The marathon

Yesterday I ran in my first half marathon, as part of the Manitoba Marathon. As I was running I was thinking about what I could blog about. When I hit mile 8 and started to hit the wall, I realized that running in the marathon was a lot like deploying a new program at work. You need to identify the opportunity, obtain support, train, plan, set goals and execute, while moving past the roadblocks along the way!

Personal training and running became important to me when I started to work on our conversion project.  Many hours were going to be spent in meetings and at my computer. I chose to balance off my sedentary work life with an active lifestyle at home. 

The Process Excellence initiative at Assiniboine Credit Union (ACU) was identified as a means of addressing the inefficiencies that existed post our 2 mergers (the first was the largest in Manitoba Credit Union history) and banking system conversion, all of which occurred within 2 years of each other.  We had an amazing opportunity to help our staff improve the way we work in order to meet the needs of our members.  

Therein lies the support part – I needed the support of my family so that I could take the time to train for the race, the same as the Process Excellence (PE) deployment needs the support from my ACU colleagues in order to effect positive change and for that focus on continuous improvement to take hold and become a part of our culture.

Another form of support comes from talking to others who have been through the experience. While running in the marathon I met a couple and we started chatting about our aches and pains. Upon mentioning my throbbing knees they asked if I had taken Advil before the race. “Uh, no” I said.  They quickly replied “Well next time, take 3 Advil before the race - that will help!” While attending a Financial Institution Process Excellence consortium, I learned many valuable lessons that served as my deployment “Advil”, confirming the data challenges we were experiencing were common among all FI’s implementing a process improvement initiative!

The training phase was wonderful – both running and PE.  It was fun and exhilarating, exercising my body and mind!  The planning was intense – who to train and which projects would be the initial PE projects for ACU.  And then before executing, I set my goals.  For the half marathon – finish it….and be able to walk the next day.  The PE goals were set with my Executive Management team, focusing on financial savings and improving the work flow for our staff as means of meeting and exceeding our members’ expectations.

Lastly, execute – RUN THE RACE!  Don’t give up, I had to walk during some of my last miles 10 to 13, but I still finished in 2 hours and 31 minutes.  I may be walking like a penguin today – but I met my goal of walking the next day!  Now I have the confidence to train for the whole marathon!

Through our PE deployment, we have made significant improvements and our initial projects have generated positive change.  The results are coming in and we are extremely pleased with the benefits realized. The race continues for us, as we have launched 9 new projects and I look forward to the challenges and successes that we realize each day. 

Regional Finalist – Canada