News & Downloads

The Journey of a Continuous Improvement (CI) Leader

Who Am I? I’m a seasoned Accelerate Automotive CI Leader with nearly three decades of experience. My journey began in 1997, and since then, I’ve embraced every challenge with enthusiasm. I thrive on the satisfaction of overcoming seemingly impossible tasks, and I believe in the power of hard work. For me, work isn’t just a […]

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Developing Leadership Agility

by Dr. Bryan Cutliff FACHE Leaders today engage in many diverse and complex activities and face a new set of challenges requiring agility. These could span from accepting new roles and responsibilities to taking organizations to new heights, to navigating tremendous internal and external pressures to adopt new ways of thinking around diversity, equity, and […]

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Factory of the Future or Factory for the Planet?

by John Quirke The “Factory for the Planet” concept represents a visionary approach to industrial operations that prioritizes environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and long-term business viability. As a business model it aligns with global efforts to address climate change, resource depletion, and evolving consumer expectations for ethical and eco-friendly products and services. I have seen, […]

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The Invaluable Power of Vulnerability In Leadership Teams

In the often stoic and authoritative realm of senior leadership, the notion of vulnerability might seem counterintuitive. However, a closer examination reveals that embracing vulnerability can be a powerful catalyst for positive change, fostering a culture of trust, collaboration, and innovation within senior leadership teams. As all leaders cast a shadow, this trait of vulnerability […]

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Digital Requirements

For those who have worked with me in the past, something that I’ve harped on about is the importance of ensuring that technology follows process, not the other way around.   I’ve said this from years of experience seeing organisations taking the approach of ‘our existing tools won’t change and we’re not going to get any […]

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Organic v. Planned Expansion

Process Management initiatives often start in a certain part of an organisation to solve a specific business problem. For example, we may find that our Customer Satisfaction Score is below target, so we prioritise our process management efforts to focus on our customer services processes. This may be the entire scope of our process management […]

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Are you struggling to automate? Try standardization instead.

Many of the clients with whom I work have identified that process Digitization and Automation are critical to their ability to survive, let alone grow. And as such they invest. They hire teams of automation experts. They train their teams to be citizen developers. They buy automation tools. And nothing happens.   The problem here is […]

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TPM as a system to support your long-term sustainability and cultural transformation goals

By John Quirke, Partner If you consider TPM (Total Productive Manufacturing) only as a tool in your continuous improvement toolbox you are missing a major opportunity.  TPM provides a core system and philosophy to transform the culture of your manufacturing operation and bring life to your aspirations of greater sustainable environmentally business performance. What is […]

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Bryan Cutliff earns top Healthcare Management Credential

Brighton, MI – 3 January 2024 Bryan Cutliff, PsyD, FACHE, Partner at S A Partners Inc. – strategy deployment consultants based in Michigan, recently became a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the nation’s leading professional society for healthcare leaders. “The healthcare management field plays a vital role in providing high-quality care to […]

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Unleashing Innovation: The Crucial Role of Creativity in Modern Business

By Conor Dawson, Head of Ireland Region In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape, the ability to innovate has become a cornerstone of success. As organisations strive to stay ahead of the competition, adapt to technological advancements, meet looming legal ESG imperatives, and meet the changing needs of consumers, creativity emerges as a driving force […]

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What makes a great Deployment Leader?

by Simon Grogan Great deployment leaders possess a unique set of skills and qualities that enable them to lead their teams toward Enterprise Excellence. Do you have what it takes? Ask yourself these three questions… I know who I am, what I’m good at, how I speak, listen, and think, I know what brings me […]

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5 Great Reasons to Undertake an Assessment

We all need to grow, innovate and compete. To do this we need to have a deep understanding of our organization’s current state – hence the need to build a regular benchmarking assessment into your strategic plan. We’ve identified 5 compelling reasons to kick start an assessment: Identifying Gaps One of the primary reasons to […]

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The Power of Benchmarking

By Ailsa Carson, Partner Benchmarking is defined as the act or practice of measuring something against a standard, or of testing in order to develop such a standard[i]. Most organizations that are invested in best practice or continuous improvement will use benchmarking either formally or informally to support their journey. It can take place within […]

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The Role of Leadership in Digital Transformation

By Jack Worboys, Consultant  Technology is changing the world in which we live faster and more exponentially than ever. Our use of technology pervades every aspect of our lives and it is therefore imperative that every organisation has a digital transformation that is aligned to their strategic objectives. It is however all too easy to get […]

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Delivering Process Improvement

We all want to improve the way that we work. Process improvement (digital or otherwise) doesn’t just happen though, someone has to drive these projects. Whose responsibility should this be? Should we ask our divisions to improve their own processes or do we create a transformation team to do it for them.     To start, […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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: Unconscious Communication: Often, we communicate without conscious thought, assuming […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Start your Digital Transformation Journey today…

Listen in to find out how you can begin your digital transformation journey today. Ishan Sellahewa shares how to align both your digital transformation with your Enterprise Excellence journey. Contact ishan.sellahewa@sapartners.com with any questions

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Align, Engage, Improve – Tiered Management System

Discover how the Align, Engage, Improve (AEI) system can support your organisation to deploy an effective and engaging Tiered Management System Contact juliette.packham@sapartners.com or keivan.zokaei@sapartners.com with any questions

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Aligning Process Management with Enterprise Excellence

I’m guessing that, given you’ve taken the time out of your day to read a blog on process management, you understand the importance of having clear and current documented processes. What we all need to remember though is that while process documentation is a necessity, it will do nothing on its own. This is why […]

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Align, Engage, Improve with Effective Tiered Meetings

By Sonja Allen Have you ever considered… How many meetings you have a week? How many of these meetings could be an email? How many of these meetings have few or no results? How many rabbit holes do your meeting conversations go down? How regularly do you talk about what really matters, in a focused […]

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Lean Fundamentals: The Problem with Problem Solving
Across various industries, there has been a consistent demand to improveproblem-solving skills within businesses. Organizations often prioritize theuse of problem-solving tools and approaches, considering probleminvestigation and resolution as critical aspects of regulatory compliance.However, the prevailing culture associated with compliance-drivenproblem solving often leads to shallow investigations, rushed resolutions,and recurring issues. Download The Problem with Problem Solving
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Pocket Guide to: Changeover Optimisation
Manufacturing organisations are under pressure to increase productivity and improve flexibility & responsiveness to customer needs. Changeover optimisation is a means of improving performance to create a more flexible manufacturing environment. Equipment flexibility & responsiveness are core requirements of all modern manufacturing thinking and largely determined by process changeover capability. To download click the download [...]
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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 […]

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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 […]

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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, […]

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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 […]

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Your IT department might be unknowingly undermining your culture

We all know humans are inherently lazy – we tend to take the path of least resistance. This makes sense; both mental and physical activity takes a lot of energy, something that was scarce at the time when we had to hunt and gather for our next meal. For a more recent example, if you […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Understanding Lean Leadership

By MEGAN JAMES, European Business Development Manager I previously shared the S A Partners implementation model for Enterprise Excellence and how to use this to build effective training programmes. In case you missed it, you can find it HERE. I received some great queries specifically about the design of the Leadership element so I wanted […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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S A Partners Launches Online Learning Capability

Well, ok we may be a bit slow starting but I promise you that we have caught up fast. Over the past three years with the impact of COVID19 we have seen a significant shift in the way we all learn, we have become more comfortable with the use of technology in how we develop […]

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Why I’m uneasy with the term ‘True North’ by John Quirke

I came in for a bit of teasing by a work colleague recently over my uneasiness with the term True North.   We were working with a leadership community in a large automotive business, and he used the term True North, which brought about an obvious and over exaggerated wince from me which raised a few […]

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6 Requirements for Successful Process Management

Too often organisations think that successfully rolling out process management (‘PM’) means simply providing their team members with a process mapping tool, some basic training, and expecting it to just get done. This approach will invariably result in either nothing getting done, or processes being mapped but never followed or updated. While PM might not […]

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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 [...]
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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.      [...]
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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 [...]
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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 [...]
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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 [...]
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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 [...]
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Team Celebrates Shingo Publication Award for TPM: A foundation of Operational Excellence
On May 19 in Orlando, Florida, John Quirke, Life Science Practice Leader at global consulting company, S A Partners, received the SHINGO Publication Award on behalf of the team for the book TPM (Total Productive Manufacturing): A Foundation of Operational Excellence.  John, along with business colleagues Andy Brunskill and Peter Willmott, are authors of the [...]
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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 [...]
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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 [...]
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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 [...]
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Food Sector: Is it too busy too improve?
As someone who has worked with many, many Food companies around the world on their Continuous Improvement and Business Transformation journeys, there is not a lot that surprises me or unnerves me. As the old saying goes “I probably have seen it all”. I have worked across Branded Name and Own Label Food Manufacturers across [...]
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