Creating A Sense Of Belonging

In the realm of organizational practices, a diverse range of research from esteemed thought leaders is often employed. These insights span strategy development, operations management, financial acumen, risk assessment, process refinement, and adept problem-solving. These conventional management domains are pivotal in crafting robust workflows that steer organizations toward their missions. Yet, within this landscape, there exists a lesser-explored realm – the realm of social psychology.

Social psychology delves into the dynamics of human interactions and their impacts on individual behavior. Renowned experiments such as the Asch Conformity, Bobo Doll, Stanford Prison, and Milgram Experiments present compelling evidence that our actions are indeed influenced by the actions of those around us ( The collective actions and activities of a group leave a profound and enduring imprint on the decision-making processes of each individual.

Why does this happen? The answer lies in our innate desire to belong, to be a part of a larger collective. In this quest, individuals seek out cues that align their values and aspirations with those of the group. How then can organizations demonstrate that they are the right haven for this sense of belonging? One avenue lies in the language they employ.

Consider these strategies to convey a sense of belonging:

  1. Cultivate Curiosity: Curiosity begets understanding and feelings of connectedness. Framing questions with openness and expansiveness is pivotal. For instance, during team meetings, rather than dictating the agenda, inquire about what topics they wish to discuss for their weekly objectives. This approach empowers individuals, ignites action, and offers insights into the elements that bolster or impede progress.
  2. Express Personal Investment: One-on-one interactions present an opportunity to not only delve into tasks but also the emotional landscape. Skillfully navigating these conversations reveals your vested interest not only in their work but in their holistic well-being. For example, a leader could not only ask questions about the progress of a work task but also ask timely questions about how an employee is doing after a difficult objective has been completed. This allows space for them to open up about their current successes and struggles. Thus, creating belonging.
  3. Seek Consent: A powerful gesture of respect and acknowledgment lies in seeking permission before proffering advice. Often, our impulse is to provide guidance, assuming that others are grappling with challenges. However, unsolicited advice might be construed as condescension. Instead, by asking for permission, you convey care and esteem.

In conclusion, while the troves of knowledge from conventional management fields are undoubtedly invaluable, the often-overlooked domain of social psychology wields tremendous influence. The experiments that underscore our susceptibility to social dynamics serve as a reminder of the significant role these dynamics play in organizational ecosystems. Establishing a sense of belonging and cohesion isn’t confined to conventional strategies; fostering a communal spirit can be conveyed through language and interaction.



Speak To Lead: How To Embrace Your Challenge Voice Webinar Recording

Are you ready to revolutionize the way you communicate and lead? Doctor of Psychology Bryan Cutliff leads this webinar centred around the transformative concept of the “challenge voice”. Discover how this unique and dynamic vocal technique can reshape your interactions, amplify your influence, and supercharge your team’s productivity.

Speak To Lead: How To Embrace Your Challenge Voice recording & transcript

Speak To Lead: How To Embrace Your Challenge Voice Full Recording

Why Curiosity is Essential for Gemba

In the world of effective leadership, one invaluable skill often goes overlooked—Gemba. While Gemba is often associated with process improvement, its true power lies in its ability to transform leadership communication. In this blog, we’ll explore the critical role of communication in Gemba and provide you with two essential tips to enhance your Gemba skills in this regard.

The Power of Communication in Gemba

Effective communication is at the heart of Gemba. When leaders engage in Gemba, they’re not just inspecting processes; they’re building connections, fostering understanding, and driving positive change through dialogue. It’s not about talking; it’s about listening, observing, and engaging in meaningful conversations.

Tip 1: Embrace Active Listening

Listening is the cornerstone of successful Gemba. To truly understand your team and their challenges, you must become an active listener. Here’s how:

  • Be Present: When you’re in Gemba, be fully present. Put away distractions, clear your mind, and focus on the person you’re engaging with.
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage open dialogue by asking questions that invite discussion. Instead of closed questions with yes/no answers, use inquiries that begin with “how,” “what,” and “why.” This encourages your team to share their insights and concerns.
  • Paraphrase and Clarify: After someone speaks, paraphrase their statements to show you’re actively listening and to ensure you’ve understood correctly. Ask for clarification when needed.
  • Resist the Urge to Interrupt: Allow the speaker to finish their thoughts without interruption. Interrupting can stifle open communication and prevent valuable insights from emerging.

Tip 2: Practice the 80/20 Rule

Ritsuo Shingo’s advice to have “Big Ears, Big Eyes, and a small mouth” in Gemba couldn’t be truer. Aim to spend 80% of your Gemba time listening and observing, and just 20% talking. Here’s how to implement this rule effectively:

  • Observe Actively: Pay attention to details in the workplace. Observe how tasks are performed, note any obstacles or inefficiencies, and identify areas for improvement.
  • Encourage Feedback: During your Gemba visits, encourage your team members to share their thoughts and experiences. Create a safe space for them to provide feedback, knowing that their input is valued and will lead to positive change.
  • Lead by Example: As a leader, your actions speak volumes. When you prioritize listening and observing, your team will follow suit. By modeling the 80/20 rule, you set a standard for open communication.

In conclusion, Gemba is not just a tool for process improvement; it’s a powerful means of leadership communication. By actively listening and adhering to the 80/20 rule, you can enhance your Gemba skills and transform your leadership approach. These skills will not only improve your ability to lead effectively but also foster a culture of open communication and continuous improvement within your team. So, start your Gemba journey today, and watch your leadership skills soar to new heights.




Explore / Control / Position: What’s the Difference and Why Should you Care?​

Effective communication is the lifeblood of any successful organization. It’s not merely a tool for interaction; it’s the very essence of how we navigate challenges, share ideas, and collaborate. Yet, there are pitfalls to be aware of when it comes to communication.

The Pitfalls of Communication:

  1. Unconscious Communication: Often, we communicate without conscious thought, assuming that our words are having the desired impact. However, unintended consequences can arise when we don’t pause to consider the effects of our words.
  2. Diverse Communication Styles: People employ three distinct communication styles—Explore, Control, and Position—in unique and personalized ways. These styles can greatly influence the effectiveness of communication.
    • Explore: Used to ask questions that facilitate discussions, deepen understanding, or reveal new information.
    • Control: Used when providing instructions or information, making corrections or challenging for change.
    • Position:  Employed to assert a point of view or simplify complex ideas.

Recognizing Communication Tendencies:

We all have communication tendencies, and sometimes these tendencies can hinder effective communication. For example:

  • Are you familiar with the person who dominates conversations with their opinions, leaving no room for others to contribute?
  • Have you encountered someone who bombards you with questions but divulges little about themselves, making conversations feel one-sided?
  • Or perhaps you’ve met someone who challenges or criticizes almost everything, making you want to avoid interactions with them.

These extremes can limit our impact and lead to unintended outcomes.


Unlocking Effective Communication:

So, what can you do to enhance your communication skills? Start by discovering your communication tendencies using the Voiceprint psychometric tool. This tool reveals your hidden communication biases—whether you’re an inquisitive asker, an assertive positioner, or a relentless controller and challenger.

Once you understand your communication preferences, consider how they align with your role and the outcomes you aim to achieve in your interactions.



Tailoring Communication to Your Goals:

For instance, if your role involves coaching, and you lean towards positioning communication, you may need to adjust your approach. Instead of providing answers, focus on asking more questions:

  • “Tell me more about your idea.”
  • “How do you plan to get started?”
  • “What obstacles do you anticipate?”

On the other hand, if your organization requires strict adherence to standard procedures, embracing the exploratory voice can lead to more variation. In this scenario, leaders with strong control voices can excel by setting clear expectations:

  • “Let’s revisit our workplace standards. We have a procedure for this; let’s refresh our knowledge and follow it.”

Communication is a powerful tool that shapes our professional lives. Understanding your communication preferences and adapting them to the situation can amplify your impact. The psychometric approach provides insights, while leadership development based on these insights enhances your communication skills, enabling you to achieve better outcomes in your daily interactions. Unlock the power of effective communication by mastering your Voiceprint.


Master your challenge voice with our upcoming webinar Speak to Lead: Embracing your Challenge Voice, Register for free here

Why do team members get offended by your challenges?

Why do people get offended by our challenge voice? 

The challenge voice is one of the voices we most readily recognize; it’s the voice that stimulates our prehistoric brain most easily.  It triggers our most primitive reactions – flight, fight, or freeze.  Typically, when we are challenged, we know we have been so.

When people react badly to a challenge, it’s often because they didn’t see it coming or it wasn’t skillfully applied and leaves others feeling attacked.  As a leader, we need to learn not only to deliver skillful challenges but also to be able to accept them!

The challenge voice is designed to make us stop and think; to interrupt what we know from our own perspective and switch our thinking to another point of view.  It helps us make better decisions and create a wider perspective.


What stops us from using challenge effectively? 

Some of us may have tried in the past to challenge and been met by defensive behavior or unwelcomed return attacks, resulting in us avoiding using this voice again.  Some organizations have gone through a past history where challenge has created a toxic culture which makes it feel unsafe to challenge others for fear of recreating that working environment.


How can YOU get better at embracing the challenge voice?

For teams that have had bad experiences of challenge and where it sends them into a state of silence (freeze or flight), help the team understand that this voice is an important part of allowing us to progress.  In the first instance, signpost the challenge by saying things like “I’d like to challenge that point…” “My challenge to you is…” – This allows the receiver to know that something we may not want to hear is coming.

Once we’ve been through the challenge cycle, have a bit of reflection time with the team asking questions like “Which part of that challenge felt most uncomfortable”,  “Was that a reasonable challenge?”, “Which part of this challenge felt unreasonable?”.  These sorts of questions allow both the challenger and the team to practice how they challenge effectively.  Be sure you are open to the feedback without getting defensive and potentially attacking back otherwise, you will lose the trust of the team.  9/10 times, when teams think about what was unreasonable about a challenge, they recognize the answer is nothing, and that they just don’t like being picked up on something they missed!

If you yourself are someone who challenges openly but experiences a lot of attacking or defensive behavior in return, it’s likely that your challenges are not landing effectively and you may be unskilfully applying.  Again, signposting is one way to soften the blow.

Ensure that when you are challenging you keep it away from the personal and always use facts to help ground the challenge.  Give others time to formulate their answer and respond, you don’t need to challenge everything!


Develop the art of Leadership communication with this intensive 3-day course REGISTER HERE

Pocket Guide to Digital Transformation

Why Should you Digitally Transform? 

Every organisation wants to do more with less while simultaneously increasing the level of service that they deliver to their customers. Given this, seemingly impossible task, winning and losing will almost certainly be determined by an organisation’s ability to leverage technology to improve the way that they work. 

Digital Transformation is more than just investing in technology, in fact, research suggests that 70% of Digital Transformations fail to meet their objectives, so the question becomes – what can be done to maximise your chances of success?


Tip 1: Align Digital Transformation with your Strategy

Using an ever-increasing amount of technology isn’t necessarily going to solve your problems. In fact, excessive, unnecessary use of technology can have the opposite effect leaving people confused as to how work should be done while creating an unnecessary IT management overhead. Technology shouldn’t be used for the sake of using technology, there has to be a strategic reason.  



The key is to create a Digital Strategy relating to your existing Business Strategy which, in turn, needs to be formulated in support of achieving your organisation’s purpose.  

Every Digital transformation that you make must have a clear line of sight of your ability to achieve your overarching purpose.  


Tip 2: Prioritise, Prioritise, Prioritise

You will almost certainly have more ideas of opportunities to digitise than resources to successfully implement these ideas, so rather than spreading yourself too thin you need to diligently prioritise your efforts.  

This prioritisation needs to be driven by your Digital Strategy – every idea needs to be assessed against your strategy and only those which align should proceed.  

Don’t let good ideas absorb resources that could be directed toward great ideas.  


Tip 3: Consider all available solutions

Have you found a new tool that looks like it can solve all of your problems? Before you sign on the dotted line and jump into implementation you need to confirm the best path forward.  

First and foremost you need to begin with process optimisation. If your underlying process has problems, then automating that process is only going to scale those problems up.  

Once you have a stable process, the next step is requirements gathering where you define exactly what you need the system to do. You then need to survey the market and decide if an off-the-shelf product exists that is fit for purpose or if there’s a need for custom development.  


Tip 4: Don’t forget to change

Too often Digital Transformation revolves around identifying and implementing the right technology. The reality is that the best technology in the world will only deliver value if people use it.



In order to deliver business outcomes, you need not only an implementation roadmap that outlines your technical implementation but also a change roadmap that ensures that you bring people along for the ride and make Digital Transformation a human-central, tech-enabled business process change.  


Tip 5: Continuously Improve

At the end of a successful Digital Transformation initiative, there’s a temptation to pat yourself on the back and move on.  

The Concorde Fallacy tells the story of how the British and French governments continued to fund the Concorde project for years after it became apparent there was no economic case to justify the money that had already been spent.  

The Concorde Fallacy is ripe in Digital Transformation. Too often organisations are unwilling to replace their existing technology with new technology due to the money and time invested in the old solution.  

The reality is, things change. Your requirements change. The state of the art changes. What was once the best solution may now no longer be fit for purpose. You need to be continually reviewing your ways of working and be ready and able to take it from the top.  


Successful Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation is at the top of everyone’s agenda however studies show that 70% of Digital Transformation efforts fail. The people who achieve success don’t do so by accident and, in this 15 minute webinar, Ishan Sellahewa explains what sets success apart from failure.


Managing Regional Process Variation

Many of the clients that I work with operate out of multiple national and global sites. This then naturally gives rise to the question ‘how do we deal with these geographic variations?’

I doubt I need to explain in too much detail why organisations want to get rid of their variations, there can’t be two best ways of doing something, but at the same time, we need to appreciate that variations are not always evil. There are valid reasons for variations, different regions have different rules and regulations governing how processes need to be performed, sites are set up in different ways, or customers may have different requirements just to name a few. As a result, my advice on how to deal with variations is typically three-phased:

  1. Capture the as-is and understand how your process vary
  2. Decide what you’re going to do with these variations
  3. Use change management best practises to standardise where appropriate.


Step 1: Capture your variations

As an example, imagine that I want to capture the process of how our staff catches taxis around the world. I’ll start by picking one country (often the head office), and map out how the process works there. In this case, let’s start by mapping how we catch taxis in the UK.


Capture the process

What we would do next is share this process with SMEs in our different offices and ask them if it aligns with the way they perform the process. Hopefully, their response is ‘yes, it’s identical’, however, this is rarely the case. Where we identify variation, we can’t just pretend like it doesn’t exist or simply jump straight to standardisation, we need to capture this variation so we can properly understand and assess it.

In our example, let’s say that we find that our American office said their process is the same, but our Australian office said that they perform it differently. If that’s the case, let’s apply and capture the variation.


Create process variations


What I’ve done here is specified that the process that I have already mapped is our ‘Rest of the World’ process and have now added a new variation for Australia. We have also introduced a new layer of governance. Our process has a Global Process Owner and Global Process Expert who are ultimately responsible for the performance of the process across all geographies, but now we have also introduced ‘Variation experts’ who are SMEs at the variation level.

The next part is to document the As-Is Australian process, capturing exactly how it varies from the ROW. If the Australian process is completely different from the ROW, you could build it from scratch, however in practise what we often find is that processes are similar to a point. Rather than starting from scratch then, using Nintex Process Manager, I would compare the Australian variation with the ROW and select the common elements:


Build process variations


In this case, I might start by importing all of the process items from ROW to my Australian process and then tweak them. Specifically, I am going to capture the variation that, unlike the ROW who catch Taxis, in Australia Ubers are caught (when I make the changes, the differences are clearly highlighted in Nintex Process Manager as shown below). Additionally, I’ve also added two new activities to the end to show that in Australia, once the ride has been completed, they must rate the driver and then submit an expense report.



Compare variations



Compare variations


Step 2: Understand and assess your variations

If I then toggle back to the ROW variation, you will notice that this variation hasn’t changed.


Understand and assess variations



This is important, just because the Australian process is updated shouldn’t mean that the ROW process should be updated too. This comes down to the Variation Expert of ROW (in this case me) to assess how Australia performs its process differently from the ROW and then decide if ROW needs to maintain its variations or if we should standardise.

You may notice that next to the title of the ROW process it says ‘Shared activity update’ which is telling me that one of the shared activities has been updated in another variation (as the Variation Expert I would also have received a dashboard notification).

When I edit the ROW variation, I am clearly shown what changes have been made and then I have the ability to either reject or accept them.


Accept or reject variations


In this case, I might decide that due to our UK and American insurance policies, staff are not covered if they catch an Uber, so I’m going to reject that change and maintain the variation. Equally, as we are not catching Ubers, I don’t need to rate the driver but I think submitting an expense report is a good idea, so I’ll bring that new activity over to my ROW process.



Step 3: Drive Change

Now that I’ve made the change, as the Variation Expert, it’s up to me to ensure that this new process is performed (i.e. that staff in non-Australian locations now also submit an expense report). This will be helped by Nintex Process Manager itself – as soon as I publish the change all stakeholders will receive notifications explaining the change which they need to acknowledge, but it is also up to me to monitor the situation and ensure that the lived process moves to the new version of the documented process and take corrective action where it does not.


In this case, we’ve understood our variations, standardised as much of the process as we could, but ultimately decided that we can’t standardise the entire process and some level of variation is required. This may change over time, perhaps in the future we’ll get a new insurance provider who covers Uber rides, at which point we will archive the variations and just have one ‘Catch a taxi’ process.


To summarise:

  • Don’t just jump to trying to create one variation-free process, at best this will result in a process document that is ignored, at worst it will result in processes no longer being compliant with local rules, regulations, and/ or customer expectations
  • Consider variation ownership – each variation needs to have an expert who can assess a variation and make a decision to standardise or not
  • Don’t just change your process documentation and hope that you achieve standardisation, ensure that everyone is aware that their process has changed, monitor what is happening in the real world, and take corrective action as needed
  • Appreciate that this is a moving target, as the landscape changes you may need to add/ remove variations


Taking this approach will allow you to find the balance between flexing to meet market conditions while standardising to drive efficiencies and share best practises.


In this post, I have used Nintex Process Manager as the process management tool. For more information on how it can be used to simplify variation management (or process management in general) please let me know.

Ishan Sellahewa

Digital  Transformation Business Manager   

Does Process Management Hinder Creativity?

Often, when I talk about process management and explain the benefits of having clear processes with detailed work instructions, I’ll get pushback like ‘we hire professionals to do a job, we don’t want to tell them exactly how to do it’.  

In short, the push back is on how much detail the process needs. The concern is we run the risk of turning competent professionals into robots and in doing so kill creativity.  

Process vs Creativity 

So, does process kill creativity? Potentially yes. This is something that we need to consider and, depending on the process, find balance between giving our teams discretion to bring their own flavour and personality to the way that they work on the one hand, and following standard and best practice on the other.  

As a real example, at SA Partners we are forging ahead with Digital Transformation and cross training our global consulting team to deliver these new services. As we expand, I’m asking myself how much guidance should I provide? When documenting our delivery processes, I could include scripts and recordings of how I would run a session, but doing so means that we run the risk of consultants mechanically running sessions which are not engaging or effective. But we could go too far in the other direction. The methodologies that I use have been polished over the years by myself and my predecessors with a focus on delivering the most impact to clients in the shortest amount of time – why would we not want our wider consulting team to benefit from these years of experience?   

How to make the decision 

Let’s take an example:  

Process mapped in Nintex Process Manager

This process has been kept very high level.  In Activity 3 task a, the Director of Legal is asked to ‘review and approve the contract’ without any further details provided on what this review involves and what good looks like.  

In this case, the argument can be made that as the Director of Legal, this person will have sufficient experience to complete a contract review using their professional discretion and further details are not required.  


Compare that approach with a small tweak as follows:  

Process mapped in Nintex Process Manager In this example, attached to Activity 3 task a, a work instruction has been attached explaining exactly how the contract needs to be assessed.  

There are a few benefits of this approach, specifically:  

  • Because we are leaving less to professional discretion, we can reduce risk by formalising exactly how the process is performed  
  • By making this process more mechanical we may be able to reassign the review from an experienced Director to an early-stage Associate and reduce the cost of the process while maintaining quality  
  • By formalising what good looks like, it will be easier to explain to the Sales Executive what is required for the contract to be approved, and thus reduce rework  


In making this decision, it’s no one size fits all approach. If this organisation works on a few complex seven figure contracts at any given time, it may be impossible to codify what a review involves. A highly experienced legal practitioner would use their decades of experience to perform an analysis. Conversely, if this organisation is more transactional, reviewing hundreds of low value standardised contracts, relying on expensive, experienced legal practitioners will make the process untenable. As a result, tightly defining how it’s run, and allowing it to be run by cheaper resources, is more appropriate.  


Your decision-making should include several factors:  

  • How complicated is the process? Is there significant variance between cycles?   
  • Is there a risk if the processes are not performed in a defined way? 
  • Is creativity or standardisation more important for this process?  
  • Is there a requirement (e.g., regulation) that the process must be performed by someone with certain credentials and/ or experience?  
  • Is there a cost pressure on this process for it to be tenable?  


Personally, I prefer more detail. When mapping our internal processes I will likely include recordings, instructor guides, and talking points. That way, if a consultant in Australia needs urgent support while I’m asleep, they’ll be able to easily go into our single source of truth (Nintex Process Manager) and self-serve. However, I would also pair this with a culture that encourages consultants to use their own judgement to deviate from the guidance where they feel it’s appropriate and, in doing so, hopefully achieve the best of both worlds.     


Finding this balance can be difficult so I’m happy to offer a free one-hour process conversion workshop. All you need to do is come with a process in mind and we’ll work together to create meaningful process documentation that has just the right amount of detail based on the flexibility that you require. Drop me an email at the details below and we can get something scheduled.  



Ishan Sellahewa

Digital Transformation Business Manager

+44 (0) 79263 89523


Celebrating 30 years of S A Partners

We are 30 years old and we are celebrating just how far we have come.. from our early years as a spin-out from Cardiff University’s Lean Enterprise Research Centre (LERC) our founders Peter Hines & Paul Morris founded a company that now has a global team and offices in the UK, Ireland, Germany, the USA, and Australia.


One thing that has endured over the years is a sense of camaraderie, friendship, and fun.  We asked the team for some of their best memories, which were far-reaching and included:


  • Recording the ‘Lean inspired’ Beatles covers in a studio. The evidence of which has recently been uncovered. (enjoy at your own risk)
  • Robin Jaques being interviewed for ITV for the HSBC Business Awards

  • Video filming ranked highly in people’s memories, from recording our team sharing insights into OEE – only to realise several years later that the numbers didn’t add up, Jeff Williams bloopers, and another Partner on a stepper explaining utilisation.
  • Quite a few of the team hold the annual get together in Tenby as a powerful memory, apparently, it snowed and there were a lot of other moments that can’t be mentioned here.
  • Conquering the three peaks challenge in the worst weather known to man
  • Supporting VALE in their Shingo challenge and seeing them win the Shingo Silver Medallion
  • Seeing our models and materials proudly included in the M&S Supplier Guide.
  • A Lean workshop in Llandudno with Status Quo practicing next door
  • Coaching teams without words in Clarecastle
  • Breaking an antique chair at Peter’s house – we weren’t invited back!


We were initially called the Supplier Association Partnership – our name may have changed but our purpose has remained steadfast – we exist to support organisations on their journey to excellence.


Jeff Williams recalls his early days…


“When I joined in 1999, we had 1 laptop and an overhead projector that we used for our black and white slides. I remember dropping the slides in a puddle once and all the ink running and then had to use them to present a workshop”


One common theme in everyone’s reflections is some absolutely hilarious, but mostly unprintable travel memoirs, we’d love to share – maybe we should create a new book called Travels with a Consultant!


Together, the Power to Improve has been our motto for decades. It’s who we are at heart. We love working with our customers, colleagues, associates, and partners to move the dial on our customer’s journey toward enterprise excellence.


Thanking all those that have supported us on our journey would take us another 30 years, but we will reach out and try. We are looking forward to another great thirty years of continued growth and prosperity but, most importantly, we are committed to building an organization that makes a positive impact on all those that it comes into contact with.


Looking forward to the next 30 years!

How to Sell Process Management

Driving engagement with Process Management requires more than just telling your people that they must now be process driven.

Lets consider the Prosci change management model.

This clearly demonstrates the need to manage not just the technical side of change (documenting processes), but also the people side of change to enable a transition from the current state (work is done differently every time it’s done) to our desired future state (work gets done the same way, regardless of when or by whom its done).

The Prosci model tells us that, in order to move our people from their current state to our desired future state, we need to help them pass through ‘ADKAR’ barrier points.

The first ‘A’, Awareness requires effort but is relatively straight forward. As long as you create and diligently execute a communication plan it shouldn’t be too difficult to ensure that all your stakeholders are aware of your process management initiative.

More challenging though is progressing your stakeholders through the ‘D’ for Desire barrier point. If you ask the average person what process management means to them, often the answer they give will be some version of the word ‘bureaucracy’. So, how then do you get people excited about process management?


Here are my top five reasons for how organisations and teams benefit from process management:

  1. Standardisation and Stabilisation

When work is done differently every time it’s performed, the work is going to produce inconsistent outputs. The inconsistency of these outputs will almost always result in customer complaints, and therefore employees and managers will waste time fixing problems and pacifying upset customers. This means that, for managers, much of their time is spent reactively responding to issues, and for employees, there’s frustration as they struggle to meet their targets (let alone grow) which will result in turnover. As such standardisation and stability will make everyone’s life better – employees will have more clarity on how to do their jobs in such a way that they can keep their internal and external customers happy, and managers will have more time to be forward thinking, focusing on growth and development, which will further benefit their teams. I’ve done a deep dive on the importance of standardisation in this earlier blog post.


  1. Process Improvement and Automation

When we are no longer chasing our tail fixing issues, we can dedicate time to improving the way that we work. This could mean improving our processes with the objective of further increasing the quality and consistency of their outputs, or finding ways to produce the same quality of outputs faster and with fewer resources. Doing so will lead to an even better customer experiences, but also by removing the mundane parts of our jobs we (as employees) will have more time to spend doing the work that we enjoy and on stretch projects that accelerate our development.

If you start talking about streamlining and automation people may become concerned that this initiative is about a headcount reduction which will turn them into detractors rather than supporters. Positioning is therefore particularly important here, you need to make it clear that this is not about downsizing, rather clearly state the personal benefits your team will experience from these optimisation and automation initiatives.


  1. Training and Onboarding

The way that most organisation train today still seems to revolve hoping that new starters will learn by observing the way that existing staff work. This shadow based approach results in new starters picking up the bad habits of our existing team members, forgetting a significant amount of what they are taught, as well as delaying the new starters ramp to being productive. Ultimately, it moves us further away from achieving standardisation and stability.


By taking a process driven approach to onboarding, where new starters are taught with the aid of documented processes, we are teaching new starters the correct and agreed way of working from day one. This means that they are less likely to pick up bad habits and will have access to clear process guidance while they learn the process (we generally need to perform a process +/- 10 times before we commit it to memory). This approach also free’s up our existing staff members to get on with their day jobs as new starters can self-serve rather than having to seek assistance whenever they need a reminder on how things are done.


  1. Prevent process information walking out the door

When your process are undocumented, your processes don’t belong to your organisation, they belong to the people who work in your organisation. Aside from the problems associated with needing to rely on our long standing staff to answer questions whenever anyone has a question that starts with ‘How do I do….’, any day that these people leave the organisation they’ll take this knowledge with them.

In general, we need to build a culture where our processes are seen as assets of our business; we want our people to believe that one of the reasons why we will execute on our mission is because of the quality of our processes. If this is the case, it’s critical that our processes are formally documented so our ability to execute is not reliant on key individuals remaining within the organisation.


  1. Improved Risk Management

One of the biggest problems with the way that most organisations manage risk, is that risk management a seen as the responsibility of our risk managers. What we need is a culture where everyone in the organisation believes that risk management is part of their job which, in many cases, will simply mean doing their job by following the documented processes so that they perform all necessary controls/ treatments. By taking a process driven approach to risk management we’re able to change risk management from being a theoretical exercise to one that tangibly benefits the organisation.

This is also a topic that I have previously explored in detail which you can access here.


The final piece of advice that I have for you to effectively build desire across your organisation to engage with process management, is to consider who needs to deliver this message. Messaging certainly needs to come from your Executive Sponsor who should align process management with your organisation’s mission. Your people managers then need to take this overarching vision and deliver clear, targeted messaging on how this initiative will help the team and individuals achieve their specific objectives.

Coming back to the Prosci model, organisations don’t change, individuals change, so making sure each individual is clear on how process management will impact them personally is critical for your process management initiative to stick.


Ishan Sellahewa

Digital  Transformation Business Manager   


Digital Transformation in your organisations improvement journey – FREE webinar recording

Download the full transcript here



Digital Transformation in your organisations improvement journey – FREE webinar recording

Ishan Sellahewa and Conor Dawson presented at the recent Lean Business Ireland Conference. During the presentation, they discussed how organisations can use Digital Transformation to move from a state of chaos to consistency and truly achieve business excellence

View the full webinar and transcript below

Digital Transformation in your organisations improvement journey recording

Process Management and Risk

Speaking with Risk Managers, I find that risk management is often performed in Excel.

There’ll be a ‘Risk Register’ file, where (generally) the Risk team document an exhaustive list of risks in one column, and in another column treatments/ controls for those risks. This Excel file typically lives in a SharePoint folder, is maintained by the Risk team, and provided to auditors come Audit season.

The key problem with this approach is that the process participants who are supposed to be performing these treatments/ controls have no idea that the Risk Register exists. This can also mean they have no idea that these treatments/ controls exist ). These treatment/s controls are therefore never actually performed and subsequently risk management turns into a theoretical exercise that may be sufficient for audit purposes but drives limited tangible benefits to the business.


A better approach: linking risk management with process management

If the current approach is broken, what then is the solution? Let’s start by defining a control as a step in a process that reduces the chance of an incident taking place and/ or reduces the severity if the incident does take place. The key words here are ‘a step in a process’ – your risks, controls/ treatments, and processes all need to be linked.

Let’s take an example. We identify a risk that, like all organisations, we have exposure to phishing attacks. Step one is to register this risk and the screenshot below shows how this is done in Nintex Process Manager:


There are a few things to note here: The traditional approach to risk management is that it leads to a culture where the organisation sees risk management as the responsibility of the Risk team; to be effective in risk management it’s critical that we build a culture where risk management is seen as part of everyone’s job.

In this example, I’ve assigned this risk to the Finance portfolio. The Finance Portfolio will have a named Risk Manager who comes from the Finance team.  This person has ultimate ownership and accountability for all the risks in this portfolio. Because, in a group like finance, there will be many risks, rather than having one person own all the finance risks, I have assigned a specific owner to this specific risk, we will call him Hugo. Further, to aid with the idea that risk management is part of everyone’s job, you might notice that the title that I’ve given this risk is clear and lacking any jargon – it is simply in the format of bad outcome followed by specific cause. At this stage I’ve assigned it a Likelihood and Severity which is used to calculate the inherent risk score. If a treatment/ control is already in place I can assess it, which will then calculate a residual risk score/  In many cases you will start by identifying a risk and the next stage would be to design and implement a control.


It’s now time to add a control. As I mentioned, ideally your controls should be steps in a process. So below we have documented our ‘Transfer funds to supplier’ process in Nintex Process Manager:

Currently, this is a three-activity process where, inside activity 2, the Finance Manager is asked to complete a payments checklist which will help to determine if the payment is/ is not aligned with the company policy.

While this might have been sufficient in the past, perhaps we decide that given the sophistication of today’s phishing scams, this process needs to be updated with a more robust control.


screen shot 3

And so we add a new activity (activity 3 above) where the finance manager needs to have a phone or face to face conversation with the person asking for the payment if it is over a certain value (in this case £5,000).


It’s now time to link this control with the risk that we identified as follows:


A few things to note here:

  • I’ve assigned the treatment of the risk to the specific activity in the process that was just created
  • We need to make sure that treatment is taking place and effective, to do this we need people to sign off. There are a few options here, in this case I’ve decided the best people to sign off are the swim lane participants who are supposed to be performing the treatment (Finance Managers). I’ve also decided that every Finance Manager needs to sign off that this treatment is in place and effective every 6 months.


Finally, we need to assign this treatment an effectiveness rating (in this case I’ve assigned it ‘strong’) so that we can get our Residual score.


And now everything has been linked. From my risk register in Nintex Process Manager I can see the risk, the treatment to the risk, and can easily navigate to the process that contains the treatment:


And equally, when I’m in the process, I now see a warning icon in the top right corner of Activity 3 which tells me that it’s a treatment to a risk (and therefore I should pay especially close attention) and can also show me what risk it’s treating:


In summary then, for risk management to be effective:

  • We need to have a culture where risk management is seen as part of everyone’s job, not just risk managers
  • We need to make sure that our risks, treatments, and processes are all linked
  • We need governance (from the line of business) built-in with periodic signoff requirements


If you’re interested in learning more about the risk management process that I’ve described above using Nintex Process Manager please reach out and I’ll be happy to take you through a guided example.

Ishan Sellahewa

Digital  Transformation Business Manager   

DEEP EXCELLENCE: A call to action for a new style of leadership

This book will challenge your thinking about how you lead; and how you can add value to those around you.  You will discover and explore ways in which you can bring meaning to your work and how you can engage the heads; hands and hearts to create a culture of Deep Excellence in your organization.  

Through a focus on behaviours and systems-thinking the authors take you on a journey, where they share their decades of experience supporting organisations achieve their ideal results.  They provide guidance on how to create the positive behaviours required in today’s world; and how you as a leader can create sustainable change.  

Deep Excellence is a book about people, human nature, humanity and preparing for the future. Written in a thoughtful, unpretentious, and empathetic style, the authors usher the reader through a story of learning, challenging current mental models, provoking new ways of thinking and acting with purpose.

Excerpt from Foreword by Rose Heathcote, CEO


The book combines useful ideas; insights and models which will guide and inspire the reader, to make a real difference

Lacey Garner of IRI Worldwide said

“The book comes a time when the need for sustainability in organizations is greater than ever before… The book delves into the various challenges that organizations face when improving culture and performance and offers concreate strategies for addressing them.


Marianela Alfonso of Hologic commented..

This book not only teaches us important concepts about operational excellence but also allows us to explore and learn about the importance of our behaviors, either as leaders and or any person and, what is our role as creators of culture and continuous improvement processes.


Over the last 30 years, S A PARTNERS has supported organizations on their journey to Enterprise ExcellenceWe know that improvement happens when we work together to build the capabilities and systems required to achieve a culture of deep excellence – hence our motto ‘Together, the Power to Improve’. As an organisation we provide accredited training, coaching, and specialist consultancy services.  

Simon Grogan, one of the co-authors and Managing Director of S A Partners commented:  

“After being involved in Continuous Improvement since 1993, it was great to reflect back on why great things happen. They happen because of great people, not because of great systems, fancy forms or IT systems. These great people are often not the most skilled, best paid or highest educated, they are the people who like people, people who want to see things made better, people who inspire others and have a vision of what things could look like. Raising awareness of who these people are and what skills they possess or could possess is critically important for any long term organisational – go find them, love them and look after them – they make your difference.”


This is the fifth book published by S A Partners to promote the sharing of knowledge and best practice to the wider business communityThe book will be available from AMAZON from 1 April 2023. To order your copy now follow the link below.  


I’d like to order several for my team 


What Industry Experts Have Said…

“Deep Excellence, in posing the right questions and challenges, makes for interesting, insightful, and thought-provoking reading.”

Darrin Taylor, South East Technological University, Ireland


“This book delivers a rare view of “the dark side of the moon”, a view which it’s readers can use to guide their own journey to the stars.”

Simon Leonard, LGC


“Every leader needs to spend some time in this thoughtfully curated work to learn how to engage more our ourselvesmind, heart and spirit!  Then we will be armed with the ability to lead our teams, organizations and societies effectively through sustainable transformational change.” 

Joanna Cooper, Daimler


From someone who has read a lot of academic literature over the years, Deep Excellence is by far the most intuitive book I have read… helping me understand the link between head, heart and hands in a corporate results-based environment and where priorities must start for ideal results

Elizabeth O’Callaghan, University of Limerick

About The Authors

John Quirke

John Quirke originally graduated from the National University of Ireland Maynooth with an honour’s degree in Chemistry and Biology. John subsequently completed a master’s degree in chemical oceanography with University College Galway. A specialisation in metal chemistry led John to an early career as a chemical process engineer with Fujitsu Isotec, where he spent time in Japan studying Japanese manufacturing and engineering techniques. John’s knowledge of process chemistry and toxicology resulted in a move to safety and environmental management with a blue-chip life science corporation. John’s frustration with poor equipment design and poor process performance resulted in the early adoption of lean thinking within this organisation. The success of subsequent programmes, giving rise to improvements in process performance and waste reduction, led to global roles as director of business excellence and twenty-five years continuous improvement experience working across all business sectors.  In 2019 along with his colleagues Peter Willmott, and Andy Brunskill John published TPM a Foundation of Operational Excellence.  The publication won the Shingo Institutes’ international publication research award in 2022. John is a senior partner at S A Partners and leads the Global Life Science and Health sector. John supports the development and publication of thought leadership within the business.  John’s other specialist areas include coaching and lean leadership, strategy deployment, process design for lean, and problem-solving. John is a certified Shingo Institute Facilitator and a Master Lean Coach from Cardiff University. In addition to BSc (Hons) and MSc, John holds a Law Degree from University College Cork. 


Simon Grogan

Simon Grogan has dyspraxia, which means whilst being particularly bad at any sport that requires co-ordination, he is clumsy, falls over, gets lost a lot, can be frustrated easily, and worst of all finds reading and writing very difficult. Growing up in the nineteen seventies Simon’s dyspraxia was never diagnosed – he was treated as a kid who was just a bit thick. Out of sheer bloody-mindedness, Simon learnt to cope with his dyspraxia and managed to bundle his way through his education. Work has been much easier, systems, numbers, processes, and deadlines all help, they provide structure and help him think. As his career progressed Simon became successful occupying various senior management positions and winning various best factory awards. In the year two thousand two crazy things happened in Simon’s life the first was the birth of his daughter Molly, and the second was joining S A Partners. Both have taught him so much about people and helped him try to bring the best version of himself to work each day. Today he is the Managing Director and Chairman of S A Partners. If someone told the embarrassed eight-year-old boy, as his teacher tore up his English homework in front of the class, that one day he would be he would be a joint author of a book he would never have believed them. 



Juliette Packham graduated from Coventry University with an honours degree in Industrial Product Design. After a short time as a Design Engineer, Juliette was appointed to a major Business Lean Transformation Project. Here she grew her Lean thinking skills in Operations, Logistics and Warehousing where she quickly realised problems within these areas often stemmed from a poor approach to New Product Introduction. Observations of the lack of systemic thinking during this time also helped pique her interest in leadership behaviours and managing change. Juliette went on to head up an Engineering Department and spent time working on systemic transformation by integrating teams across the business to reduce lead times and improve connectivity. Since joining S A Partners in 2004, Juliette has built on her passion for Leadership Development and Culture Change and supports a wide range of companies in different sectors as both a consultant, coach, and mentor. She is the Global People Director and a Partner within the business, a Master practitioner in SoundWave and VoicePrint, an EMCC accredited Senior Coach/Mentor and is working towards a Diploma in Behavioural Science. Her passion for New Product Development systems continues, and she also spends much of her time working in Strategy Deployment, Tier Management Systems, and with Leaders working on Organisational Culture Change. 


Bryan Cutliff

Before joining S A Partners, Bryan served as a Chief Executive Officer in small to medium-sized businesses, specifically within the healthcare industry. During this time, he promoted the importance of creating value for customers, employees, and stakeholders by focusing business resources and efforts on enhancing organizational engagement. Bryan specializes in helping organizations leverage their strategic vision and use communication models to improve the safety and quality of the services rendered, deliver an exceptional customer experience, deepen relationships with employees, and achieve operational objectives. Bryan’s expertise also includes organizational assessment, leadership development, personal and team development and coaching, conflict management and resolution, business negotiations, program facilitation, and change management. Within these areas, Bryan has worked with front-line employees, regional, and national executives to cascade the organization’s purpose while improving the quality and safety metrics throughout enterprises in which he served. Bryan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication from Utah State University, Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Health Administration from The University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a Doctor of Psychology in Leadership Psychology from William James College. 



Phone (44) 783 222 3453 

Process Management and Agile

Periodically when talking about process management, I’ll be told ’process management isn’t for us, we’re agile’.  Is agile a fair excuse to avoid process management? Short answer, in my opinion, absolutely not; in fact an agile environment makes process management more important if anything.

Here’s why.


Agile and the Agile Trap

First, let’s start by defining agile. Whilst agile originated from software development, it’s since become synonymous with continuous improvement following the Japanese concept of Kaizen, which means to make small incremental improvements continuously. The idea is that we should always be looking at the way that we work and seeking to improve rather than blindly performing old, ingrained processes.

It is easy to see why people categorize agile and process management as two competing ideologies, with the former focusing on change and growth, whilst the latter prioritises stability.

Let’s consider the SA Partners Improvement Journey:



SA Partners Improvement Journey


When you are in the reactive phase, you’re likely to be experiencing:

  • Inconsistency in the way that work is performed, depending on who is doing the work and/ or when the work is being done
  • Inconsistency in the outputs that are produced by your processes, resulting in a highly variable customer experience
  • Significant management time spent responding to, and resolving problems

And this can be the agile trap – if you adopt an uncontrolled, ungoverned approach to continuous improvement you run the risk of trapping yourself in the reactive phase with process participants given license to perform their work differently every time they do it and call it agile.

Process Management

How then does process management come in to save the day? Simply put, it means that we are fostering an environment of continuous improvement, however tying governance around it.

This starts with standardisation. Whilst it may seem counter-intuitive, for us to improve we need to start from a platform of stability so that we are all trying to improve the same process (see my earlier post where I explore the idea of standardisation in more detail).  Once we’ve achieved stability, we’re ready to start thinking about improvement. While yes, we want everyone in the organisation to be empowered to drive change, it’s critical that processes have clearly defined ownership so that whilst anyone can suggest a change, it is the process owner who makes the decision to adopt the change and deviate from the agreed, ‘stablised’ process.

To make this happen, every process needs to have a clear process owner and expert as can be seen in the screenshot below where the process has been captured in Nintex Process Manager and Julien and Madlyn have been named as the Process Owner and Expert.



Process Ownership


Once this ownership has been defined, anyone should be able to leave feedback on the process to suggest a change, but this feedback needs to be funneled to our process owner and expert to assess the feedback and decide what action, if any, will be taken. An example of this can be seen below in the screenshot where I’ve left feedback on the process which has gone to Julien who has provided his response.


Process feedback


The benefits of tying governance around improvement are:

  • Process owners are in a position where they can see the bigger picture; while something may appear to be an obvious improvement to us as process participants, it may cause issues down and up stream.
  • There is control over the path forward, are we okay to go ahead and implement the idea? Do we need to pilot the idea in a controlled environment? Does the idea need to be parked for now?
  • While a process participant may make a suggestion, it could be a band-aid fix. The value of the suggestion is often not the proposed fix itself, rather a flag to the process owner that there is a problem that requires root cause analysis.
  • If we, the process participant, do indeed have a valuable improvement suggestion, this approach will mean that it’s more likely to stick – it shouldn’t just be us that changes the way we work, everyone should adopt the new and improved process (which should then become the starting point for future improvement)

In summary then, process management and agile shouldn’t be seen as competing ideologies rather process management will help you to be agile and drive effective, meaningful change.

Ishan Sellahewa

Digital  Transformation Business Manager   


Resourcing For Successful Process Management

Process Management: The Ikea Approach 


What does Ikea and Process Management have in common?  


The decentralisation of the build phase. One way in which Ikea is able to offer furniture at a price point below its competition is that, unlike its competitors who pay labourers to assemble their furniture, Ikea makes use of free labour (i.e. you).  


Similarly, many process management initiatives adopt a decentralised build approach where Process Owners within the line of business are asked to map their own processes. This is not necessarily a bad choice as it can result in better adoption – in the same way, that we are more likely to maintain and hang onto furniture that we assembled with our own hands, we may be more likely to use, enforce, and maintain processes that we mapped out ourselves. The problem however comes when organisations simply assume that if we ask the business to map their own processes it will get done. So, in this post, I’d like to explore how to resource your process management build phase to ensure success.  


  1. Consider your scope and estimate your resource requirements  

Before you start, you need to understand what you’re trying to achieve and how fast you want to achieve it. You may, for example, say that the scope of this initiative is to map out all of your organisation’s processes within the year, or perhaps it’s to map out 70% of your sales, finance, and HR processes within the next 18 months. Once you know what you’d like to achieve, you need to estimate what resources are required to achieve these objectives.  


2. Secure your resources  

Often, an Executive Sponsor driving a process management initiative will make the decision that a decentralised approach to the build phase will be taken, and then it is left to a Project Manager to make it happen. This approach not only assumes that the line of business has enough capacity to absorb this additional workload, but also they are happy to assign this excess capacity to mapping processes (spoiler alert, in the real world neither of these assumptions hold true).   

Clearly, its not enough for your Executive Sponsor to make a decision to decentralise rather, once they have decided that decentralisation is the most appropriate approach, they then need to go and secure the resources. This will involve selling the benefits of Process Management to the wider business and winning the hearts and minds of the people managers who own the time of your process owners and experts. Ideally, the work shouldn’t stop here, to maximise your chances of success, the next step is to secure these resources by updating the performance targets and objectives of the process owners to include their process management expectations (e.g. in Q2 you will spend 5 days on process management and will map out the Accounts Payable processes) . At the end of the day, we spend our time on the activities against which we are measured; given that most people have more objectives than they have time, side projects invariably get forgotten (or at best deprioritised) so it’s critical that process management is a defined objective, not just something on the side.  

If done correctly, you will now have a reasonably accurate understanding of the mapping resources at your disposal.  


3. Align your resources with your scope  

Once you have identified how much mapping resources you have available, you should compare this with the resources required to achieve your objectives. If the numbers align, you’re good to go, if not, you have a few different options:  

  • Go back to the line of business and ask for more resources  
  • Move to a more centralised approach by either building a central team in-house or engaging consultants to provide external resources  
  • Narrow the scope of the initiative by mapping fewer groups, or fewer processes per group within the original timeframe 
  • Extend the timeframe so that you achieve your original scope, but do so over a longer period of time  
  • Reduce the quality expectations (e.g. only identify the requirement for Work Instructions rather than creating and attaching them) to reduce the amount of time required per process such that you can achieve your original scope within your original timeframe  


Returning to the Ikea metaphor, if we find ourselves with one weekend to build all of the furniture for our new house in addition to our regular weekend activities, we can choose to either involve more members of our family to assist with the assembly, agree that this weekend we will prioritise just the bedroom furniture and tackle the rest of the house over the coming weeks, or just get an army of air-taskers in to assemble everything for us.  


Ultimately, you need to end up in a situation where the numbers balance between the resources required, and the resources available.  


One of the biggest reasons why organisations fail to achieve their process management goals is that they assume that the business will drop everything to give you mapping resources and therefore never get out of the build phase. My message here is to be realistic – understand what you need, what you have, and, if the two don’t align, work out how you are going to balance the equation.   

Ishan Sellahewa

Digital  Transformation Business Manager   


Case Study: Launching a multi-site Lean Programme in the Utilities Sector

Over the last five years, we have been supporting one of Europe’s largest utility companies to implement a multi-site/organisation-wide Lean programme. This paper shares how this organisation built both Leadership and Lean Capability throughout their organisation, as well as how the transformation programme has continued to deliver a return on investment.

Making a Sustainable Impact Full Recording & Transcript

During this webinar, Dr. Bryan Cutliff & Dr. Jeff Radford share their personal experiences, ideas, and techniques that have helped them, and a number of organizations overcome organizational and personal adversity while leading national institutions. We will discuss how to build a sustainable culture of excellence, and the need to stay true to your purpose amid organizational trials and challenges. Join us to discover how you can make a sustainable impact, re-attach yourself to your purpose, and support your workforce in doing the same.

Making A Sustainable Impact – Full Recording & Transcript

Process Standardisation and Stabilisation

When embarking on an improvement journey, organisations too often give into temptation and jump directly to process improvement, either by designing a new, optimised, Lean process, or attempting to immediately create a digitised, automated version of their existing manual process.  

While this approach of skipping ahead to your desired future state may seem like the best way to fast-track your improvement journey, more often than not it will result in the delivery of solutions that either miss the mark entirely or even exponentially increase your existing process problems.  

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”- Bill Gates 


SA Partners Improvement Journey


Using the SA Partners Improvement Journey pictured above, if you find yourself in the ‘Reactive’ phase, you are likely to be experiencing:

  • Inconsistency in the way that work is performed, depending on who is doing the work and/ or when the work is being done
  • Inconsistency in the outputs that are produced by your processes, resulting in a highly variable customer experience
  • Significant management time spent responding to and resolving problems
  • High rates of turnover with employees feeling like they are unable to achieve their assigned KPIs, and having no internal growth and learning opportunities

At this stage of your improvement journey, your focus should not be on improvement itself, but rather on achieving a state of stability where work is done in a standardised way regardless of when, where, or by whom the work is performed.

Achieving this level of standardisation will not only ensure that your processes produce consistent outputs, but will also lay the foundations for you to do proper root-cause analysis of process problems, and therefore ensure that future optimisation and automation projects deliver meaningful results.

The question then becomes, how can we get out of the red ‘squiggly’ line and achieve stability?


  1. Identify your processes

Step one is to simply identify your processes. Another common mistake I see organisations make is to jump straight into talking about the details of how their processes operate without giving enough consideration to what their processes are to begin with. An example here might be a sales team talking through their processes starting with how they qualify leads provided to them by marketing. Separately the marketing team may discuss their process ending with how they qualify leads before passing them over to sales. All of a sudden leads are qualified twice which is not only waste but also a cause of frustration to your prospective clients.

Before getting into the details then, you should run a scoping exercise where you identify your process groups, the boundaries of these process groups, and finally the processes inside these groups along with their boundaries. If we consider a process hierarchy, at this stage we are trying to define levels zero, one and two.


Process Hierarchy



2. Capture your As-Is processes

Now that we know what our processes are, we are ready to capture the As-Is (levels three, four, and five). The process capture sessions shouldn’t be performed by a process owner in isolation, rather a workshop should be held with a collection of SMEs so that what is captured represents what takes place in the real world, not what the manager thinks takes place. Determining who should attend this workshop is a critical decision, on the one hand, you don’t want to get into a position where you are stuck because no one in the room knows what happens next, but at the same time if you invite every man and his dog you’re going to go round and round in circles trying to come to an agreement. The approach that I take is inventing the absolute minimum number of people that will allow us to get something done and out the door.


When running these workshops there should be a number of ‘house rules’ – the following are the rules that I like to enforce:

  1. Spelling doesn’t matter
  2. All must contribute & be present
  3. No hierarchy + Vegas rules
  4. Start with the As-Is
  5. Stay on topic and use the parking lot
  6. Progress, not perfection. ELMO! (Enough, let’s move on)


During these capture sessions, it’s easy to get caught in the weeds and go round and round in circles trying to agree on exactly how a process is exactly performed or chasing each other down rabbit holes.  When facilitating these workshops I always focus on getting things done and set the bar as ‘Can we all live with this’ rather than ‘Is this right?’ with an understanding that we are just mapping version 1, which will be iterated over time.

Consideration should also be given to how you run these workshops and a consistent approach should be taken (i.e., every workshop should be run in the same way every time using the same templates). I prefer Miro, where I’ve developed the following capture template:


Process Mapping Template


I find that this template allows me to capture all the information that’s needed, and do so in a way where I can keep the group focused.

Importantly, during this workshop process ownership needs to be assigned. Who is going to be the Process Owner? Who is going to be the Process Expert? It will be these two people that will be responsible for making sure that the documented process becomes the lived process, as well as maintaining and updating the process moving forward. This decision is often the difference between process management being a theoretical exercise and getting us out of the red squiggly line.


3. Map and Share your As-Is Process

Whatever tool you decide to use for your process capture workshop is simply that, a tool for the process capture workshop. You need to quickly take the output of these workshops and document your processes in a proper process management solution.

SA Partners have been involved in Process Management projects since our inception 30 years ago, and over that time we’ve used almost every major process mapping tool in the market. After extensive research and experience, we’ve identified Nintex’s Process Management tool as our tool of choice, and is what we recommend to our clients.


Process Manager Process


Once your process has been documented in your process management solution, it should be shared with the workshop attendees and other key SMEs. This is something that I like to be timebound, I will say ‘here is a link to the process that we captured during our workshop, please review and leave any feedback by next Friday (March 24th) at which point I will submit it for approval’. This approach allows everyone to have a say without slowing us down if people get lazy.

This process is made very easy with Nintex Process Manager where a shareable link can be created allowing SMEs to interact with the process and leave feedback if needed (have a go yourself here).


4. Approve and Publish your Process

Once the relevant SMEs have provided their feedback (or have not raised any objections) it’s time to get the process out the door. While this stage might seem obvious, I find clients often struggle. Once they have captured something they want to hold onto the process and keep polishing it until it’s perfect before they release it. The problem is that the only way that you will achieve standardisation is if your process participants are actually given the process that you want them to follow; as such my recommendation is to get the process published ASAP.

There should, of course, be checks and balances, again if you use Nintex Process Manager this is all automated where the required process approvers will have to formally approve the new or changed process (all captured in the change log) and then have it published by an administrator.



5. Standardise and Stabalise

All we’ve done so far is come to an agreement on the current state process which we now need to operationalise. This starts with letting our process participants know that there is a new or changed process that’s relevant to them. Again Nintex Process Manager will automate this by issuing notifications to all relevant stakeholders:


Change Notification


If it is an existing process that is changed, we also need to make sure that process stakeholders are crystal clear on what specifically has changed. In the example below, by comparing the new version with the previously published version, I can see that the Manager no longer needs to reply to the applicant as this is now automated by the Workday system:


Change Description



Once our SMEs know that a change has taken place, and what specifically has changed, they should acknowledge the change to commit to changing the way that they work:


Change acknowledgement



6. Monitor and Enforce

Shortly after a new or changed process is published (appx two weeks) process owners should review reports to see who has/ has not acknowledged the change, and for those who have not, reach out to them to make sure that it gets done and they are fully committed to performing the process as it has been documented.


Change Report



It is also the responsibility of process owners and experts to monitor what is happening in the real world and ensure that the lived process is the documented process. Where there is a discrepancy it’s up to them to bring alignment which may involve using change management to bring process participants to the documented process, or updating and iterating the documented process so that it aligns with what is happening in the real world (prior to considering any desired future state).

My key message here is to not ignore the importance of standardisation and stabilisation. Not only will this provide the platform to make a meaningful improvement in the future, just the simple act of achieving standardisation and stability will deliver substantial benefits in and of itself.


Ishan Sellahewa

Digital Transformation Business Manager


From Control to Collaboration- Full Recording

From Control to Collaboration – discover the new era of Digital Process Management Full Recording

Join Ishan Sellahewa & Jack Worboys for a look into how digital process management platforms can help organisations improve by creating clear and sophisticated process maps, real-time feedback & collaboration, optimizing processes; eliminating and removing waste and bottlenecks; driving standardization and continuous improvement; and encouraging collaboration.

We are all aware of the benefits of process mapping in relation to:

  • Visualising process flow
  • Identifying improvements and efficiencies
  • Understanding interactions and handoffs
  • Managing systems of work
  • Problem solving
  • Governance

During the webinar we share how deploying a digital solution could revolutionise your process mapping and support you on your journey to Enterprise Excellence.

View the full webinar and transcript below

From Control to Collaboration Full Download and Transcript

Case Study: Develpoment of a Lean Academy in a Global Corporation

Our client was a global corporation with a head office in the USA. It supplies products to customers in 135 countries and employs over 12,000 employees worldwide generating revenue of over US $2 billion. Although successful, the business recognized significant opportunities for improvement back in 2020, aspiring to develop their own version of the Toyota Production System. They believed this would improve customer satisfaction and operational efficiency through the development and engagement of the workforce.

White Paper: Packaging Changeovers in Pharmaceutical Sector


Check out our latest white paper on Packaging Changeovers in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Over the last twenty-five years, pharmaceutical companies and packaging operations have struggled to respond quickly to market demand. Added to this, operational inefficiencies; the increase in the number and complexity of product configurations; and the ongoing demand for compliance has made it a challenge to maintain stable asset performance.

In this white paper, industry expert and author Andy Brunskill considers how a systematic approach to TPM can support manufacturing and packaging companies deliver sustainable improvement.

Download from the button above

Embracing Continuous Improvement in HR – Video and Transcript

View the full webinar and transcript of our recent webinar featuring Sharon Von Simson “Embracing Continuous Improvement in HR”

Embracing CI in HR Download

Embracing Continuous Improvement in HR – Full Recording with Transcript

S A Partners Named a Winner in 2022 Nintex Partner Awards

London, UK—September 28, 2022— S A Partners is pleased to announce it has been recognized as a Regional Spotlight Award winner of the 2022 Nintex Partner Awards.

S A Partners was recognized for its proven ability to help organizations accelerate digital transformation and drive business outcomes with the powerful and easy-to-use capabilities of the Nintex Process Platform.

“We’re proud to recognize S A Partners as a winner of the 2022 Nintex Partner Awards,” said Nintex CEO Eric Johnson. “Organizations across every industry and region rely on Nintex Partners, like S A Partners, to help accelerate digital transformation and solve process challenges with the Nintex Process Platform.”

“We are absolutely delighted to be recognized by Nintex in the 2022 Nintex Partner Awards; our partnership has enhanced the support we can offer our clients on their journey towards excellence.  We look forward to continuing to invest in our relationship with Nintex, and to a healthy and collaborative future where our clients and our own people tap into the amazing potentials of Nintex platforms” said Keivan Zokaei, Partner at S A Partners LLP.

To learn more about S A Partners’ partnership with Nintex, visit:

Media Contact

Ailsa Carson

Partner; Group Marketing Manager

P: +44 (0) 783 222 3453


About S A Partners

For over 30 years S A Partners has supported companies develop their continuous improvement capability through a combination of systems excellence consulting and bespoke Leadership and CI training programmes.  S A Partners is widely recognized for their exceptional people and behavioural based solutions that deliver sustainable results, productivity improvements, and employee engagement.

Visit our website

A Time To Celebrate

A Time to Celebrate  

In May 2022 the SHINGO Institute recognized our team with a coveted SHINGO Publication Award for our book – TPM: A foundation of Operational Excellence.   

The team behind the book, the authors Peter Willmott, Andy Brunskill, and John Quirke along with Alex Everitt our graphic designer,  were able to finally meet to celebrate this momentous achievement at a lunch in Bath, UK.

It was a great chance for the team to reflect on their publication journey and its success.  The book has been widely acclaimed by industry experts for its practical guidance; detailed case studies and a model that will drive both asset optimization but also employee engagement.  

Total Productive Manufacturing is an established approach to asset optimization that supports operational excellence, reduces waste, and improves employee engagement.  It also has a well-documented impact on health and safety rates. 

What sets this book apart is the focus on how to engage all employees in the Total Productive Manufacturing cycle of improvement, not just the maintenance team or engineering.  It is a foundational business system that should be at the heart of every organisation as it provides the reliability and stability required for successful and profitable value-adding performance. 

Praise from reviewers has been unanimous: 

“This book will become a reference on how it should be done.  A paradigm shift to
Total Productive Manufacturing that is long overdue.”Greg Julich, Director Global Reliability, Pfizer Inc, USA

“I know of no other publication on TPM that comes close to the scope, detail and practical
utility of this book, that is likely to become THE standard text on the topic.”John Bicheno, Prof. of Lean Enterprise, University of Buckingham, UK 


“The book provides a road map for success with practical guidance and first-hand
case studies that help bring the model to life.”Michael Hempton, Moy Park, UK 


The team were both grateful and delighted to finally be able to celebrate in person as it’s been a long but rewarding journey.  They would like to thank the members of The SHINGO Institute for the honour bestowed upon them.  

The book is available from Amazon HERE

You can also download our quick guide to the TPM 11-Step Model HERE

For more information contact:  

Jeff Williams supports Fareshare on their journey to Enterprise Excellence

As part of our Care Programme, we provide both financial and in-kind support to charities around the world.  Jeff Williams, our Director of Business Development was delighted to spend a day with the team at one of our much-loved charities Fareshare to support them with business improvement and their journey to Enterprise Excellence.   


FareShare redistributes quality surplus foods from across the food industry to over 9500 frontline charities and community groups. It is made up of 18 independent organisations.  These charities support school breakfast clubs, older people’s lunch clubs, homeless shelters, and community cafés.  Every week they provide enough food to create almost a million meals for the most vulnerable people in the UK.  


Andy Parkinson, Head of Food & Operations at FareShare Midlands said: 

Many thanks to Jeff Williams of S A Partners for spending the day with us all at Fareshare Midlands depot in Nottingham. Jeff shared with us the popular and successful ‘Enterprise Excellence Approach’ that S A Partners have implemented in the UK food industry and other sectors around the world, and brought it to life for us in the context of the work we do in the food industry. It was great to see how this model has been successfully implemented in numerous food manufacturers and retailers through the coaching and development of people by Jeff and his colleagues at S A Partners.  


I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jeff in various previous organisations, and his enthusiasm and ‘story-telling’ has not diminished over the years! We look forward to embarking on our own journey here at FareShare in the Midlands, and are delighted that Jeff has offered his support voluntarily as a guide and ‘wise owl’!   


If you would like to find out more about how we may be able to support you or the charities you work with please do contact:

+44 (0) 783 222 3453

Celebrating Ideal Behaviours

Every July we recognize some of our amazing team for their contribution to the business.  This annual award is given each July and builds on our monthly reward and recognition program. Both of the programs are designed to recognize those individuals that go above and beyond in demonstrating our core values and the behaviours we believe in.

This year we are delighted to recognize these amazing colleagues:

Juliette Packham

Juliette always supports her colleagues and helps people whenever she can.  She has coached and supported people across the business – often in her own time at evenings and weekends.  This year she has set up our monthly training days and improved our performance management process.  Juliette continues to play an active role in the partnership, and she is committed to helping every person in the business become the best version of themselves.

Megan James

Megan James

Megan has made an incredible impact on our ability to rebuild the European sales pipeline and has also enabled us to improve our global sales system.  She is regularly acknowledged by her colleagues for the support she provides everyone in the business not just in the area of lead generation.  Her management of the sales process has helped us improve our bid writing, tenders, and proposals.  She volunteers regularly to support events and has taken an active role to support Jeff and Garry with Business Development.

John Quirke

John Quirke

John is John, you don’t get many! He is creative, supportive, and sensitive. John consistently demonstrates ideal behaviours – he is thoughtful, respectful, and leads with humility. He does his own thing in his own way but we are very lucky he is part of our team.  He has brought us the Life Science Sector which has been the backbone of our success over the past 5 years.  He is well respected in the SHINGO circles as both a workshop facilitator and now a published author.  John continues to stretch and challenge us with his thinking and thought leadership.

Richard Lynch

Richard has led the development of our operations system –  ensuring everyone works at the optimum and we maximise profitability from the work we win. In addition to this, he has been responsible for landing and resourcing the biggest account in S A Partners history most of which is delivered globally in German. Whilst doing all this he has done some great work coaching Mark Fillingham, Donna Samuel, and Garry Corbet enabling the team to maximise their potential.  Richard has played a pivotal role in the Leadership Team helping us to transform S A Partners into the business we are all proud of today.

Jim Mikulski

Jim has taken on a very complex training assignment with one of our multi-national life sciences clients – running cohorts in the USA, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Whilst it’s been a massive learning curve he has always remained positive and supportive with both his customer and colleagues. Jim has supported the growth of the US business and he consistently demonstrates ideal behaviours – which makes us proud to call him one of our colleagues.

Keivan Zokaei

Keivan cannot sit still, he is always looking for different ways to do things and different ways to be successful, he is full of ideas. He has brought us a new Route to Market partner and is continually challenging our “nice guys without ties” image and making us think about the future. His ambitions help us all to think differently, but his heart beats S A Partners. He believes in his “brothers and sisters” and wants us all to succeed.

Thank you for all that you do for our company, and the support you provide to our global team.


Simon Grogan

Managing Director

S A Partners

Why Do An Assessment?

Enterprise Excellence is the goal for most, however so few organsitions achieve it, and even fewer sustain it. Having worked with many organsiations over the years on this journey I know it is rarely a simple journey, or one that can be copied from others. It’s not something a leader can impose, or build on their own as it’s not just about deploying systems and processes, it is about how people think, act and behave. 

With the right approach and the right leadership, it’s a journey that is possible. However, the journey there can look very different from one organisation to the next, and navigating your way towards “world-class” can often feel overwhelming.  

It doesn’t need to be… 

Step one on the journey is to truly understand your ‘Ideal Future State’, to do this ask yourself a number of questions: 

  • What does good look like? 
  • What does “Excellence” mean for us as an organisation? 
  • What will you hear, see and feel when you get there? 
  • What do the Ideal Behaviours look and feel like? 

To do this effectively it is worth considering using SHINGO as a framework as the model and philosophy focus on how to create the most effective systems that will in turn drive the right behaviours enabling you to achieve your ideal results.  The Shingo Discover Excellence course, or Introduction to Shingo can be really valuable as a starting point. 

Understanding the Gap 

After you understand where you are going it’s necessary to get a clear picture of where you are now, so you can determine the gap.  Ask the following questions: 

  • What is your current level of Enterprise Excellence maturity? 
  • What are your strengths? 
  • What are your weaknesses (your opportunities for improvement) 
  • Do your systems enable or disable the right behaviours? 
  • Do the Leadership and Engagement Systems support Continuous Improvement? 

An Enterprise Excellence assessment can provide you with this insight. This assessment delves deeply into all aspects of your organisation – it’s systems, processes, and behaviours. We use an assessment aligned to both SHINGO and our own Enterprise Excellence Model. 

Identifying your Roadmap  

Once you’ve established where you are, and where you want to go then a clear roadmap can be created to get you there. It’s this roadmap that then acts as a map that helps you navigate the journey from A-B and an assessment is a waste of time unless you translate this into a plan of improvement. It’s only then that you can start to bring an Enterprise Excellence journey to life for your organisation. 

At S A Partners, we have supported countless organisations on this journey.   

To find out what this could look like for you, don’t hesitate to contact me:  

You may also find the following resources useful: 

Embracing Sustainability

The drive for sustainability is a guiding principle of many organisations, not simply because it makes sound financial sense. Embracing sustainability is not only about manufacturing/producing, or supplying in a sustainable manner but also about the long-term future of the organisation which will be achieved through taking a holistic view of the operation from a resources, people, environmental and financial perspective.

We often focus solely on the financial return of improvement programmes and this is an important factor. Poor performing machinery, under-utilisation and breakdowns all contribute to higher energy utilisation, waste and cost. These are the visible wastes and those that we can address pro-actively. But as this current heatwave reminds us, we have a duty to the global community in which we live to consider our impact on the environment and our communities.

Zokaei, Hines et al in an article published in the Sloane Review (2014) looked at the approach taken to sustainability by Toyota through Monozukuri.

What Is Monozukuri?

The Japanese word monozukuri has a literal meaning of “production” — “mono” is the thing that is made or created, and “zukuri” refers to the act of making. Monozukuri, however, has meanings beyond the literal; it can be best compared to the word “craftsmanship” in English, which describes the making of an object with particular skill, care, or artistry.

There is, however, a difference between the two concepts: “craftsmanship” emphasizes the skill and attentiveness of the maker, whereas monozukuri focuses more on the qualities of the object being made and less on the qualities of the person making it. This subtle difference reflects the Japanese sense of responsibility for the inherent value of the materials of production and their deep respect for the world around them, both animate and inanimate.

In the Japanese tradition of monozukuri, the craftsman takes great care using resources so as not to be wasteful or futile. When an item or human effort is taken into use, there needs to be a benefit for the society in the result — while, at the same time, the balance between production, resources and the society should be maintained.

Monozukuri, therefore, is manufacturing that is in harmony with nature — one that adds value for the society. You could even say monozukuri is the older sister of the concept of sustainable manufacturing.

Using these principles we can start to consider and simplify our approach to create a system within our organizations that not only supports and drives sustainability but is continuously improving and evolving as new knowledge and resources emerge – such as the growth in digitalization and automation which has both improved and hindered companies sustainability agendas.


From Reactive to Proactive Strategies

In the book Creating a Lean & Green Business System (2013), Zokaei et al used the following diagram to describe the likely impact of different strategies on carbon reduction:

Taking this we can evolve this thinking towards the wider topic of sustainability and define our Proactive and Reactive strategies in relation to sustainability and identify their likely impact.

The New Nature of Business

Our colleague, John Quirke has been championing sustainability both within our organisation and within the clients he supports, and he talks about ‘The New Nature of Business’ and what this means. The new nature of business focuses on ensuring that every aspect of an organization’s activity considers sustainability, and that sustainability can not exist as an isolated system. In his new book due for release this autumn “DEEP EXCELLENCE”, John describes how low productivity and performance has such a dire impact on our environment and planet. That we owe it not just to our employees and shareholders to be more efficient, but to the world in which we live.

Using the S A Partners Enterprise Excellence Model sustainability can be considered in terms of:

  • Purpose – is your organisation aligned to a sustainable future through your desired future state. This would also incorporate profitability

  • People – ensure your organisation is acting sustainably in relation to its employees – through training; succession planning and support.
  • Process – understand how your products and the way you work impacts the environment and the sustainability of our operations (resource utilization etc.)


First steps toward a better future:

We are frequently asked by organizations where to begin. Our advice is to keep it simple and align any activity to your Enterprise Excellence or Continuous Improvement Journey.

The following five steps can be driven by you and your team, or supported by S A Partners:

  1. Benchmark & Assess your current state
  2. Develop an Improvement Roadmap / Sustainability System
  3. Focus on Engaging your People & your Suppliers
  4. Implement Improvement Plans
  5. Review and Improve

For more information on how we can support you please contact



Zokeai et al “Creating a Lean and Green Business System” (2013), CRC Press

Systems – The Architecture of Deep Excellence and Sustainability

“In spite of the fact that management is responsible for the system, or for lack of the system, I find in my experience that few people in industry know what constitutes a system.” W Edward Deming


If you want to learn something new read an old book, said a wise man once.

It is scary and often depressing to realise how true this statement is. When we read about the contributions by Deming in the eighties and nineties, to true quality and productivity effectiveness, one can only wonder – what if? What if every organisation really grasped what Deming was putting forward in relation to quality output and people’s engagement with the work that they do? How much more efficient, effective, and harmonious could workplaces be today?

It is incredible to think that there are organizations today running processes at efficiency levels below fifteen percent! This low level of performance can only be maintained by the exorbitant profits achievable within certain sectors. One can only wonder how much more benefit could be brought to civilisation if they could run their businesses at say sixty or even eighty percent efficiency? How much waste would be prevented? How much energy could be saved? Is the acceptance of these low levels of efficiency a vestige of some deep tribal element of our stone age brain that might be holding us back for such noble and altruistic types of thinking? As long as our tribe is doing OK, that’s all that matters.

Given the challenges we now face in relation to climate change and the loss of biodiversity this stone age thinking is no longer acceptable. We need to find better ways to review, manage and improve the way our businesses work, both internally and externally.

This wider integrated approach can only be achieved through a systems-based philosophy focused on the way organisations are designed, managed and constantly improved. However, as we will explain in another article, it is far more than an awareness of individual system structure. The true power of a systems-based philosophy is the integration between business systems and how that integration is constantly improved.

If we use the analogy of our neural network to describe how the various systems integrate. The optic nerve controls the eye. The vagus nerve the stomach, the various nerves that sense touch, taste, heat. None of these systems can work alone. They integrate with other important systems, our muscles our digestive system, our brain through key junction points, called nodes.

If we were to map key systems in our business, how we generate sales, how we make stuff, how we design new stuff, how we develop appropriate skills, how we maintain and improve our critical assets, how we constantly improve the performance and quality of our processes, where would the nodes connect?

How well does information between these systems flow? What would the monitoring and feedback systems tell us?

As young boy I was fascinated by the natural world, in particular the ocean. This ultimately led me to a Master’s degree in oceanography. My research involved the review of the way in which heavy metals from man’s industrial and domestic activity could be traced through the sediments, water column and organisms of our oceans. My studies involved trips to the Artic circle the East Coast of the United States and the West and East coasts of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Photo of John Quirke sampling sediments off East Coast of USA and Artic Circle.

My work with metal chemistry led me to a role in the electronics company Fujistu where I developed and managed Electroplating and Ink Manufacturing processes. I stayed in the manufacturing field finally ending up in medical device and pharmaceutical environments and from there into the world of consulting.

But my studies and work in oceanography have always stayed with me. As I progressed in my career two things became clear. Industry did not optimise its processes to minimise the use of precious resources, thereby creating a lot of waste. This waste would eventually end up in some part of our natural environment where it’s impact would be studied by another research student!

Secondly business did not work with an integrated systems mindset. Even as a young fresh engineer it was clear that organisations were not set up to optimise the way important elements of the business worked together for the benefit of the whole.

My studies in oceanography revealed the web of integrated natural systems that have been in place for millennia. I could find traces of copper, lead and zinc which had originated from man’s land based activity in the deep ocean sediments. These contaminants were carried there through the cross over between living biological systems, and the physical circulatory and sedimentation systems of our great oceans.

James Lovelock author of the Gaia hypothesis showed just how interdependent and finely tuned our natural planetary systems are. During his research in the nineteen eighties, he describes how tiny marine plants called phytoplankton release the gas dimethylsulphide (DMS) which when it oxidises in the upper atmosphere is a major source of cloud-condensation nuclei (CCN). Thus, where there is an abundance of plankton the presence of DMS and resulting CCN cause clouds to form, reducing light levels and supressing excessive plankton growth.


Ref: Oceanic phytoplankton, atmospheric sulphur, cloud albedo and climate By Robert J. Charlson, James E. Lovelock, Meinrat O. Andreae & Stephen G. Warren. Published in Nature Vol. 326 No. 6114, 16 April 1987.

Now, all too late, our stone age brain is realising the power of interconnected natural systems to control and regulate our life support system – planet earth.

Within business we must begin to grasp the idea of integrated systems to ensure our businesses work as effectively and efficiently as possible. To neglect to do so is against the new nature of business.

Only businesses have the ingenuity and resources to react at the speeds necessary to mitigate the oncoming challenges to our planet. An integrated systems-based approach is critical to allow us to move out of our stone age brain and strive for a business environment that reflects deep excellence.

Celebrating Our New Doctor of Psychology – Bryan Cutliff

Congratulations to Bryan Cutliff, a pivotal member of our US Division who has recently been awarded his Doctor of Psychology in Leadership Psychology.  Bryan has brought a unique insight into leadership and the psychology of leading change to our team over recent years.  Having worked previously in executive leadership positions in healthcare in the US, Bryan now supports a number of our clients across the US and Europe.

Bryan is in good company as S A Partners is also home to Dr. Keivan Zokaei, Dr. Toni Whitehead, Dr. Donna Samuels, and Dr. Fiona Buttrey – who make a difference every day to our clients with their in-depth knowledge and skills in their chosen fields.

The Doctor of Psychology in Leadership Psychology program at William James College is a 4-year program that explores a unique approach to understanding how individuals function as leaders and followers.

This area of study examines those who are leaders themselves, who are followers, and those who advise leaders. The goal is to understand the elements of being a great leader, how individuals transition between being a leader and a follower based on the situation in an organizational setting, and what behaviors generate a culture where engaged and innovative workers can thrive. Students who study leadership psychology believe that the way an individual performs as a leader influences the performance of their team and colleagues.


Bryan’s research focused on the antecedents of work engagement. Specifically, he wanted to understand what increases it and through what mechanism that relationship exists. His research led him to the construct of self-leadership.

Self-leadership refers to strategies individuals can deploy to develop a sense of competence, self-determination, and purpose. He hypothesized that self-leadership is positively related to and predicts one’s level of work engagement by increasing a person’s internal sense of hope, optimism, resilience, and self-efficacy (collectively known as psychological capital).

Through statistical analysis, Bryan found evidence that individuals who employed various self-leadership strategies were consistently more engaged in their work than those who did not. Additionally, these individuals were also found to appraise themselves as having more psychological capital. Organizational leaders could benefit from this research in that it presents an alternative view of how to impact work engagement.

Traditional engagement models have often focused on a positional leader’s ability to increase an employee’s level of engagement. However, work engagement is an internal and personal process, and the burden to improve one’s engagement is best kept with the individual. This research suggests that if organizations teach their employees how to deploy self-leadership strategies independently, their people will experience more work engagement and become more self-efficacious, resilient, optimistic, and hopeful.

Please get in touch with or visit Bryans profile here if you would like further information on this research or to discuss how he may help you.

Three new partners appointed at fast growing consultancy firm S A Partners

Following rapid growth, S A Partners is welcoming three new members to its partnership team –
Clare Pryce; Kenneth Wisinski and Jim Mikulski.

Simon Grogan, Managing Director is delighted to welcome these new appointments:

“Over the last two years, we have seen some remarkable changes within our businesses and even more remarkable growth.  We have expanded our US operations and seen growth across all the regions in which we operate – the US, Europe, and Australia.  We have developed new offers that enable us to support our clients both in-person and virtually.  These individuals have already demonstrated a commitment to supporting others as they improve.  It’s what we believe in as an organisation – I am grateful that they have chosen to share their journey with us.”

Clare Pryce joined S A Partners in 2005 has been appointed as a Partner in recognition and appreciation of her contribution to the successful growth of the business. Robin Jaques, Senior Partner and Finance Director commented:

“We are absolutely delighted that Clare has chosen to join the partnership team as she is an integral part of our global team, supporting every member of the business on a daily basis. The appointment also breaks a long standing tradition to only appoint fee-earning partners – a clear sign of the maturity of our growing business”.

Kenneth Wisinski has been working within our US business as a Senior Consultant for over three years and brings extensive experience in Program and operations management, with a focus on continuous improvement.  Kenneth is a certified Shingo facilitator and is currently working with a number of our large multi-national clients supporting them with both their SHINGO journey and their leadership development programmes.  Prior to joining S A Partners, Kenneth held senior roles at Toyota, Kautex, Magna, and United Technologies. He is a Project Management Professional (PMP); Professional Scrum Master, Six Sigma Black Belt, and Lean practitioner.

Jim Mikulski joined S A Partners in 2020, following a career in Enterprise Excellence holding both consultancy and operational management positions.  He has trained over 1,700 people in Lean Six Sigma and certified 340 green belts, black belts and Lean Masters.  Jim is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Lean Master and holds a Masters in Manufacturing Management. He will continue to support our US and international clients and support the development of our new product offers.

7 phases of Business Transformation

Every organisation will move through cycles of growth, change and at times decline.


To strive for success and Enterprise Excellence requires a focus on continuous improvement and the alignment of the organisations purpose, people, and processes. Employee Engagement & culture affect an organisations ability to realise its ideal results, by ensuring your transformation programme engages all employees and stakeholders will improve your chance of sustainability and success.


This 7 Phase approach outlines how we can support you with your Transformation journey.  The journey will engage all the stakeholders and provide you with a framework to achieve your desired results.

The Insights Podcast – Continuous Improvement in Utilities with Megan James

Megan James speaks to SA Partners Mat Jackson on his experience of deploying and sustaining operational excellence within the utilities sector. Understand why continuous improvement is needed now more than ever today within the sector, and how the approach can and should be adapted to fit the unique needs of the sector. For more information on the unique application of operational excellence within the sector please contact

The Insights Podcast – CI in Utilities

Megan James speaks to SA Partners Mat Jackson on his experience of deploying and sustaining operational excellence within the utilities sector. Understand why continuous improvement is needed now more than ever today within the sector, and how the approach can and should be adapted to fit the unique needs of the sector.

Onsite Insights Returns in 2022!

Relaunch of the Best Practice Visit Programme in the UK

We are delighted to announce the relaunch of Onsite Insights – the UK’s national best practice visit programme.

The programme has been put on hold during the last two years but we are delighted that our host sites have once again agreed to welcome visitors back in 2022.  Onsite Insights was originally founded as Inside UK Enterprise in 1983 by the Department of Trade & Industry. It became Onsite Insights in 2004 and became part of the S A Partners group in 2018.  The programme exists to encourage the sharing of innovation and best practice between companies. It has supported thousands of businesses over the last thirty years on their journey to operational excellence.  We will continue to run a number of visits virtually over the next year and will also support the virtual forums that have been so successful over the last two years.

Ailsa Carson who has been running the programme since 2001 said:

“The programme is popular as it provides an insight into what works and why – directly from companies that have achieved success.  Both the visitors and host sites benefit from the sharing of knowledge; the networking and the informal benchmarking.  I’m so grateful to the host sites for getting back involved after what has been a challenging and disruptive period.  We’ve had a huge number of requests over recent weeks for visits which is testimony to the value of the visits and the desire to get back out to see best practice”

For more information on the upcoming visits please do visit: or email

S A Partners launch Carbon Neutral Programme

We are pleased to announce that S A Partners has begun its journey to Carbon Neutrality by supporting the Ocean Foundation, a blue carbon initiative focusing on the support and rebuilding of ocean habitats through the replantation of Seagrass, mangroves, and blue carbon education.

The Carbon Neutral Programme aims to completely offset the business’s carbon production from activities such as travel (both by car and airplane) and our events and workshops both virtual and in-person.


Why the Ocean Foundation?

As mentioned earlier the Ocean Foundation supports Blue Carbon projects across the world. S A Partners will be supporting their Blue Resilience initiative based in Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Mosquito Bay, Vieques in Puerto Rico. “Blue Carbon” is estimated to store up to 10 times the amount of carbon per hectare compared to terrestrial forest but it’s not just a Carbon project, seagrass provides new habitats for endangered marine life and acts as a natural water filter leading to improved water quality. Seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and salt marshes also act as a natural defence for nearby civilizations from flooding. Along with this the ocean foundation supports local communities through education on Blue Carbon protection.

One of the creators of our Carbon Neutral Programme, Jordan Squire, had this to say about the Ocean Foundation “When we first heard about Blue Carbon it immediately piqued our interest. Many of our colleagues in S A Partners have a connection with the sea and it was a quick way to begin offsetting our carbon production. We then found the ocean foundation and were blown away by the work that they do, they weren’t just a charity to offset your carbon, you could tell they truly had a passion for what they were doing, and it wasn’t just about Carbon, the work on protecting habitats and supporting local civilizations and communities was astounding. ‘Together, the power to improve’ doesn’t just account for our work, we think of it much wider than that and The Ocean Foundation epitomized that belief

For more information on this contact

Coaching Triads

We have been running coaching triads in our business for over ten years to support learning and development.  More recently we have introduced Coaching Triads as part of our onboarding process. They have delivered unforeseen benefits, colleagues are collaborating across continents in ways we never thought possible. The Triads are yielding some great insights into how as a business we could improve and grow.

So what are they and how do they work?

A coaching triad involves a group of peers coming together (we run them weekly) and each member of the group takes it in turn to coach one another.  Whilst some companies use this for teams that work in similar disciplines we have found that cross functional and cross company teams work just as well.

Normally, as the name implies there are three people in each team, however you can run as larger groups and then use breakouts – but clearly multiples of three are ideal.  In the active session individuals will take on the role of either Coach, Coachee or Observer.

  • Coach: The Coach is responsible for asking probing questions, listening to the coachee, challenging their assumptions and giving feedback, but should not offer solutions or give advice. They may follow a structure, such as the GROW model (see across), or may simply ask questions designed to get the coachee to think through the issues and options and move forward to action.


  • Coachee: The coachee will respond to the Coach and will bring an issue to be considered, they must agree to be open and honest when addressing the questions put by the coach and also be prepared to take action as a result of the coaching conversation.


  • Observer: The observer(s) watch and listen to the coaching conversation and provide feedback to the coach and coachee. The intention is to provide constructive feedback on what has been said, for example, highlighting points that appeared to be particularly effective or less effective. The observer might point out questions that had moved the coachee forward or points where the coach stepped outside the coaching role and offered advice.


The group needs to be mutually supportive, there are no requirements to be an experienced coach but it is useful for the team to understand some basic principles of coaching and listening.

We included a Soundwave assessment at the beginning of the process so that each member could understand their communication style and preference.

Our Head of Learning & Development,  Juliette Packham introduced the Triads to enable the new team members to create a support network across the business and she commented:

“We have been running coaching triads across the business for over ten years and they have allowed us to develop our own skills so it seemed natural to introduce these into our induction process as the team is growing so quickly.  They encourage individuals to develop their own skills and build employee-led learning – the added benefit is the connectivity across the growing international team.

This may be the child of the new virtual world but it is one that I would whole heartedly encourage others to embrace.

For more information please do contact either Juliette Packham or Ailsa Carson.

The GROW Model

Sir John Whitmore’s GROW Model Coaching for Performance (Whitmore 2019)

Making it Happen: The Art of Executing Strategy – J Mark Fillingham

Our research shows that one of the key missing elements in most organisations’ transformation journey towards excellence is successful strategy execution.

Effective strategy execution provides the mechanism to achieve the ideal results your organisation seeks, in the shortest possible time and with least possible resources and cost. Nonetheless, research shows that having an effective ‘strategic management process’ is one of the key hurdles to success in many organisations. A recent Harvard Business School article, claimed that 90 percent of businesses fail to reach their strategic goals, which is down to the gap between strategic planning and execution. Moreover, another HBS research illustrates that 95% of employees are unaware of, or do not understand, their company’s strategy.

Not only, did we share insights into popular approaches such as OKRs, Hoshin and MIS/MOS, but also shared ideas on how to socialise strategy within your teams to drive true ownership and widespread engagement. We also covered how to build true cultural transformation by developing the habits and systems that enable success.

Download J Mark Fillingham’s presentation from the button above

Making it Happen: The Art of Executing Strategy – Toby Hayles

Our research shows that one of the key missing elements in most organisations’ transformation journey towards excellence is successful strategy execution.

Effective strategy execution provides the mechanism to achieve the ideal results your organisation seeks, in the shortest possible time and with least possible resources and cost. Nonetheless, research shows that having an effective ‘strategic management process’ is one of the key hurdles to success in many organisations. A recent Harvard Business School article, claimed that 90 percent of businesses fail to reach their strategic goals, which is down to the gap between strategic planning and execution. Moreover, another HBS research illustrates that 95% of employees are unaware of, or do not understand, their company’s strategy.

Not only, did we share insights into popular approaches such as OKRs, Hoshin and MIS/MOS, but also shared ideas on how to socialise strategy within your teams to drive true ownership and widespread engagement. We also covered how to build true cultural transformation by developing the habits and systems that enable success.

Download Toby Hayles’ presentation from the button above

Making it Happen: The Art of Executing Strategy – Noel Hennessy

Our research shows that one of the key missing elements in most organisations’ transformation journey towards excellence is successful strategy execution.

Effective strategy execution provides the mechanism to achieve the ideal results your organisation seeks, in the shortest possible time and with least possible resources and cost. Nonetheless, research shows that having an effective ‘strategic management process’ is one of the key hurdles to success in many organisations. A recent Harvard Business School article, claimed that 90 percent of businesses fail to reach their strategic goals, which is down to the gap between strategic planning and execution. Moreover, another HBS research illustrates that 95% of employees are unaware of, or do not understand, their company’s strategy.

Not only, did we share insights into popular approaches such as OKRs, Hoshin and MIS/MOS, but also shared ideas on how to socialise strategy within your teams to drive true ownership and widespread engagement. We also covered how to build true cultural transformation by developing the habits and systems that enable success.

Download Noel Hennessy’s presentation from the button above

Total Asset Care in major Agrifresh Food Suppliers

This case study shows how TPM was adapted to support two international food producers, supplying agrifresh products to major supermarkets globally.

Our customers recognised that in order to meet increased sales demand for their retail fresh and coated product lines an increase in productivity was required using existing resources, without the need for capital expenditure. The opportunity for a reduced staff turnover level brought along the requirement to upskill their existing operations staff and tap into unrealised human potential.

Download the Case Study for free on the download link provided.


S A Partners 7 step guide to planning your SHINGO Journey

Shingo is a philosophy to frame and sustain your journey to enterprise excellence

A common question we get asked about Shingo is “where do I start?”

This 7 step guide breaks down the Shingo journey, from where you start to where you can strive to be