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Weekly Wisdom 5-24-2016

For the past month or so (and for many months ahead), HR has been participating in a process called Kaizen. Kaizen is a process of continuous improvement. “One of the most notable features of kaizen is that big results come from many small changes accumulated over time.” For a full explanation visit www.kaizen.com.  One component of kaizen is five-S. The 5 steps are: sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain. According to Gwendolyn Galsworth, “Visual order is the foundation of excellence…When (everything) is in its place…, work gets done efficiently and effectively. When it is not in place, work still gets done – but at a level of cost that is hard to justify.”

      I spent part of last Friday doing 5S. To bring you up to speed, I have moved offices seven times since 2011. Many of the moves were done very quickly; once I wasn’t even involved. Colleagues packed and moved my stuff because my time was committed elsewhere. While I had purged a lot of stuff, there was still lots of paper that had been accumulated. I found myself struggling to find things both in paper files and electronic files. I spend time searching for things and then, often, I would have to recreate the document. So, I welcomed the opportunity to sort through my file cabinets. And boy, did I! I filled one and a half huge blue garbage cans with recycling paper. I identified two drawers of paper for shredding. I organized six file drawers of files that are used by a variety of people and are frequently provided in response to public record requests. I can’t tell you have liberating it is to have made such progress. Although I ran across a few items that were historically significant, most of what I examined was not worth keeping. I’d suggest to anyone that they take the time to “sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain.”

      On another note, I was lucky enough to participate in SOURCE last week. I attended a talk by Mitchell Thomashow on his book, “The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus.” The nine elements include:

Infrastructure

Community

Learning

Energy

Governance

Curriculum

Food

Investment

Aesthetics

Materials

Wellness

Interpretation

 

        Dr. Thomashow was passionate about sustainability and challenged us to think broadly about it. “We succeed and stumble together. We develop expertise while reminding ourselves of the daunting and complex challenges. It is too grandiose to think that we can save the world. But we can do our best to construct thriving communities in our place and time.” Cleaning my office was the first step!

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