I walked into the bar, there were three people standing at the counter and a barman.

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The patrons were in blazers and slacks each with a patch on their breast pockets telling their past to anyone in the know, RAF, Navy, particular army regiments. They looked at me with disdain, I was in a mishmash of military combat fatigues, scuffed boots, dark brown stains on my trousers, unkempt hair and bristles; more beard than shadow. I could see the judgement in their eyes, if I were military, how could I dare allow myself to enter this establishment in this state, so disrespectful. If I wasn’t military, I was obviously a Walter Mitty type, a wannabe soldier…

A guide to improving your interactions

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Have you found that no matter what you say, a conversation begins to spiral out of control? Or you are trying to get someone to open up to you, but their defences are up? Knowing this theory might help you achieve the outcome you are looking for.

Miguel & Craig

Miguel walks into the storeroom and sees it is still a mess, he turns to the storeman, Craig, puts his hands on his hips and says “I thought I told you to tidy this up last week?”, Craig steps back and stammers “It’s not my fault, the…

How often have you sat in training thinking this is not worth my time? Here is a way to ensure your training is and stays relevant to the learners.

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Often when we are building our training, we deliver what we think the delegates want to hear, getting feedback on the session straight after delivering it, when everyone is all smiley and looking forward to going home.

However, is this really efficient use of your delegates time or the cost of running the training? Let’s go through a five-stage approach to building a relevant and agile learning programme.

Brexit is sure to bring about huge bureaucracy challenges, the speed of business can’t wait so how can Lean thinking help?

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The deal has been signed and parliament has ratified it, Brexit is happening and although there will be fewer tariffs than feared there is likely to be more bureaucracy for companies to manage when dealing with cross border supply chains. Luckily, Lean thinking can help with, keeping the impact of additional bureaucracy to a minimum. Four Lean tools will help here: Process Mapping, SMED, 7 Flows and Risk Analysis (FMEA / Try-Storming). …

The sun is blazing, but we are in the shade of the wall behind us, a wall of sandstone worn smooth by millennia of sandstorms.

An RAF Tornado over the desert (image by Canva)

I peak around the bolder and see ex-soviet trucks and SUVs with a couple of Land Cruisers all painted in desert camouflage with red, white, and black tricolours painted on their doors. They definitely are not friendly.

Our vehicles were abandoned, out of fuel, necessitating an attempt to go further on foot, but all we have is our rifles and bayonets, an old weapon from old wars. The odd bullet buzzes overhead, ricocheting off rocks behind us, sounding like an old western movie, the zinging sound echoing off the natural wall behind us. We are ten in number who are…

So far my life can be split into three acts. Childhood, the RAF Years and the Lean Years


I am a native of Belfast having grown-up during the Troubles ( I was born three days before Bloody Sunday).

I am profoundly influenced by my family my hardworking Mum & Dad and my two brothers and one sister, I am the youngest. I went to secondary school having failed my 11plus exam (a test primary school pupils are given, to stream them into academic orientated grammar education or vocational secondary education, though society made it feel like pass or fail at life).

The RAF Years

Leaving school at 16 years old I started an Electrical Technician Apprenticeship but after two years I…

Facilitating a process mapping session can take you down rabbit holes, sap time, be frustrating and quite boring, the following 10 top tips should help you avoid this.

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All improvement methodologies use process mapping as a tool to understand, baseline and agree on how the current process runs, they also use mapping to agree on how any improvements will fit together by mapping the future process. Mapping is hugely useful, it brings the team together around a problem, it externalises the process avoiding finger-pointing, it makes clear the real problems causing the process to fail and it is a backbone on which the team can hang other data and information; think costs, lead times, and even who does what.

1. Agree on the owner of the process and assemble the right team

Often you will have a manager come to you…

Skeleton maintenance crews during Covid-19 will mean a tsunami of maintenance activity when Planned Plant Shutdowns are due. How can you maximise maintenance efficiency?

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With the covid-19 restrictions, many companies have been reducing their maintenance staff to a minimum and the maintenance activities to essential to reduce people’s exposure to the disease.

However, as time moves on the maintenance that has not been done will rise in urgency and is likely to have a surge, especially when restrictions ease and when one or more of the pending vaccinations become available.

The surge is due to the plant carrying or patching-up low-level faults and patched or postponed maintenance will be growing in risk as time and usage move on. Eventually, this will lead to a…

From the day I started working as a Continuous Improvement practitioner I became indoctrinated.

The paradigm has been, for a Continuous Improvement culture to take hold there needs to be a dire organisational reason for this to happen. Normally this is interpreted as a financial difficulty, an oft cited example is Toyota with the difficulties Japanese industry had after WWII. It doesn’t need to be financial, BP realigned itself after the Texas City explosion taking on its Operating Management System which included Continuous Improvement and having as a central part of its culture transformation after Macondo. …

Continuous Improvement isn’t just Lean, Agile and Six-Sigma. There are other disciplines that fit under the CI “brolly” for instance Practical Process Improvement, Organisational Development and Systems Thinking.

Systems Thinking grew out of cybernetics. There are two approaches discussed in Systems Thinking, the Hard Systems Method (HSM) and Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), Systems Thinkers may also talk about the Viable Systems Model (VSM).

HSM assumes a situation is well defined and has a single optimum solution, it is a scientific approach. In the discipline of Systems Thinking this was all that was discussed from its inception until Professor Peter Checkland (from the University of Lancaster) realised that HSM thinking was not enough, for many systems to function properly they had to take account of the humanity that the…

Darren Clyde

Darren is a business improvement expert with 15 years experience working with organisations to reduce the cost and frustration of doing day to day work.

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