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Rapid Improvement Events

Rapid Improvement Events (RIEs) are one of the University's approaches to change management.

What is a Rapid Improvement Event?

An RIE workshop typically lasts three or four days and enables participants to review a specific, problematic process or issue, using a structured methodology including a toolkit of techniques and approaches. Participants will diagnose issues in depth and then generate and test ideas to fix them during the allotted time. The aim is to develop solutions that can be implemented during, or straight after, the event. This intensive approach makes it possible to realise gains immediately, helping to mitigate the 'too busy to fix it' dilemma that can often be a barrier to change.

How can Rapid Improvement Events be used?

The rapid improvement methodology lends itself to improving existing areas of process where there is clear authority to change the area under review. If a change is likely to be very controversial and/or require widespread consultation it will be difficult to complete the change within the short window of an RIE.

What sort of changes do Rapid Improvement Events work for?

  • Changes to existing processes (but not systems)
  • Specific process or set of inter-related processes (eg the process for managing research contracts might be suitable, but the entirety of work covered by the Research Grants and Contracts team would be too broad)
  • Areas where need for change is clear (ideally from the perspective of everyone involved - the teams, the customers and senior management)
  • Processes that we have a clear authority to change rapidly (eg not processes that we would have to clear with a regulator or similar body before changing which might result in the proposed change being vetoed)

When are Rapid Improvement Events not suitable?

  • IT systems changes (eg where an existing process is being automated or an existing system is being replaced)
  • 'Cultural' team changes (although RIEs may have an indirect positive effect on this)
  • Team restructures

Suggesting a Rapid Improvement Event project

We worked with the consultancy firm Skills4Success to develop our own RIE approach. Our trained Rapid Improvement facilitators will guide and support you through the RIE process, enabling you to swiftly and effectively implement a desired change. We welcome suggestions for change projects that would benefit from this RIE approach - please discuss this with your Operations Manager or submit your proposal:

What criteria are used to prioritise projects for Rapid Improvement Events?

  • Likelihood of success
  • Possible scale of success
  • Extent of control of the process/extent of likely controversy around the process
  • Ease of access to data/evidence
  • Level of buy-in (from team, customers and senior management)
  • Resources (both RIE facilitators and time of the affected team)
  • Urgency of the need for change
  • Fit with the RIE methodology (see criteria above)
  • Strategic fit (both with University and business area strategies)

Participating in Rapid Improvement Events

Our RIE programme aims to bring transformational change to key processes, helping to make them easier, smarter and more efficient. The events are led by trained RIE Facilitators working with those involved in the process. We also frequently recruit people who aren't closely involved in the process so that we get a fresh perspective. Events typically last three to five days, so this is a significant time commitment but participants almost always tell us they enjoyed the event and got loads from it; it's a fantastic opportunity to see the bigger picture, network outside your own area and bring about real changes in the way we work.

Case studies

A number of RIEs have already been run within the University. We've provided case studies here to illustrate how the rapid improvement methodology has worked for these changes.