Last month saw Dafferns LLP’s 3rd Excellence week. Those who follow us on social media would have seen the posts, for those who haven’t: the Dafferns Mindshop Excellence week is our “alternative” work experience programme, during which we take a group of 17 year old students and across a working week spend day 1 teaching and demonstrating some of our problem solving tools and techniques we use with clients; days 2-4 are spent with a host company working on a real business problem and day 5 is spent back at our offices tidying and practicing the presentation of their findings they will deliver after lunch to the host business owners and representatives.
This year we had 7 boys from President Kennedy School in Coventry (our first ever single gender group), on Day 1 we showed them how to use and apply tools such as Magic Wand, Mind Maps, Pareto, Decision Matrix, Force Field and 7 wastes, among others. Towards the end of the day they voted amongst themselves on their team leader and were then presented with the problem that the host business would like them to look at.
On day 2 we met the group at Band Hatton Button’s offices in Coventry City Centre where they had a tour of the premises; a presentation about the business from the BHB team; and after which the host talked about the problem they would like the team to look into and report back: To identify where there are wastes on a day to day basis in Band Hatton Button and to identify solutions to these.
Days 2-4 the team were left to work independently, researching into the problem, generating ideas for solutions and costing these. Both Deborah Austin and Martin Gibbs were available to answer any questions or provide additional clarification to the team, however other than a daily contact call to advise what the team had achieved during the day and what their plan for the next day was they organised and managed themselves.
Day 5 was an early start back at the Dafferns offices, the Team leader Jack arrived just after 8am to “tweak” the visuals for the presentation and was joined between 9 & 9:30 by the remaining 6 members of his team. They spent until 11am organising their slides and what each of them would report on before Richard Miller and Deborah Austin joined them for the first run through.
The important point to note is that we do not interfere or change the students report, it is ALL their own work, we simply spend time working with them on how each individual best presents and ensure they are clear as to what they want to convey to the business owners. Some students like to read from notes, others from the slides, and others like to memorise their part, the benefit to the running through is that after 5 or 6 run through’s they are starting to relax and are clear as to the message they want to convey.
At 2pm Mark Moseley, the Managing Director of Band Hatton Button, and Natalie Ormerod, Head of HR and Client Relations arrived along with representatives from President Kennedy School and those parents who wished to see the final presentation. The boys were superb they paced themselves and explained the steps that they had used to identify where waste was occurring, they had evaluated the cost to the business and then costed solutions to the problem before advising what they felt was the best solution.
At the end the students invited attendees to ask questions; Mark Moseley started by giving the team a glowing report, he was impressed by how they had “…stepped outside (his) business and looked in and saw straight to the heart of some of its issues…”. Mark also commented on how the students had evaluated both the cost of each waste and the cost of implementing each solution, which meant that the savings made from implementing one suggestion would fund another of the suggestions the students had given. It was great for Mark and Natalie to see how effectively a group of 17 year-olds could use a few problem solving tools to make a real impact on their business.
What sums up how un-intrusive the programme is came from Natalie who commented that “…it had been easier to provide this work experience for the 7 students all at once than it would be to provide traditional work experience for one student…”; and that Band Hatton Button would definitely be interested in hosting another group.
The Excellence programme is an exceptional experience for students, they are taught valuable life skills and problems solving tools; spending time with 2 businesses where they are welcomed. They work on a real business issue gaining insight into the day to day operations; the host company receives a unique insight into their business and viable solutions to the issue or problem identified.