Continuous Improvement blogAre we all MAD?

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting two workshops at the Bournemouth University Service Excellence Conference 2016.

During the morning session I heard about the exciting things that are happening around service excellence in Bournemouth University and what service excellence means for the people of the organisation. One example of this, which resonated with me, was David Biggins from the Centre for Excellence and Learning who shared his views that service excellence was about Effectiveness, Efficiencies, Equity and Excellence.

Once again this year, Barry’s Excellence Adventure (this year on roller skates) and Nat’s Chats were both informative and highly entertaining.

The keynote presentations in the morning were delivered by Paul McGee (aka The Sumo Guy) as well as Gemma Tomkinson and Dolly Gulliford talking about the work of the BBC Spark team.

BBC Spark

Bar graph

I met Adrian Ruth (Director of BBC Spark) at the Lean Management Journal Conference in 2015 and was really impressed with the work they are doing on Lean at the BBC. So it was great to hear an update on their progress from one of Adrian’s colleagues, Gemma Tomkinson and Dolly Gulliford from BBC South.

One of the things I was delighted to see, was some evidenced data of the positive impact that BBC Spark was having. The image above shows the improvement of using news stories on more than one platform before and after a BBC Spark project, across a number of BBC Regions. It also struck me that the approach the BBC were taking to Lean was very similar to the University of Strathclyde, so I very much hope that there is an opportunity in the future for us to collaborate in some way.

It’s also great news that Adrian Ruth and one of his colleagues from BBC Scotland will be speaking at the International Lean in Higher Education Conference in Stirling in November 2016.


I found the session delivered by Paul McGee to be very thought provoking, interactive and highly entertaining. The SUMO (Shut Up & Move On) approach is summarised by six principles:

  • Taking responsibility for where you find yourself in life
  • The impact & importance of attitude & mindset
  • Managing your emotions & developing resilience under pressure
  • Building better relationships with customers & colleagues
  • How to overcome procrastination & take positive action
  • Forget ‘whatever will be will be’ – take action to create the future you want

Paul also told us that we were all MAD. Making A Difference. I really like this simple acronym. I also like to think that me and rest of the Business Improvement Team are MAD. The challenge, however, is evidencing the fact that you are MAD. This leads nicely into the workshop sessions I delivered during the afternoon of the conference.

The interactive tennis ball challenge

Group of people doing an exercise with tennis balls

My workshops in the afternoon were on the subject of evidencing the impact of service excellence process improvements. During the workshops, I shared the innovative improvement processes in the University of Strathclyde which led to the publication of the nationally regarded - ‘A guide to evidencing the benefits of business process improvement in Higher Education’ and how this approach is relevant to the service excellence programme in Bournemouth University.

I even broke out the tennis balls to demonstrate how a process can be improved and how the improvements can be captured and evidenced. I thought the level of interaction and engagement during the workshops was great, which made my job a lot easier.

Cheese and wine taster session

Buffet at an event

During lunch at the conference, the organisers had arranged for a very impressive cheese and wine taster session (see below), with experts on hand to advise on which wine was best suited with each cheese. A wonderful idea which went down very well with the delegates.

Thank you to Susanne Clarke, Head of Service Excellence and Organisational Change Lead (Student Journey) and her team at Bournemouth University for inviting me and for all of their help and support during the day.