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The Business Improvement Network

In April 1997 a dozen managers (each from a different organisation) met to find a way to work together to help each other achieve quality improvement. They concluded that, despite differences in size and business sector, they had a lot in common in terms of the challenges they were facing in applying 'quality' thinking.

They decided that there was practical value in sharing information and ideas. They also decided that the forum they preferred was a professionally facilitated one-day Workshop. These decisions set the mould for The Business Improvement Network.

There are two main means by which The Business Improvement Network furthers its aims:

These normally involve 15-20 organisations and are hosted by a Member company. Workshop topics are always set according to priorities determined by Members themselves. Workshops are highly interactive and participative (operating via a mixture of working groups and free discussion).

Free information
The website, as well as publicising the Workshops, also serves as a source of free information for managers on the subject of continual improvement. We are gradually building up a valuable reference library of straightforward information, driven mainly from the practical experience of managers who have figured out how to turn the theories of 'quality' and 'business excellence' into the realities of continually improving business results.

The selection of topics for Workshops (and for the Members' section) is based solely on Members' inputs.

These inputs are collected at the end of every Workshop, as part of the registration process, and (increasingly) by individual telephone calls and e-mails.

You can find here a list of topics covered in the past (many of which will be covered again in the future if the demand is there).

About 400 organisations have taken part since the Network was created in early 1997.

Advanced Training administers and facilitates The Business Improvement Network on behalf of its Members. We do this on a cost recovery (rather than profit generating) basis.

Why do we do this? Leaving aside the obvious answer that we do it because we are mad, the two reasons for our support of the Network are:

Public service
We strongly believe that the principles and tools of 'quality' and 'business excellence' are inefficiently, and often ineffectively, applied. The promised benefits are lost in a fog of jargon and empty phrases and are made difficult to attain by an emphasis on models and badges rather than on straightforward good practice.

We have, as managers ourselves, experienced the unfortunate results of this state of affairs and we are totally committed to promoting a better way of doing things.

Long term relationships
Although we make no money on the Network itself, Advanced Training is a commercial organisation. The exposure we get in running Network Workshops will allow Members to form opinions on whether or not they like our better way of doing things, our style and our methods. If they do, we may be fortunate enough that they choose to consider us when they need help with in-house business improvement training and consultancy, which is our main business.

That being said, you will find no selling carried out in the Network Workshops - we are all far too busy ensuring each event is a success!

The following are the main indicators of the success of The Business Improvement Network in promoting new ways of looking at 'quality', business excellence and continuous improvement:

People come back Almost all Workshop participants tell us that they would like to attend another Workshop (and many have already done so).

Perceived value There is an increasing number of reports from Members of practical value gained as a result of Workshop participation.

Official recognition Insight from Network Workshops has resulted in our developing innovative new events:

For the Institute of Management (now the Chartered Management Institute) : courses for senior managers called Creating a Climate of Continual Improvement and Application of the Business Excellence Model.

For The Management Unit of The University of Reading: a series of workshops, oriented to continual Improvement, for quality managers and other senior people.

Also, the Institute of Quality Assurance has decided to offer Business Improvement Network Workshops as part of their service to their Corporate and individual clients.

Simple. There is no fee. Just register and you will be given access to the Members' part of this site. Plus you will get regular updates by e-mail on Workshops and other events.

All that is asked of Members is that they:

show a willingness to share their experiences freely (except, of course, where commercial considerations apply) in order to allow others to benefit from insights into what works well and what works less well
keep an open mind to the possibility of learning from other organisations' ideas and approaches.
treat as confidential any insights gained via the Network.

Finally, you will be interested to read a few of the feedback comments we have received from Members.

Jim Wade
tel: 0118 987 5120
fax: 0118 987 2683
mob: 077 88 6666 08
email: jim@bin.co.uk
web: www.bin.co.uk

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