Hidden Waste

 A short(ish) blog this week –and, for reasons that will become clear, please don’t print it! I was invited by a University Professor (UP) to give a talk to Masters Students on the subject of Intelligent Organisation. Travelling by car I asked that a parking space be held for me – parking being notoriously difficult in and around universities. A process, roughly as follows, ensues:

Email from JB to UP: Could you book me a parking space please?

Email from UP to Reception: Please book a parking space for JB on ‘date’

Email from Reception to UP: Place X has been reserved for JB, please send these instructions

Email from UP to JB: Place X has been reserved for you, please follow these instructions

Email from JB to UP: Thank you

On arrival at the car park, Place X is occupied by a builders van, so I park my car in Place Y. Following the received instructions, I enter the rear of the building, walk through the building to the reception desk.

JB: “Hello, I am JB, parking place X was reserved for me but was occupied so I have parked in parking place Y”

Receptionist: “Hello, thank you, I had better amend the paperwork or the parking attendant may ticket you”

Receptionist proceeds to amend a PAPER record and issues JB with a plasticised paper hangar to place in the car showing amended parking place number, date and duration of stay. Assumption that the paper record is, somehow, shared with the parking attendant so that it can be checked.

JB: “Thank You” and walk back through the building to place the hangar in the front of the car.

JB re-enters building and sets off to find host.

So far, 5 emails, two long walks (and yes I know exercise is good for me) and two pieces of paper one of which is plasticised so not recyclable (assuming none of the emails were printed) . A big university with many students, many buildings, many car parks, many visitors every day, many amended lists and many unrecyclable pieces of plasticised paper. The whole cost – staff, time, environmental, is hidden waste!

I cannot estimate the cost without some meaningless guess and sums. You dear Readers are smart enough to get the point (or make your own guesses!)

Now, I have no issue with the University managing its parking spaces. But, how much easier, cheaper would it be if, either UP or JB could log on to a Parking App and book a parking space (verified by UP via a tick box), insert time, duration and, importantly, registration number to the app. The app could send an electronic record to the parking attendant who, on their rounds, could verify that any cars parked were listed. No email chains, no paper, minimal time for UP and JB, no time at all for the Receptionist who could focus on other duties and responsibilities, money, time and non-recyclable materials would be saved. The only loss would be exercise for JB!

Now, think about how many other apparently sane, sensible and practical improvements could be made just by recognising the Hidden Waste.