Change in the Air and Brexit. Make it Work!

As Theresa May said “Change is in the Air”. For both the UK, the USA and Europe it is a time to look forward and not backward.

The question we ask will determine our outcomes. Businesses need to respond in an appreciative and positive way.

Tradtional Approaches will not work, which is why there is so much concern about Brexit.

Brexit offers NEW opportunities which need to be taken. Businesses need to be flexible and responsive.

When we are looking for new directions and opportunities there is no point in looking a problems we currently have. These problems are rooted in the past, and solving them will only address the problems we had in the past.


The future is in our imagination and in our organisation !

Rather, ask “what do we do exceptionally well”? What of these things can we take into the future to look for new ways of working and proceeding. In doing this we can begin to envision a future which we are able to contribute to, and more importantly be a powerful contributive force towards.

By doing this businesses in Europe and the UK can face the future with some degree of positivity, and look forward to a new destiny which they can help to form.

How can we help ?

We specialise in Workshops to encourage and facilitate businesses to look at their strengths and to define a dream and destiny for the future. We use an approach called “Appreciative Inquiry” which is best described as Group based Mindfulness. (We are certified in both NLP and AI, so can really help your organisation to face the future. Contact me for a very special offer on these workshops (please allow 2 days for your top management).

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Many years ago (before many of you were around) there was a book which took the business world by Storm. It was called “Accounting for Growth”. It earned the 2 writers from the FT the joy of being fired.

What they showed was how accountants made it look as though companies had grown by “creative accounting”. This included significant overvaluation of assets. Those who did this were Tottenham Hotspur AFC and Colourroll. Not heard of Colourroll? Well they went bust as a result of these fiddles.

So how do we manage for REAL growth? Don’t forget the accounts though?

Accounts were devised in an age of slow change and stable organisations. The accounting systems reflected that era and do so today.

To move forward we need to change our view about business structures – they need to be flexible. Most companies can’t handle this as their accounts systems don’t reflect the new structure. So as well as changing structures we should change the accounting to reflect the new organisation and to tell us what is happening!balloons in field

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Does Innovation feel like this? Too much hard work? It need not be!

Innovation need not be dependant upon inspiration. Seldom is it? That is just as well, as we can not force inspiration, but we can work to innovate.


Innovation is no less a business process that any other task in the work place.

There are many idea generation metholdologies to help teams think “beyond the box”. These are incorrectly called “Brain storming”. Incorrectly because “Brain Storming is not
structured to a particular goal.

Amongst these tools are:

Affinity Diagrams (sticky note idea generation and clustering)
Interrelationship Diagrams (an often ignored but essential next step to the above)
Lateral Thinking (devised by Dr Edward deBono) and made applicable through his “concept fan”.
Parallel Thinking (again de Bono’s work, to get the teams thinking all the same at once, and applied through the 6 Thinking Hats.)
Inventive Problem Solving (designed by Altshutller, allowing design engineers to see thinks in a new way, also know as TRIZ).

These and more tools are not difficult to use. If used well they can provide quick results in terms of new thinking. If used badly they can be counterproductive.

Talk with us if these methods could help your business develop.


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Business Ecology

Rivers are kept flowing by organisations such as the Wye & Usk Foundation, as in this photo of a section of the River Crai.

In Business we often talk of Process Flow. RIvers need regular maintenance to keep them in the state of the river above.
Trees fall in the River and at worst block the flow; animals and humans cause damage, as well as pollution being an issue.
The same happens to business processes. We need to keep them running effectively by regular maintenance. Some times
the work that needs to be done is so major it is really a work of improvement to restore things back to their original

Better Change are experts in Business Ecology, in getting things back to how they should be.
We can also look to see if any work can be done to make things better, and really improve the flow of the

Contact us to talk about how we can help you.

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How small companies can benefit from their accounts ?


I know ! doing accounts is a necessary evil if you have a business. They are a cost which add no benefit to the business.

If you are paying to have accounts prepared and submitted to Companies House, it makes sense to make them work for you.

This can be done if you use “Transformational Accounting” ©. (TA)

TA is not an off the shelf package, but something that needs to be tailored for each business.

The Objective of Transformational Accounting:

To make the data that goes into your accounts relevant to your business. To use it to analyse your performance; predict the future and get early warnings of problems that might be coming.

Does this seem too true to believe? It need not do. This is the reason that TA is NOT an off the shelf package, but can be tailored for your business using whatever software you are using.


How it works:

  1. By ensuring your account codes reflect important activities in your business, we can trace costs more accurately to activity streams.
  2. Ensure that Revenue streams reflect the activities in your business.
  3. Analyse the data regularly and correctly. This will be shown to users.
  4. Act on the analysis to take advantage of opportunities.


There are 4 key “rules” which will be covered in another Blog.

Please contact me to find out more.

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RAG Does not work at all!

Ok, I know many of you will not agree with this, but I feel it is a critical error in large organisations, particularly governments.

The growing trend of using traffic lights to monitor performance is for me not only worrying. It is now used in Schools and Hospitals. To me it is a Red Rag to a bull!
Why don’t I like them:
1. the scoring is too often arbitrary and uses “attributes” rather than variables data.
2. even when using variables data it fails to take account of common cause or assignable cause differences. It fails to show it the process is operating and its normal levels and if the process needs improving or if the are special affects to be considered.
3. The above point is of more concern when these are used for “benchmarking”. In this, local circumstances are not taken into account, where we should be showing if an entity is doing the best it can given its circumstances.
4. What will be the psychological effect / impact on those associated with a Red or Green entity. Fine for one, bad for the other. Largely however common cause variation is treated as assignable and will result in process “tampering” which in the long run will and can only be negative.
5. Despite the platitudes to the contrary nothing is done through them to encourage improvement

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A&E Waiting Times. Percentages are no guide

The government recently said “they do not recognise the figures” released about people waiting more than 4 hours in hospitals.

Using percentages has hidden the decline in performance in A&E departments! The actual number of people waiting more than 4 hours has been rising consistently; the “4 hour” target has done nothing to stop this.

Looking at the above chart you will see that ACTUAL numbers (of people waiting more than 4 hours) have risen from around 50,000 in 2010 to 270,000 at the end of 2016.


Lessons to learn:

  1. Percentages are not a good measure to use to monitor improvement
  2. Targets have not worked! The figures have been manipulated to meet the government targets until it has been impossible to fiddle anymore!
  3. Brian Joiner said: If you manage people by targets they will do one of three things;
    a) work to improve the system. If they can’t do that, as they often are not:
    b) distort the sytems and
    c) distort the data.


The above chart shows how many people waited more than 12 hours before being admitted to hospital.

These figures reflect a failure in management and government. The NHS is in desperate need of clear process excellence programmes, with a clarity and continuity of purpose. The chart clearly shows the increase of numbers after 2014. These are government figures!

Let me be clear; I am not complaining against the NHS staff, but against the system which makes their job impossible to excel at.

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World Class Quality is Attainable

World class quality is not just for large organisations.

It is NOT about being the “best of the best” (as Wikipedia puts it). It IS about being the best you can be.

The answer to World Class Quality is to provide services or products to the customers requirement time after time.


The route to World Class Quality is not difficult or expensive. It does require commitment to continual improvement. This can be done of
companies of all sizes.

It should be done by all sizes of companies so that they remain competitive and stay in business.

How do you do it:

1. Fully understand the customer requirements.

2. Fully understand your production or service process

3. Allow the team operating the process to make changes for improvement as they find them,

4. Monitor day by day performance and take appropriate action to improve the process.

5. Continue to review and seek improvements, and check the customer requirements.

How do you define World Class Quality

– constantly meet the customer requirements with little of no change to performance standards.

Thus can be and is done by businesses of all sizes.

If you need help contact us. (we apply the work of Prof Kano to Customer excellence)  We have been trained in a master class by Prof Kano, and have practiced his methods with many clients.

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Crisis ? Power up in Case.

Whether or not we will face a Crisis in the next months is unclear. Brexit has left many businesses unsure of the future; exchange rates are in turmoil so any business dealing internationally is subject to more uncertainty.

If you ride a mountain bike, you will know that when the going changes, it is time to change gear. This needs a choice of gears.

Does your management have multiple gears to help handle an uphill ride?

Some time ago, the quality Guru W.E Deming (after whom the most prestigious quality prize in Japan is named) showed that management needed to adopt a system of tools which would enable businesses to power up to face a Crisis.

There has never been a better time to review and embrace his thinking;

These four elements are:

Understand Variation: all managers know that data from their business exhibits variation. Few realise that there are lessons to be learned from this variation. No longer do you

need to say “some days are better than others”. We can learn how to react to data; and learn that there are good ways and bad ways to react.

Psychology: by understanding that people all face challenges differently managers can learn how to manage a crisis. Part of this thinking is to adopt the 14 principles suggested

by Deming to become managers of excellent organisations.

Theory of Knowledge: Successful organisations are learning organisations. Not all problems need to be solved by managers. By empowering the organisation to continually

improve day to day processes the business will soon excel and produce consistently high quality.

Systems Thinking: No organisation exists in a vacuum. All processes interreact. Successful organisations do not think in functions but in processes. Process Thinking leads

businesses to be customer focused. Typically function focus tends to be less customer focused, or is limited in the customer view. To be truly customer focused the whole

organisation needs to be orientated to customer focus. The ensures that businesses can continue to delight their ultimate customer.

Together these four items provide the gear power which will enable management teams to face a crisis.

In addition to these the Japanese developed a set of tools called the seven management and planning tools. These are great for allowing companies to self help there way to clarity.

We run workshops for companies to learn these methodologies by working on their own business. If a management team of six enrol then one will will end enabled to facilitate future workshops of this kind.

Contact me for more information.



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What is system thinking ?

Systems Thinking is the science/art of understanding an overall system in the context of its environment. Every system (take a hi-fi system) has a number of separate components, which are connected together to achieve the objective of the total system.

From this is can be seen that optimising one component might hinder the rest of the system and not produce an optimal result. The optimal result is obtained when all the parts work TOGETHER to produce the results. This is what I believe good field sport team managers are able to achieve.


A team manager in say football, does not sit his chair by the goal keeper to watch how that one player performs- he watches the game from a high position in order to see the game as a whole.

As business managers we should do the same, and be able to observe how our own system is working. Notice that the manager does not sit behind the lap tops analysing micro data of individual players performance. He wants to see how it performs as a whole.

Not enough business managers understand their businesses as a whole, that is from a high level. Too many get sucked into “micro managerment”. It is no wonder that overall their organisations are dysfunctional and not happy places to work. With such a view it is easy for a culture of blame to come in, which will add no value to the overall outcome of the system.

We understand how to implement a systems view and apply system performance, and how to achieve the maximum benefit from the organisation. Contact us to discuss how we could help you.

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