My fifth week in the Summer Fellowship Program began with a Networking Luncheon hosted at the Columbus Foundation. This was by far one of the most interesting experiences that I have had this entire summer. In addition to the Columbus Foundation Fellows, interns from the Advancement Career Exploration Internship Program at Ohio State University joined us for a four course luncheon. The main goal of this experience was a lesson on dining etiquette. Now since I am quite a foodie, I would have definitely taken detailed pictures of each and every course that we had. Sadly, our etiquette instructor strictly declared the luncheon to be a no-phone zone so there are no pictures of this scrumptious meal. I will briefly describe the delicious lunch that we had: Our first course was a bowl of creamy tomato soup topped with a slightly nutty cheese and two croutons. The second course was a light spring salad featuring a choice of either ranch or Italian dressing. Our main entrée included a smear of richly fluffy mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, pine-nut stuffed boned chicken and a lemony sauce. Our final course featured a dark chocolate cup filled with raspberry mousse that was topped with two fresh raspberries and a smear of raspberry compote. All in all quite a scrumptious meal to be had!
I had never taken any etiquette or dining etiquette classes, so the entire formal dining experience was new to me. I learned a number of different things from this four-course meal on etiquette. Who knew that there are two ways to properly eat? Or that there was one appropriate way to eat a bowl of soup? Needless to say, I feel confident that I can now attend networking luncheons or lunch interviews and not commit any of the major etiquette faux pas. The other aspect of this luncheon was a brief experience in peer-to-peer networking. This was also a new experience for me. The type of networking that I typically do is with young or established professionals, so a networking experience among twenty-somethings who are still at school was a refreshing experience.
Now onto the main focus of my blog post this week: Process Improvement.
A large part of this fifth week at the House has been process improvement. As I began to dig further into the inner workings of the Ronald McDonald House, I found areas that could be further improved by instituting formalized processes. In some cases, there are formalized processes in place however no one utilizes them. In other cases there are no standardized processes, which inhibits the effectiveness of the time that both volunteers and staff spend. One of the biggest resources during this time was Heather Taylor, a Blackbelt from Cardinal Health that comes to the house every so often. Heather holds a Blackbelt certification in Six Sigma. Six Sigma is a set of techniques and tools for process improvement that was developed by Motorola in 1986. Heather has been helping out by improving key processes in a few areas of the house. My meetings with her have really helped me gain a basic understanding of process improvement and how important it is in the for-profit business sector. So it makes sense that in a sector riddled with funding issues and consistency problems, process improvement can make or break a non-profit organization. For this reason alone, I am trying to make my time at Ronald McDonald House effective by instituting a volunteer stewardship plan and creating another plan that addresses the inconsistent and underdeveloped processes that are holding back this house. The specific focus of this plan will be the Volunteer Program. Two of the main processes that I am looking at include the volunteer orientation and the room restocking process. Each of these processes is in need of improvement. Hopefully with some hard work I will be able to refresh these processes so that they are effective and efficient.