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Peaceful Protest

2 August 2022
BBC News
BBC News

Some of you might remember that I went viral on Twitter once when I was miffed at a 5 men panel on Good Morning Britain passing judgement on whether or not Meghan Markle was a bully. You can read about my moment in the sun here –  A Tweet’s Tale – Sarah Lethbridge’s Lean Blog – Cardiff University.  Not quite as exciting (but almost as dramatic) last night, I got 111 likes on my Instagram comment in response to Gary Lineker’s post of the epochal image of Chloe Kelly’s European Championship final goal celebration. Gary, who I like enough to follow on Instagram, proclaimed that Chloe was the best “bra none”.  Erm Gary, this is a moment of celebration! How about NOT referring to a device designed to help us manage two appendages that are really quite problematic in sporting scenarios within your celebratory declaration! I was cross. The Lionesses have achieved so much.  DO NOT MENTION BRAS OR BOOBS OR INDEED ANY ‘WOMEN’S THINGS’.  Just talk about the team as successful people please!!!

My post wasn’t without sacrifice. I had to deal with one Snowflake emoji, one ‘shut up’ and I was called a ‘Karen’ by about 5 extremely vexed males.  (By the way, I really feel for all of the Karens out there.  Even Queen Beyonce used your name in vain in her new hit record Renaissance. Beyonce – #notallKarens. Please. My Auntie Karen is kindness personified).

Anyway…. after a couple of hours Gary deleted the ‘bra none’ on Twitter and Instagram.  Come to think about it, I haven’t seen a ‘manel’ on GMB since my viral tweet either?!  I can only reach the conclusion that I possess social media superpowers. *Beyoncehairtoss gif*

Now, I absolutely know that my tweet and Instagram post were not THE ONLY reason to make Piers quit or make the most famous British crisp eating footballer edit his posts, I did contribute though, albeit in a small way, to a movement – a wave of criticism, which yes, had power.

Cardiff University has come under its own wave of criticism recently because of the monumental almighty task that was Graduation.  Of the millions of different pandemic disappointments, it was noble and right of Cardiff to commit to running ceremonies for the Class of 2020, Class of 2021 and the Class of 2022 – but that’s a lot of students that need a Graduation ceremony.

With so many students to look after, the temptation of course (and some would say necessity) is TO GO LARGE seeking Economies of Scale as opposed to Economies of Flow.  I honestly don’t believe that ‘economies of scale’ was selected as an approach to save money in this instance, the range of celebrations put on puts paid to that notion, more that economies of scale were sought as a means to deal with the very large numbers of graduates.  But as I discuss in the blog post, sometimes economies of scale can be tricky beasts and come with their own set of problems…  often ‘little and often’ economies of flow can win in the battle for service experience.

The first wave of criticism came when students learned that the scale of the event meant that they wouldn’t individually get the opportunity to hear their name out loud and walk across the stage. (I completely see why this act wasn’t a part of the ceremony. I cannot imagine sitting down listening to 6795 names being read aloud – how long would it take? 4 hours?! Plus how sore would my (already eczema ridden) hands be from clapping for all of those graduates!?) But the University listened, and School ceremonies were organised in response which enabled the graduates to have a more personal celebration within their home School.

I was mightily impressed that the concerns were listened to and acted upon.  I wasn’t at the Principality Stadium but I have heard several accounts and people loved the grandeur and all agreed how much effort the University had put in to make the event emotional and memorable and that they had really enjoyed the ceremony.  The Business School and Central University also put a lot of time and trouble into making sure that our students felt individually recognised and celebrated with Business School celebrations too.  The problem, by all accounts, came from the mega queues that formed when so many people were trying to get gowns and photographs.

And you know how I feel about queues.

Now. I confess that I have never completely understood Little’s Law and Kingman’s Equation to be able to quote the equations off the top of my head (although I can always remember x = -b + or – the square root of b squared minus 4 ab all over 2a – thanks GCSE Maths), but what John Bicheno taught me (South African accent “Kingman’s Equation is the Equation of Lean!”) was that there is a direct relationship between the arrival rate, the capacity within a system, the amount of ‘work in progress’ in a system, the time taken to process the task in the queue.  The only way you can deal with variation is through TIME, INVENTORY and CAPACITY and IN NO OTHER WAY.  If you overload a system and don’t have a buffer of spare capacity (hundreds of people at the gown table), or work in progress (ample gowns), or tons of time to spare (“my school ceremony is in 50 minutes!!!”) very quickly A QUEUE FORMS.  Put in even more simple terms, if you don’t have any gowns to give out because they haven’t been returned and loads of people arrive to pick up the gowns at the same time, you’re going to have a problem.

So many people had a wonderful day with their families and friends, but it is a great shame for the people that had to queue so long on the second day of the festivities.  The good news is though, that protests have power.  The University will listen and even though, please God, we hopefully won’t have to graduate so many students at the same time in the future, lessons will be learned, suppliers will be negotiated with, and I guarantee the gown and photo queues seen in 2022 won’t be allowed to ever happen again.

And so we move …. Davide and Ekin Su have just won Love Island – the first time in 12 years that I have agreed with a public vote! Maybe there is hope after all!