Total Clothing wanted to involve people from right across the team to streamline their processes, to prepare in advance for another year of major growth. They asked Critical Action to help with building vision, identifying changes and putting a plan into action.
“We worked with many of our team, led by Keith, to identify bottlenecks in our processes and by voting on the most urgent issues, gave everyone a sense of inclusion and buy-in.
It has brought the team so much closer in terms of working towards common goals and also in the way they communicate with each other on an ongoing basis.
We are really thinking differently as a team about the way we operate and this is translating into actions and profitability.
Keith’s no nonsense, practical way of facilitating, managing and ensuring that tasks were completed by all has really helped us overcome some challenging issues and we are moving forward with some exciting times ahead.”
Jan Richardson Managing Director, Total Clothing Ltd
It’s great to see recent initiatives such as the Year of Code, the Raspberry Pi foundation, and many others. They are helping get people, especially young people, be curious about what happens “under the hood” of computers, and try things out for themselves.
If you haven’t seen the Moshi Pong coding game/lesson at yearofcode.org it’s well worth a look. It’s main purpose is to introduce the key principles of coding: logic, events, getters, setters, objects and attributes, etc., etc. all with immediate gratification – make a change to the code and the game behaves differently.
Another aspect I really like is the visual, block-based approach to editing the game – tacitly, this is doing requirements analysis, user experience (UX) design, and visual organisation of needs. We see these as crucial elements of the analysis work we do with businesses when they are transforming processes and gathering requirements for new systems.
We recommend to clients that at least the main user journey and key process flows should be walked through on whiteboards, paper or similar software before even thinking about detailed specs and coding.
Our experience is that time invested early is rarely wasted, and usually identifies several “gotchas” and opportunity to add really valuable new features to the end result.
We have been working with a client recently on a simple, clear way of prioritising both strategic and day-to-day demands on time (in this case for the IT department).
If It’s Too Hard, Abdicate It…?
At Critical Action, we’re great believers in the principle that managers and leaders can’t create two independent sets of priorities for strategic (“we must improve the business”) and tactical (“we must keep our users and customers happy”) activities, and abdicate to operational staff the balancing of the two in the real world. Continue reading →
One of our mantras is “keep it simple“, because we work in an area that is complicated enough to begin with!
When we look at how businesses can improve, it inevitably means having to maintain the big picture (where are we heading?) together with digging into the details (as they can often be the blockers). To drive simplicity through what we do, we evolved a very simple set of tools & reports, which we use to run projects.
In a recent Twitter exchange with one of my friends (@eileenb), we were discussing productivity and planning. We covered things like the “5 Ps” (perfect planning prevents poor performance). As you might imagine, with a project manager’s hat on, things like the 5 Ps are stocks-in-trade for delivering the results clients need. My standpoint was slightly different though.
Risk For The Rest Of Us – Managing Elephants in Rooms
Risk Management is a huge area with lots of specialist people, companies, books, qualifications and so on. So should we even go there if we’re not black belts…? And what’s this about elephants? Continue reading →
Business improvement thoughts come to me in the strangest places…
We’ve just had a period of sunshine and rain that has been great for the grass in our horses’ field, but it has also caused the ragwort to sprout. Ragwort is poisonous to horses and needs to be thoroughly eradicated from fields (I think it may even be an offence to knowingly let it grow).
This means going out with a special fork to remove the plants including the deep roots. My wife asked me to concentrate first on the plants that had grown enough in the week to flower, to prevent them going to seed and exacerbating the problem.
Being my usual self, I set out with the wheelbarrow and fork, determined to clear every last vestige of ragwort from a 3 acre field. Continue reading →