.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• Post its, pens and flip chart paper.

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Building Determination

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 60 minutes.

Aims:
• To demonstrate the importance of determination in building resilience.
• To identify what determination is and where it comes from.
• To list some of the key factors that help make people more determined.
• To identify ways to become more determined.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 30 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 60 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To demonstrate the importance of determination in building resilience.
• To identify what determination is and where it comes from.
• To list some of the key factors that help make people more determined.
• To identify ways to become more determined.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Staff and managers at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

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Creating A Shared Vision

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 120 minutes.

Aims:
• To agree what success looks like for everyone.
• To establish effective working relationships within groups or teams.
• To create a vision statement for the team.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module can be complete within 90 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 120 minutes to complete the module.

Aims:
• To agree what success looks like for everyone.
• To establish effective working relationships within groups or teams.
• To create a vision statement for the team.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with most workshop/courses but is not recommended for use where the group has more than 25 participants (e.g., conferences).

Useful For:
Staff at all levels working in a team. It is particularly well suited to new teams formed for a fixed period to manage/implement a project.

You'll Need:
• Plenty of post-it notes and flipchart paper.
• A selection of craft materials such as paints, brushes, glue, magazines, pieces of material. (You may prefer to restrict the materials available to coloured pens and paper, depending on the make up of the group you are working with.)

Notes:
This module allows the group to share ideas about what is important to them and to agree some communal aim, values and aspirations. As a result of this exercise the whole team will participate in the creation of a shared vision.

This activity can be used as a stand-alone activity or combined with others to form a longer event. The module Achieving a Shared Vision naturally leads on from this module.

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CRM - A Plan for Dune Races

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 75 minutes.

Aims:
• To identify approaches and ideas that could be used in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy.
• To develop a strategy based on the information provided about Dune Races.
• To share ideas and thoughts about what makes an effective CRM strategy.

About

Time:
The exercises in this module will take about 45 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 75 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To identify approaches and ideas that could be used in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy.
• To develop a strategy based on the information provided about Dune Races.
• To share ideas and thoughts about what makes an effective CRM strategy.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
A small prize for the winning team.

Notes:
This is one of a short series of modules that look at Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as a topic in its own right and is a useful follow on to 'Introducing CRM'.

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Diamond or Glass? - A Customer Service Experience

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 60 minutes.

Aims:
• To illustrate the importance of customer service.
• To demonstrate how low-cost customer service improvements can benefit an organisation's reputation.
• To identify improvements that can be made to customer service within the participants' teams/organisation.

About

Time:
The exercises in this module will take about 40 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 75 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To illustrate the importance of customer service.
• To demonstrate how low-cost customer service improvements can benefit an organisation's reputation.
• To identify improvements that can be made to customer service within the participants' teams/organisation.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
Most of us have stopped in hotels. These powerful exercises use those experiences to demonstrate how little things count when delivering customer service.

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Employee Engagement 1 - What's in It for Me?

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 70 minutes.

Aims:
• To introduce managers to the subject of employee engagement.
• To help managers begin to understand why employee engagement is central to being a successful manager.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 70 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 105 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To introduce managers to the subject of employee engagement.
• To help managers begin to understand why employee engagement is central to being a successful manager.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of between 3 and 20 participants. Ideally, you'll have at least 6 participants though so that you can create 3 teams of 2 or more.

Useful For:
Participants with managerial responsibility (or those who will have imminently.)

You'll Need:
• Prepared flipcharts with simple 'cartoon' faces drawn on them - one face for each participant.
• Post-it notes.

Notes:
This exercise is designed for the start of an Employee Engagement workshop.

Before the participants arrive – create a flip chart or charts with colourful cartoon faces on. Please have enough faces so that there is one for each participant. Have these on display at the start of the exercise.

There are two parts to this exercise. It is essential that both are completed to ensure that learning is maximised.

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Employee Engagement 4 - Building Engagement

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 40 minutes.

Aims:
• To help participants understand what it feels like to be engaged in their job and the difference it makes to how they feel and the quality of their work.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 40 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 60 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To help participants understand what it feels like to be engaged in their job and the difference it makes to how they feel and the quality of their work.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of between 3 and 16 participants.

Useful For:
Participants with managerial responsibility (or those who will have imminently.)

You'll Need:
• A Bridge Constructor Kit for each team. (These can be purchased from Trainers' Market.)
• A separate area for each team to work in, where they will be out of sight of the other team(s).

Notes:
It is advisable to start this exercise without too much introduction – just hand out the briefings and let them get on with it.

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Feelings Cards - Strategic Development

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 60 minutes.

Aims:
• To enable participants to consider how customers and staff view their organisation.
• To identify cultural/image strengths and weaknesses within the organisation.
• To generate discussion about how cultural/image strengths can be maintained, and how weaknesses might be overcome.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 45 minutes to complete (but can be shortened if necessary). In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 60 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To enable participants to consider how customers and staff view their organisation.
• To identify cultural/image strengths and weaknesses within the organisation.
• To generate discussion about how cultural/image strengths can be maintained, and how weaknesses might be overcome.

Group Size:
Fairly adaptable but we would recommend use with groups of less than 15 participants, working in two teams.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• One set of Feelings Cards per team.
• Flipchart paper and marker pens for each team.
• Blu-tack.

Notes:
Use this as a catalyst for discussing how the organisation is currently viewed by its stakeholders, and how participants would like it to be viewed in the future.

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Glasstap Sheep Trials - An Exercise in Communication and Continuous Improvement

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 30 minutes.

Aims:
• To test participants' planning and communication skills.
• To demonstrate the importance of listening and using summary and clarification to check understanding.
• To consider what makes communication effective and the dangers of getting it wrong.
• To energise a group of participants.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To test participants' planning and communication skills.
• To demonstrate the importance of listening and using summary and clarification to check understanding.
• To consider what makes communication effective and the dangers of getting it wrong.
• To energise a group of participants.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• Whistles.
• A stopwatch.
• Blindfolds.
• Skittles and hoops (or similar-see note).
• Prizes.
Many of the items needed to run this exercise are available from Trainers' Market.

Notes:
We don't often develop exercises specifically for the outdoors, but this is a simple exercise that can be used by anyone with access to a park, lawn or yard. A great energiser for sunny days and one which really does contain some important lessons about communication and the importance of checking understanding.

This exercise does require some preparation as you'll need to devise a 'course' for your participants to follow. Preparation will take about 5 minutes once you have the items you'll need. The course maps show three different routes through the same course, which means you won't have to change the course itself if playing more than one round.

We suggest using hula-hoops for your 'pens'. If not, you can mark the 'pens' out using other things like rope or giant pick-up sticks. Skittles, cones or balls can be used to mark out the rest of the course.

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Half Full? - Optimism and its Importance

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 30 minutes.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to consider their attitude.
• To encourage discussion around optimistic versus pessimistic outlooks.
• To recognise the impact that attitude has on performance.
• To enable participants to identify personal traits that might be holding them back.
• To encourage leaders to consider how they might deal with negative attitudes in their team.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 20 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to consider their attitude.
• To encourage discussion around optimistic versus pessimistic outlooks.
• To recognise the impact that attitude has on performance.
• To enable participants to identify personal traits that might be holding them back.
• To encourage leaders to consider how they might deal with negative attitudes in their team.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This module provides an excellent opportunity, when working with a wide range of participants, to consider how attitude can impact on performance. Topics where the inclusion of a module looking at optimism/pessimism might be beneficial include:
• Managing change.
• Problem solving and decision making.
• Customer service.
• Selling skills.
• Leading a team.
• Strategic leadership.
• Communication skills.
• Planning and scheduling.

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Making Continuous Improvement Happen

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 45 minutes.

Aims:
• To identify improvements that can be made.
• To identify things that need to be taken into consideration when planning continuous improvement activities.
• To plan one improvement that can be implemented in the workplace.

About

Time:
The exercises in this module will take about 30 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 45 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To identify improvements that can be made.
• To identify things that need to be taken into consideration when planning continuous improvement activities.
• To plan one improvement that can be implemented in the workplace.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

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One Hump Or Two? - An Introduction to Continuous Improvement

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 50 minutes.

Aims:
• To provide a basic understanding of continuous improvement as a process and management tool.
• To place continuous improvement in context through a participatory exercise.

About

Time:
The exercises in this module will take about 30 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 50 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To provide a basic understanding of continuous improvement as a process and management tool.
• To place continuous improvement in context through a participatory exercise.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Old newspapers and sticky tape.

Notes:
You will need a large pile of old newspapers and some reels of sticky tape for this exercise.

You will also need to have made one "standard design" camel from folding or scrunching newspaper and using sticky tape.

This camel should have discernible legs, a head and a hump; but does not have to be a work of art! The participants need to be able to roughly copy it (note - the exercise is about improving upon the original). Finally you need to make a baton from newspaper, which will be used to bat the camel along in the camel races.

You will also require space to set up a track - this can usually be achieved by safely moving tables and chairs to the sides of the room.

You may wish to have a supply of small prizes available for the camel race winners.

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The Card Factory - Using Vision and Values

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 75 minutes.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to think about the extent to which staff feel engaged with the organisation they work for.
• To consider who staff feel is responsible for business performance.
• To think about how vision and values are used within the organisation.
• To demonstrate how values can be ingrained in the organisation.
• To consider the benefits of an organisation where staff feel engaged and responsible for the business outcomes.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 60 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 90 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to think about the extent to which staff feel engaged with the organisation they work for.
• To consider who staff feel is responsible for business performance.
• To think about how vision and values are used within the organisation.
• To demonstrate how values can be ingrained in the organisation.
• To consider the benefits of an organisation where staff feel engaged and responsible for the business outcomes.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Managers.

You'll Need:
For this exercise you will need a good quantity of greeting card making materials. For example: Glue, Double sided tape or pads, Scissors, Card of various colours and textures, Ribbon of various colours and Gold/silver markers.

You'll need enough materials for each team of 4-6 participants to make one 'template' card and one 'team' card of their own design.

Notes:
This exercise was first used at the 2008 Trainers' Library Conference and has been designed around the five 'passions' that underpin our business. It's an unusually personal module that we've used to share some of the key principles and approaches that we believe have been key to the success of Glasstap. It's been added to Trainers' Library in response to requests from participants who attended the conference.

You can use the five values we've suggested for the exercise to great effect. The exercise can also be easily adapted to your own organisation's vision and values but we do strongly recommend limiting the number of values used in this exercise to 6 or fewer.

If your organisation does not have a clear set of values or principles, you could use an exercise like 'Feeling Cards' to generate discussion around people's values and to identify some possible organistional values for the future.

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The Internal Service Chain

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 75 minutes.

Aims:
• To explore the concept of an internal service chain.
• To give participants the opportunity to map an internal service chain and identify critical internal relationships.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 55 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 75 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To explore the concept of an internal service chain.
• To give participants the opportunity to map an internal service chain and identify critical internal relationships.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

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The Two Farmers - Managing Team Performance

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 70 minutes.

Aims:
• To help first time managers to recognise and discuss some of the things that they need to do to build awareness of the team and monitor its performance.
• To help first time managers understand the importance of spotting potential problems quickly and taking appropriate action to help the team overcome these.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 50 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing at least 70 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To help first time managers to recognise and discuss some of the things that they need to do to build awareness of the team and monitor its performance.
• To help first time managers understand the importance of spotting potential problems quickly and taking appropriate action to help the team overcome these.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to about 18.

Useful For:
Teams, work groups and/or their leaders who wish to understand the elements of monitoring a team.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This module can be usefully followed by any of the First Time Manager modules.

It can also be a useful inclusion in any training intervention around coaching teams.

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Trouble at the Inn - Managing Poor Performance

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 180 minutes.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to consider different approaches to improving poor performance, and the relative merits of those different approaches.
• To encourage participants to think about appropriate timescales over which they might expect to improve performance and standards.
• To consider the implications of not taking action to improve poor performance.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 80 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 180 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to consider different approaches to improving poor performance, and the relative merits of those different approaches.
• To encourage participants to think about appropriate timescales over which they might expect to improve performance and standards.
• To consider the implications of not taking action to improve poor performance.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Managers.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
There are two different versions of the team brief for this exercise.

For junior managers we recommend using version 1, which contains a list of actions that the managers could consider when dealing with the issues of poor performance.

For more experienced managers, we recommend using version 2, which does not provide any clues about the type of action they could take and encourages them to come up with their own solutions.

This module is ideally suited for inclusion in training around managing change.

You can reduce the amount of time needed for this module by approximately 30 minutes by not requesting a formal presentation and simply asking each team instead to talk through its proposed actions.

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With Authority Comes Freedom - Introducing Tannenbaum and Schmidt

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 90 minutes.

Aims:
• To understand the importance of delegating authority appropriately to other colleagues.
• To introduce the Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum as a method of deciding what levels of authority to delegate.

About

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 55 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 90 minutes for this module.

Aims:
• To understand the importance of delegating authority appropriately to other colleagues.
• To introduce the Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum as a method of deciding what levels of authority to delegate.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Those who have responsibility for other staff, or who will do very soon.

You'll Need:
• One set of cards for every team of 2-3 participants.
• Blu-tack.

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