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Hampshire Cultural Trust making improvements, saving time and money with Lean Systems Thinking

Museum Name

Westbury Manor Museum, Fareham and City Museum, Winchester, both part of Hampshire Cultural Trust

Museum Contact

Erica Munro, South East Hampshire Area Curator, Hampshire Cultural Trust

Silvia Bungaro, Visitor Services Team Leader, Winchester, Hampshire Cultural Trust

The Project

Improve your museum, save time and money with Lean Systems Thinking


March - June 2015

What were the Project aims?

Winchester City Museum staff map their current process

After taking part in a one-day 'Lean Systems Thinking' workshop in March 2015, Hampshire Cultural Trust bid for the opportunity to have a day's intensive in-house support from consultant Debbie Brown, which took place in June.

A cross section of staff from the two museums came together as part of Lean Systems Thinking workshop to understand how the change methodology could be used to improve their retail process from enquiry, through to purchase, then finally recording and documentation. The team wanted to: understand the current process and the challenges it presents; look for similarities and differences between the two museums in order to identify best practice; and ultimately design a new more effective process that would be simple, efficient, add value to customers and re-motivate staff and volunteers.

What is the impact of the Project?

The session provided a valuable chance for the teams to spend a dedicated amount of time looking at existing practice and assessing it with a critical eye. Frontline staff are not often together as a group and it was great to spend the time having a good hard look at how things are done, and how they could be improved. This joint working and sharing of solutions has resulted in a draft new retail process for future trial and roll out.

Both museums understood that not enough focus is made on monitoring retail sales – the workshop helped to identify a way in which this could be done in a realistic and SMART way. Many of the workshop members felt that this was an insurmountable challenge and task to overcome but now understand the stages of the process and what is required from each step. This understanding has since motivated the Visitor Service Assistants who post-workshop have been busy analysing PLUs (price look-ups) and codes in readiness for the new shop openings.

What went well?

The presence of an external facilitator ensured that everybody’s opinions were solicited which ensured team ownership of the resulting solutions and confidence that changes would be sustained.

The opportunity to work with another museum, as well as an attendee from head office, enabled the teams to share experiences and understand alternative ways of working. The united voice around the joint solution increased its validity and enhances the opportunity for future roll out to other museums.

Overall the workshop concluded with real, tangible actions which were set with deadlines and allocated owners, increasing the confidence that changes would be made.

What didn't go well?

Westbury Manor staff highlight issues and suggest improvements

The session was incredibly full on over the day, which limited the amount of detail that could be achieved. If more time had been available, it would have provided an opportunity to share more experiences.

Joint working with another museum provided huge benefit as mentioned above – but it also did create a challenge caused by a different pace of working and the facilitator having to split their time between two rooms, leaving one team unsupported for short periods of time.

The new solution included the development of a new financial spreadsheet to support the monitoring of sales – unfortunately, the museums will not be getting this solution after all, but the principles & requirements designed will be fed into the new finance system which is due to arrive in August. This is a more robust solution in the long run but prevents the two museums from aligned the new process to their shop openings in July.

Top Tips

  1. A cross section of staff with dedicated time to concentrate on the task at hand
  2. Presence of an objective external facilitator who does not have a vested interest in the solution
  3. Attendees from another museum to share ideas and best practice

Plans for the future

Both museums intend to utilise the knowledge gained in the session by incorporating it into the development of their new shops, in order to understand what they will look like and how they can be run in a sustainable way. This is also partnered with the exciting news that the HCT sites will be getting new tills and PDQ machines, which means that Winchester and Westbury Manor will be operating with similar technology in future which further supports their redesign.