Undertaking a piece of consultancy is best done by following a recognised model or cycle. Getting from Newcastle to a remote Welsh village is best done following a road map. Neither will guarantee a positive result, you might still get lost, but each will increase your chances of success if used correctly.
Our consultancy cycle starts with the Entry phase to establish the client relationship and scope the piece of work. Next comes the Contracting phase to agree in detail what will be done and how. The subsequent phases work through Analysis, Diagnosis, Options & Recommendations and finally Implementation. Each phase includes its own set of appropriate tools and techniques.
Many think and believe that consultancy is a dark art which is the preserve of the large corporates; certainly the big consulting firms would lead you to believe so. This is not the case and there are many examples of organisations, both public and private, that have built their own internal consultancy capability. Of course no team or unit can do everything so if a particular skill or specialism isn’t available internally then buying-in from the external market is the likely alternative.
We have experience of training hundreds of individuals and dozens of teams in consultancy tools and techniques, helping to build and develop internal teams that deliver real results and this is where our focus lies. This can result in substantial savings and release more money to improve your business.
There are two general types of continuous improvement activities. Breakthrough improvements often occur suddenly and result in a dramatic improvement. Typically, breakthrough improvements are made by one or a few individuals who develop a new theory, invention or technology to solve an old problem. On the other hand, incremental improvements are less dramatic improvements that are carried out by many people over time in gradual and constant small steps.
Both types of improvement are necessary. While breakthrough improvements can produce huge gains, they can also be unpredictable. Incremental improvement may not produce dramatic effects, but the results will be long-lasting. The accumulation of countless small improvements is often equal to or greater than the value of one or two breakthrough improvements.
We have worked with many organisations to help identify an on-going sequence of improvements that have engaged everyone to gradually and continuously improve their daily work. Excellent organisations spend considerable time and effort to achieve both breakthrough and incremental improvements. In our experience either type of improvement is more likely to occur if you develop an Internal Team that focuses on creating a holistic approach to Continuous Improvement and not just on the ‘Tools’.
Why do so many projects go wrong?
Could part of the problem be a fear of failure? Or maybe there is too much confusing jargon e.g. Program Manager, Project Sponsor, Business Case, Project Charter, Project Mandate to name just a few.
Increasingly organisations are beginning to realise that by properly understanding the scale of a project they can make better informed decisions about how to manage it. A3 Training Ltd offers a Level 3 qualification course [accredited by the CMI] that differs from the norm by including a new approach to Project Management. At A3 we have introduced a new matrix that allows you, the Project Manager, to assess the size of a project and consequently the amount of time and resource required. All this whilst retaining the essential steps and tools associated with all credible methodologies (e.g. Prince2 / Waterfall / PDCA / Agile / DMAIC).
Our two-day course comprises tutor input sessions, interactive exercises, media clips and an opportunity to work on your own project.
All courses can also be delivered on an in-house basis, tailored to meet your specific organisational needs with regards to the units covered and course structure.
Change management involves the processes that ensure a business responds to the environment in which it operates. Change is something that happens in businesses all the time and can occur in an organisation’s internal or external environment. As a result, this process of change is constant and our programmes look at the drivers of change in the business environment.
Effective managers are proactive in creating solutions to improve the organisation’s performance; they must then manage employees through the change process. It is in the interest of managers to predict the changes that are likely to take place, have a plan and then drive change initiatives. This involves managing the change process and making it part of an organisation’s strategy. This then helps businesses to develop in a more focused way within its operating environment, whilst facing new challenges with more certainty.
Organisations require skilled and well-qualified managers and leaders to drive change initiatives and effectively manage employees through the process.
Our courses enable you to accelerate the pace of change, to deal with resistors and to develop clear visions and realistic plans. They are full of practical tools and techniques to help you understand, manage and implement change successfully.
Most people can remember times when they worked for good managers and, sadly, times when they worked for poor managers. But what was it that made the difference? What is good management?
All good managers keep up to date with their skills and abilities. They maintain their Continuous Personal Development through training, qualifications, attending seminars, webinars or maybe shadowing a colleague. There is a set of skills that will help any manager, whether new to the job or experienced.
Effective managers use their time efficiently, run meetings with purpose and agreed outcomes, communicate well, form productive and proficient teams, and impart information with confidence and style.
We offer a range of training courses along with relevant tools and techniques that support our overall aim of Continuous Improvement. We can work with individuals and coach them to develop their skill set, or we can deliver active, engaging courses for groups of managers.
There are good organisations and there are great organisations. The great ones have great managers who work towards Continuous Improvement. We have successfully assisted both individuals and teams to develop their management skills.
We all solve problems on a daily basis, at work and in our day-to-day lives. Any job will also bring problems to be faced. It is important to have the right skills to resolve these problems, and the personal resilience to handle the challenges and pressure they may bring.
Importantly, problems can also be opportunities as they allow you to see things differently and to do things in a different way; perhaps to make a fresh start.
Solving problems involves both analytical and creative skills. Which particular skills are needed will vary, depending on the problem and your role in the organisation. Our workshops provide a range of creative approaches to problem-solving for example the use of ‘Ketso’, 10@10, and 3Cs.
In the world of Continuous Improvement it is widely accepted that coaching staff and colleagues is the preferred way of management. For many this means a move away from the traditional style of management; or to put it another way, moving from a ‘checking’ culture to a ‘coaching’ culture. This can be seen when a manager stops saying ‘I’ve checked your work, it’s not up to standard so do it again by tomorrow morning’ and starts saying ‘I’ve reviewed your work and I think there are areas that could be improved. When can we meet to talk it through?’
Anyone can be a coach, it’s not just for managers and a common misunderstanding is that the coach needs to be an expert in the subject. Not so, as evidenced by an Olympic swimmer gold medallist whose coach couldn’t swim!
Good coaches know how to build relationships, engender trust, listen and not be judgmental. Good coaches create the right environment to help individuals identify their goals, develop and consider options, remove obstacles and plan for implementation. Coaching is about extracting thoughts from the person being coached and helping them take more control of their own learning and experience.
Our training offers models, tools and techniques that enable coaches to meet these challenges.
Facilitation comes from the Latin word ‘facilis’ which means ‘easy.’ Facilitation skills enable you to work with groups of people to help them generate ideas, make decisions, select preferred options, gain commitment and build teams. A facilitated workshop is different from managing a meeting. Typically a meeting focuses on reviewing progress and agreeing actions by working through an agenda. A facilitated workshop may also produce actions, but the approach is much more about opening up discussion, getting issues and ideas out in the open, using exercises to stimulate thinking and using tools and techniques to energise the group.
In the world of management and Continuous Improvement facilitation is a key skill. Our training provides the essential theory and, importantly, the opportunity to practice new found skills in a safe environment before using them in a real situation. Constructive feedback is given by our experienced trainers and by colleagues on the course.
We also offer training in Learning Action Workshops (LAWs), a technique based on the simple idea that leaders and managers learn best by working together in a group, helping each other to find solutions to real work problems through discussion.
Community of Practice
Organisations, workgroups, teams and individuals find benefit from new ways of working together. Inter-organisational collaboration is increasingly important. Communities of Practice (CoP) provide a new model for connecting people in the spirit of learning, knowledge sharing, and collaboration as well as individual, group, and organisational development including our Support-2-Practice workshops.
We have successfully set up a CoP within several organisations, but greater value can be achieved by sharing with other practitioners from outside the organisation. We currently have three ‘Regional Social Enterprise CoPs’ supported by local Universities, with around 150 attendees. They include participants from public, private and third sector organisations.
The objectives of our CoPs are to ‘make a difference, make it happen and share best practice with fellow improvement practitioners in a safe and enlightened environment’. Many sessions are free to attend and you are most welcome to join us.