Embracing Excellence: British Quality Foundation (BQF) 2025 UK Excellence Awards Now Open!

My journey with the British Quality Foundation (BQF) over the past 18 months has been a wonderful meeting of minds, a true testament to the power of collaboration and continuous improvement. Established in 1993, BQF has been instrumental in recognising and fostering excellence in British business, evolving into a vibrant community of excellence professionals and organisations large and small, all dedicated to driving positive change across industries. BQF, a not-for-profit organisation, is truly the home of UK Excellence, it really doesn’t get any bigger than this! At the core of BQF’s ethos lies inclusivity and collaboration, providing members like myself with invaluable opportunities to connect, learn and grow. From thought-provoking seminars to engaging conferences, BQF has created a platform for us to share best practices and inspire one another in our pursuit of excellence. At the heart of BQF’s endeavours is its Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, who lends her support to the organisation’s mission of excellence. Furthermore, my personal journey with BQF reached an unimagined milestone at the 2025 awards launch on April 17th 2024, held at Mazars Old Baily offices, London, where I was honoured with the accolade of Excellenteer. This recognition underscores BQF’s commitment to acknowledging individuals who advocate for excellence and contribute to the community’s growth. I was totally shocked, and still as I write this cannot believe that this really happened! Central to BQF’s mission is the prestigious UK Excellence Awards programme. The awards are held every 18 months. Why 18 months? Well, this is to allow winners to enjoy being winners of these prestigious awards for as long as possible. The 2023 awards, held at the Hilton London Bankside last October, saw a sold-out event with 500 attendees, highlighting the growing recognition of excellence in UK organisations. Looking ahead, the 2025 awards will be hosted at the home of UK excellence, Wembley Stadium on Thursday, 27th March 2025, and promise to elevate the celebration of excellence to new heights yet again! Entries for the 2025 awards are now open, and are open to all (members and non-members), reflecting BQF’s commitment to inclusivity. Organisations and individuals are invited to showcase their outstanding achievements across a diverse range of categories: Transformation Excellence: Recognizing organisations driving significant operational changes for the benefit of customers and employees. Excellence in Continuous Improvement Culture: Celebrating organisations fostering a culture of ongoing improvement at all levels. Excellence in Collaboration: Highlighting successful collaborations between organisations to achieve remarkable outcomes. Excellence in Customer Experience: Honouring organisations dedicated to enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Excellence in Innovation: Acknowledging organisations pushing the boundaries of innovation and fostering a culture of experimentation. Excellence in Environmental Sustainability: Rewarding organisations committed to creating a sustainable future for the planet. Excellence in Lean Six Sigma: Recognising outstanding projects demonstrating excellence through the Six Sigma methodology. Excellence in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion: Celebrating organisations promoting a culture of equality and inclusion. Excellence in People Engagement and Development: Recognising organisations investing in their people’s growth, development, and well-being. Project Delivery: Commending excellent project management practices and successful outcomes. Being Excellent: Recognising individuals and teams that demonstrate exceptional performance and contribution. Patron’s Award: A special award recognising individuals and organisations making a significant impact on society. Participation in the UK Excellence Awards is open to all, regardless of membership status. BQF’s dedication to inclusivity ensures that every organisation and individual has the opportunity to showcase their achievements and contribute to the community’s collective pursuit of excellence. As BQF continues to champion excellence and drive positive change, I am honoured to be part of a community dedicated to nurturing excellence and shaping the future of UK business. With the 2025 awards on the horizon, anticipation is high for another inspiring celebration of achievement and innovation. If you would like to learn more about the BQF, the UK Excellence Awards and how to enter, visit www.BQF.org.uk To hear more of my ramblings, follow me on LinkedIn – Matt Sims, or check out my Blogs at Blog – Ever-So-Lean (eversolean.com)

Creating a Winning Culture: Where Do We Start?

In the dynamic business landscape, where challenges can be frequent and success is hard-won, we can seek inspiration from some famous examples. Join me on an enlightening journey as we uncover the secrets to crafting a winning culture that fosters excellence, resilience and innovation in our own professional environments. But it’s not just about tangible victories. A winning culture goes beyond the scoreboard or metrics dashboard, driving employee engagement, productivity and profitability. As leaders, it’s imperative to bridge the gap between words and actions, embodying authenticity and integrity in every decision. Drawing from the timeless wisdom of leaders like Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt and Sir Richard Branson, we’ll explore the transformative power of authentic leadership in shaping organisational culture. From setting clear values to empowering people and fostering collaboration, we’ll discover actionable strategies for cultivating a culture of success. Imagine the camaraderie pulsating through the veins of the famous “Class of ’92” at Manchester United football club, each player a thread in the tapestry of greatness. From Beckham’s pinpoint crosses, the tireless work rate of Scholes in midfield, to Giggs’ electrifying runs, their triumphs weren’t merely victories on the pitch but manifestations of a shared ethos, a commitment to excellence, teamwork and unyielding determination. Led by a leader in Sir Alex Ferguson who set clear standards, upheld them, protected his team and coached them with their best interest at the core of his leadership. In the realm of business, emulating such a culture means fostering a sense of purpose, collaboration and a relentless pursuit of excellence. The saga of the New Zealand All Blacks resonates as a testament to the enduring power of a winning culture. With their haka echoing across stadiums and their legacy etched in the annals of history, the All Blacks epitomise resilience and innovation. By embracing change, nurturing talent and constantly pushing the boundaries of possibility, they remain at the vanguard of their sport. Similarly, in the business arena, sustaining success demands adaptability, a thirst for innovation and an unwavering commitment to growth. The dividends of a winning culture extend far beyond the scoreboard. Businesses with a robust culture outpace their rivals, attract top talent and foster a climate ripe for innovation. According to a study conducted by the Great Place to Work Institute in 2020, organisations with a positive culture experience higher levels of employee engagement, productivity and profitability. In essence, a winning culture isn’t just a competitive advantage, it’s the cornerstone of enduring success. In the pursuit of greatness, there are lurking pitfalls that can derail even the most promising vision of a winning culture. A single misstep, and everything we’ve built can come crashing down. We must remain vigilant against the temptation of quick wins that sacrifice long-term sustainability. But perhaps the most crucial action is bridging the gap between our words and our actions. This is where the true essence of our culture lies. I’ve witnessed first-hand the disparity between what leaders say and what they do in organisations. They may speak the right words, like “we’re committed to continuous improvement,” only to backtrack when faced with immediate challenges, saying, “let’s put continuous improvement on hold until next week due to time constraints.” It’s moments like these that shake the foundation of trust and authenticity within an organisation. We must strive for alignment between our words and actions, making our commitment to continuous improvement tangible and unwavering. Only then can we cultivate a culture that is genuine, resilient and truly transformative. For me, above all else it’s about authentic leadership, a beacon that lights the way forward in our modern north star. Authenticity isn’t just a buzzword, it’s the cornerstone of genuine connection and sustained success. It’s about leading with integrity, transparency and empathy, even when the path ahead seems uncertain. As stewards of an organisation’s culture, leaders wield unparalleled influence, shaping destinies and inspiring greatness in those they lead. Consider the legendary Nelson Mandela, whose compassionate leadership united a divided nation and steered South Africa towards reconciliation after years of segregation. Mandela’s gentle yet resolute approach empowered and inspired individuals to rise above their differences and work towards a common goal of unity and equality. Similarly, Eleanor Roosevelt, as the First Lady of the United States, championed human rights and social justice, leaving an indelible mark on history. Her tireless advocacy for marginalised communities empowered countless individuals to speak up and fight for their rights, reshaping the course of American society. Closer to home, let’s reflect on the remarkable achievements of Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group. With his bold and innovative leadership style, Branson transformed Virgin from a small record store into a global conglomerate spanning multiple industries, including music, airlines, telecommunications and space travel. Through his visionary approach, Branson prioritised employee empowerment, customer satisfaction and social responsibility, setting new standards for business success. Branson’s commitment to shaking up traditional industries with disruptive ideas and his unwavering focus on delivering value to customers have inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs worldwide. His adventurous spirit, coupled with a genuine concern for environmental sustainability and social impact, has earned him widespread admiration and respect. Like Mandela and Roosevelt, Branson didn’t simply lead from the top, he led by example, he talks the talk and walks the walk, fostering a culture of innovation, creativity and inclusivity within his organisation. His willingness to take risks, embrace failure as a learning opportunity, and challenge the status quo exemplifies the essence of authentic leadership. As we navigate the complexities of modern leadership, let’s draw inspiration from the pioneering spirit of Sir Richard Branson and other iconic figures. Recognising that true greatness is achieved through bold vision, compassionate leadership, and a steadfast commitment to making a positive difference in the world, we can harness these principles to drive transformation and foster winning cultures within our own organisations. Here’s my top 3 tips for developing a winning culture: Define Values: Establish core values that guide our actions and decisions. Lead Authentically: Lead by example with

Good Leadership: The Negative Brainstorming Approach

Leadership, a term often discussed in the context of its shortcomings rather than its merits, plays a pivotal role in various facets of life—be it in business, politics, or sports. But what exactly is leadership, and how does it manifest itself? Boiling it down, what does good leadership truly look like? To explore this, let’s delve into a valuable tool from Continuous Improvement known as ‘Negative Brainstorming’ or ‘Reverse Brainstorming.’ This technique proves useful when grappling with problems or challenges. By focusing on the negative aspects, it sheds light on the hurdles, aiding a better understanding of what constitutes good leadership. It is, in essence, an exercise in recognizing what poor leadership entails. From my own experiences, poor leadership is unmistakable through certain behaviours. A lack of clear direction, coupled with ineffective communication and excessive control, characterises it. Poor leaders fail to set examples, dismiss innovative ideas and avoid taking responsibility for mistakes. Adaptability issues, favouritism and a lack of empathy further compound the problem, leading to poor decision-making. The most detrimental aspect of poor leadership, however, is the failure to acknowledge and reward the efforts of the team. This behaviour creates a negative work environment, fostering high turnover and low morale, ultimately impacting the overall effectiveness of the organisation. Based on these negatives, what does a good leadership look like then? Good leadership is a nuanced quality often overlooked in discussions. It involves the ability to listen, adapt and nurture the growth of the team. Effective leaders inspire and guide a group of individuals towards shared goals. They make crucial decisions, communicate effectively and empower their team, creating a positive work environment. Having a leadership philosophy proves instrumental in guiding one’s approach to leadership. It provides a clear direction, helps make decisions in line with values and vision and fosters stability and trust within the team. A leadership philosophy is not a rigid framework, it allows for adaptability while inspiring and motivating a team. Importantly, it encourages personal reflection, aiding in continuous improvement. One notable leadership philosophy that aligns closely with efficiency, innovation and team empowerment is ‘Lean Leadership.’ Rooted in Lean Manufacturing principles, it champions collaboration, transparency and adaptability. Lean leadership seeks to eliminate waste, streamline processes and instil a culture of continuous improvement. Lean leadership delivers not only organisational benefits but also significantly impacts individuals within the workforce. Studies show substantial increases in productivity, with organisations adopting Lean practices experiencing a 15-30% boost. Job satisfaction also sees a notable improvement, with teams led by engaged leaders, often associated with Lean principles, reporting 21% higher productivity levels. Additionally, Lean initiatives contribute to a substantial 20-50% reduction in costs for organisations, emphasising the financial and operational advantages. These statistics underscore the tangible and positive effects that Lean leadership brings to both the organisational and individual levels, making it a valuable approach for enhancing efficiency, satisfaction and cost-effectiveness. So, how do you do this? Transitioning to Lean leadership is not an overnight task. It so often encounters resistance, requires effective communication and demands adept change management. Training and coaching play a crucial role in bridging conceptual gaps, preventing the pitfall of fixating on metrics without understanding the underlying principles. From personal experience in a Lean leadership transition, the journey involved challenges but also profound transformations. Embracing the Lean mindset and adjusting my leadership style marked a turning point, bringing tangible changes within my team and across the organisation. It underscores the importance of individual learning and adaptability in driving positive transformations. For me, thinking back many years ago to the start, Lean leadership refined my approach, prioritising collaboration over hierarchy and outcomes over processes. It resulted in improved job satisfaction, morale and increased opportunities for skill development within my team. Stakeholders and customers alike noticed the positive changes, highlighting the transparency and efficiency in operations. This isn’t an isolated case, it’s a common outcome for those adopting a Lean leadership philosophy. In conclusion, Lean leadership is not just a set of guidelines, it’s a transformative mindset that enhances individual well-being and significantly contributes to organisational success. The journey may be challenging, but the rewards in terms of individual effectiveness, productivity, job satisfaction and cost efficiency make it a worthwhile pursuit. Adopting a Lean leadership philosophy is more than a professional shift, it’s a commitment to continuous improvement, collaboration and creating a positive work culture. If you’d like to learn more, or take steps into becoming a Lean leader, visit www.eversolean.com To hear more of my ramblings, follow me on LinkedIn – Matt Sims, or check out my Blogs at Blog – Ever-So-Lean (eversolean.com)