A recent article in The Times highlighted the benefits of a new University of Buckingham MSc course designed specifically for public sector managers. ‘A ruthless focus on value for the customer and eradicating unproductive activity’ will be the philosophy of Britain’s first degree in public service reform (11/11/14 by Greg Hurst). The MSc in Continuous Improvement in Public Services is a 24 month part-time course and will partner their well-regarded, long running, MSc in Lean Enterprise. Aimed at middle and senior managers running frontline public services, the course will involve problem solving and service improvement.
There is a great interest in Lean and Continuous Improvement tools and techniques now in the public sector with widespread adoption and adaption into the core functions that deliver our everyday services. Having witnessed the expansion from manufacturing into banking, insurance, utilities and the wider service industry the awareness and implementation of both lean production and lean consumption into the public services was perhaps inevitable.
As with all engineering tools and techniques it is the practical (and sensible) application that makes the difference between success and the failure of what is sometimes seen as just another management fad. The phrase ‘Just because you’ve been trained to use a hammer it doesn’t mean you should hit at everything like it’s a nail’ applies very readily here and there are many public examples of poorly implemented lean initiatives that have been ill thought out and created bad press. The difference between fad and fab is having people experienced with working with the methodologies working closely with those who have the insight and practical subject matter expertise to improve, evolve and adapt processes to ever changing customer demands (albeit the phrase customer can be more complicated in a service environment particularly public services such as healthcare and the prison service).
Fads (a possible acronym for Failed At Delivery!) are far too common in both the corporate and public environments and usually stem from rapid adoption of the next ‘big thing’, a scatter gun approach to training and implementation, unreasonable timelines to achieve significant change (especially in the context of it taking many years of persistent application by those who are truly successful at applying it) lack of reward and recognition for the hard work put in and leadership who only want headlines, executive summaries and quick wins. The leadership element is fundamental to the success in that they need to know about the approaches used, set vision and direction, support and motivate, give permission and protection as well as being a role-model for the change they want to see in their organisation.
This new course is aimed specifically at practicing managers from the public sector with the expectation of sharing their experiences with others and contributing ideas in a dynamic and challenging environment. Participants will learn about continuous improvement integrated with other effective approaches including Lean, Systems Thinking, Theory of Constraints and Six Sigma methodologies. The philosophy is “learning by doing” so problem solving, experimentation and continuous improvement are key parts of the course along with detailed mentoring, feedback, discussion and networking with fellow participant and some of the leading practitioners in the UK.
The course is run in 8 modules (plus a dissertation) that cover the Foundations of CI; Leadership; Quality; Systems Thinking; Service Operations; Demand Capacity and Flow of Services; Management and information Systems; Innovation in New Service Design.
Most modules are designed around real-life situations in service organisations that demonstrate the concepts and theories in action in a hands-on way. A considerable part of the programme is held on-site at service locations. Participants will gain in-depth practical experience through lectures, discussion and by conducting a diagnostic and improvement kaizen that applies the learning outcomes and educational aims to solve real service issues. This blended learning approach of videos, games and real practical investigation, observation and analysis makes the course unique and highly practical for today’s busy aspiring managers.
The first intake for the course is in April 2015 and course costs are £8500 per year, plus travel. The programme will be fully accredited to the Institute of Continuous Improvement in Public Services (ICIPS) and successful graduates will automatically qualify as a Fellow of ICIPS (subject to annual membership fee).
For further details please contact:
Dr Owen Jones
MSc in Continuous Improvement in Public Services