Hold the Date – 3rd Annual NZ CI Conference – 30th August 2017

Join us on the 30th August for the third annual Continuous Improvement Conference hosted at Massey University in Albany.

Building on the success of the past two events we are looking to bring you a great event, and a chance to network and learn from others

Our event also features the NZ book launch of 4 + 1: Embedding a Culture of Continuous Improvement in Financial Services by Dr Morgan L. Jones, Chris Butterworth & Brenton Harder

We are in the early stages of lining up a great selection of key note speakers and stream activities including additional speakers and workshop activities to make the day informative, engaging and fun. Our current line up includes:

Dr Morgan Jones – Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Paul Salmon – Lean IT

Chris Till – HR Institute NZ

Farah Palmer – Former Captain, Black Ferms

Adam Bentley – Countdown Supermarkets

Rob McGee – Auckland Leisure

We are finalising the full programme this month and aim to have the full details ready in early March.

So mark the diary and join us on the 30th August to join the throng!

Your opportunity to join the newly formed Lean and Sustainable Industry Consortium

A unique opportunity to collaborate with like-minded organisations and leading thinkers on Lean and Sustainable issues has emerged.

The next GEMBA exchange is being held at the Vaillant group on the 3rd March. The Vaillant Group were the winners of the best Factory Award for 2015. They are at the forefront of sustainability management and have set a benchmark in the areas of ecological, economical and social sustainability. The agenda for this meeting can be viewed by opening the agenda PDF.

Membership in this network provides you and your organisation the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals in a safe, engaging and open environment. The consortium’s vision is to form a selective group of senior industry players who are currently leading the creation of leaner and greener business practices within their companies. This will be a small group of around 15 leading edge organizations, coming together regularly to build a global lean and green community. There are a number of key benefits for the members:

  • Participation in the consortium events such as quarterly facilitated “Gemba exchanges”, online forums and regular seminars.
  • First hand observation of how other businesses, from diverse sectors, create lean and green and how they sustain the results.
  • Facilitated “lean and green maturity assessment” for your selected sites and creation of your own bespoke lean and green business roadmap where needed.
  • Credibility of thought leadership and university collaboration.
  • Opportunity to influence the direction of your own business as well as being directly involved in shaping the direction of “lean and green business” on the global stage.
  • Staff training and Gemba coaching opportunities. All members will be offered to go through the Lean & Green training programme accredited through Cardiff University.
  • Access to lean and green experts and facilitators, expert trainers and training material, tools, and cutting edge of knowledge.

The Lean and Sustainable Industry Consortium is owned by its member organisations and will be governed by a board directors consisting of the ‘Lean and Green’ Shingo award winning authors, Andy Wood (Chairman), Hunter Lovins, Keivan Zokaei and Prof. Peter Hines.

To find out more about this opportunity, download the PDF benefits document.

You can also contact Keivan Zockaei at keivan.zokaei@sapartners.com, or call him on +44 (0)7966 299598

Random but Reflective Ramblings of a Lone Consultant – No.1. Repair or Improve (looks a bit like Shirley)

So my first car was a 1978 Ford Cortina 1600L Saloon. Bought it in 1986 for £350- a month’s pay at the time 102,000 miles on the clock-3 careful owners. I was working for the DHSS and wanted to impress Beth from incontinent payments. Anyway after numerous rejections Beth eventually wore down and agreed to an evening out –a walk by the sea in Port Talbot and a chip buttie. The Cortina needed some welding-both sills had gone and the seat mountings were very rusty. Pay day arrived and I had the option of welding the Ford or buying a fancy new radio/cassette player for the car. I used my brain and obviously bought a cassette player to impress Beth. I embraced my feminine side and invested in a new tape of an emerging band called the Pet shop boys. Mam ironed my best Hawaiian shirt and it was off to pick up Beth. She emerged from her mother’s looking stunning in white cowboy boots, summer tanned legs, a blue rar rar skirt and pink and green stripped top. Beth was going for the full Pepsi and Shirley look (for our younger readers Wham’s backing singers) (for our younger, younger readers George Michael was in Wham and he had 2 girl backing singers) ….Beth looked a bit like Shirley).

Any way, I opened the door for Beth she climbed into the beast; she had a wrestle with the seat belt and eventually buckled in. I did a Dave Starsky, slide across the bonnet and climbed into the driver’s side. I flicked on the cassette-Beth was obviously impressed. The smell of my Kouros mingled with her Poison and the pine fresh magic tree made a heady mix in the car. Off we went through town and up Neath Road to Bryn. Neath Road is a 1.25 mile hill that takes the main road out of Maesteg to Port Talbot. Half way up the hill we encountered a Brewers bus doing about 15mph and belching black diesel fumes. I thought its time to unleash the power of the 1600 and further impress Beth. I changed down, waited for a gap and shot out to overtake the bus. To my side I heard Beth squeal- obviously she was impressed with my driving skills. I cut back in front of the bus and turned to give Beth one of my first best Carlos fandango smiles. Unfortunatly Beth wasn’t there, the rusted seat mountings had snapped and she had done a version of the frosby flop onto the back seat. All I could see was 2 White Cowboy boots, some suntanned legs and a pair of Marks and Spencer’s tangas size 10. I pulled in by the Golf club and helped Beth from her predicament.  Now this story doesn’t  end well, Beth decided she wanted to go home and I could keep my chip buttie, crap music and 70’s shirt. Two years later she married Ian from RMP glazing.

So what’s the point of all this middle aged rambling- Repair or improve. We see lots of business that try to create the ideal state, but pay no attention to the current state. I spent all my money on a pipe dream. I should have welded the Cortina and put the cassette in when the car was safe.  How many future states fail? In my experience it’s the majority. People all want the magic fix, but they do not address the fundamental problems within the organisation. Stability is a very dull subject, but the best Companies standardise before they Customise…..don’t try to build your fancy beach house on quick sand. Maps often look at issues and wastes. We need to examine what are the true causes of problems not just the effects. Kanban is the answer to all stores problems…what if its not? What if it’s the size of the warehouse, the purchasing team, the IT system? When mapping try looking at the way we try developing our systems, our people as well as the faults in the process.

So guess what I did next to the Cortina? Took out the passenger seat all together and invested in two new fogs lamps for the front. I had an invite to Beth and Ian’s wedding, took Natasha Davies who was scared stiff of cars and liked the fact she always had to travel in the back!

Deep thoughts on a Cliff Walk in East Cork

Last weekend S A Partners supported the Chernobyl Children’s foundations annual cliff walk from Ballycotton to Ballinrostig along the beautiful South Coast of Ireland.  It’s a spectacular day and spectacular walk with over 400 walkers turning out on the day.


As we walked along the cliffs the path narrows as it passes through thick and prickly undergrowth.  At certain points a stone wall or obstacle needs to be overcome.  This created obvious bottle neck and a queue built up in front of the ‘constraint’ as walkers in various degrees of fitness attempted to overcome the obstacle.  Watching the proceedings I was reminded of Little’s Law a fundamental rule within the application of lean thinking within a system.

It states:  Throughput time = Units in process x Cycletime.

The more inventories you have in front of a process the longer it will take for individual unit to pass through the process.  Not rocket science but a real issue in many businesses.

As I walked further along the path I considered ways in which the build up of ‘inventory’ in front of the constraint could have been reduced.  A person helping people to get over the wall would have reduced the cycle time of the process.  Or an alternative route over the wall maybe even an easier one so that the flow of work to the constraint could be segregated into faster fitter and slower less fitter work streams.



All this was bubbling through my head and then we came to Ballycroneen Beach.  This is a beautiful sand and stone beach very picturesque.  But some yahoo had backed up a trailer on to the beach and dumped the contents of what looked like a child’s bedroom along with some electrical equipment on to the beach!  I along with the majority of walkers were completely stunned by the mess it created.



So here is the rub.  I had just spent the last hour mulling how processes can make stuff quicker.  Now here we are looking a pile of stuff which took a process a couple of hour to make, brought ‘value’ to its customer for maybe six months to a year and is now dumped into the environment and will probably sit around for maybe thousands of years?  All that time effort, design, energy, standard achievement, meetings and transport associated with these products to finally sit and rot over thousands of years on a beautiful beach.

I read somewhere that 95% of all the plastic EVER MADE is still with us today.

And here we are staring at this heap of human effort and resource corroding slowly away on a beautiful beach in East Cork.  What are we to do?  What are we to do?