The Perfect Cup of Joe

We are pleased to present this guest blog post by Annelise Doll, Digital Initiatives Librarian at the Van Pelt & Opie Library at Michigan Technological University.

In the fall of 2015, I began training to become a Lean facilitator here on campus and am always excited to apply the many tools and tips I learn in these sessions to my work in the library. This not only improves my work, but also is great practice for when I become a facilitator. Sometimes it takes a new perspective from our discussions to see how I could use a particular tool, but Lean philosophy can be adapted to so many environments that it never takes long to understand how it can be useful. Standardized work, however, escaped me. When I was introduced to the concept, I could see the value right away: improvements in the quality of products, ease of training new people, and the creation of a safer work environment, to name a few. Even so, I struggled with where I could use this concept in my own work. I didn’t have to wait long for an opportunity though, and it came in the form of a coffee maker!

In an effort to increase cleanliness, the library recently implemented a system that recognizes individuals for cleaning the staff lounge. I’m known for regularly deep-cleaning our large bunn coffee maker, and now there are a few more people who’d like to help. Unfortunately, the task requires a few techniques and special pieces of equipment, so when I’m not in the office to assist it can be a difficult task to complete. Standardizing this work by creating a job element sheet certainly seems like the perfect solution to this issue!

Job Element SheetI formatted the job element sheet based on the one used by Catering Services for, coincidentally, making coffee. After picking out the steps involved and taking photos, I realized it would be easy enough to also create a sheet for how to brew a pot of coffee. Maybe it’s my love of the perfect cup of joe, the intimidating nature of a commercial coffee maker, or the fact that it can be difficult for many people to remember how much coffee to use, but for whatever reason I’m also the one who usually makes coffee for staff events. For being such a simple process, I know from experience that there are an outstanding number of ways it can go wrong! I tried my best to draw on this knowledge to help others avoid mistakes like pouring water into the machine without a pot underneath or forgetting to turn the burner off.

I’ve placed the sheets next to the coffee maker in the lounge and will ask for feedback from others in the library who are willing to test them out. I hope that the clarity and sequence of the steps can be improved as time goes on, and maybe the experience will inspire others to use a tool like this in their work. In any event, I’m sure I’ll be enjoying some excellent coffee made by my colleagues in the future!

If you think standardizing your work by creating a similar tool would be useful for you, please share your idea in the comments!

 


3 comments on “The Perfect Cup of Joe”

  • Theresa Coleman-Kaiser
    January 14, 2016 at 3:32 PM

    It is easy to see that you have quickly picked up the principles of standard work and applied them to your tasks. I similarly had the experience of seeing how standard work applied to others but had a harder time applying it to my own work. In particular, trying to move it beyond specific tasks by applying it to how I manage my work flow. I found you have to start small and accept that only a slice of your work may be able to be standardized initially. However, the more I do it the more productive I become and it inspires me to add more personal standards. Very nice post. I enjoyed reading it.

  • Rachel Chard
    January 15, 2016 at 10:15 AM

    Thank you for the great read and post, Annelise. I always enjoy seeing the changes and successes that sprout from hours of training and hard work that result in the engagement of peers and empowering them to follow in the same direction. I would enjoy learning about your Lean Facilitator training and what you have planned next for the library. 🙂 Great work!

  • Tara
    May 14, 2016 at 8:01 AM

    I think there are two major factors in making a great cup of coffee aside from those mentioned. 1 is temperature and the 2nd is to simply make sure your coffee maker is clean. I recently posted about Keurig Cleaning and how important it is.

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