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Continuous Improvement: Kirkham event November 2014

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JackieSI work in an area of expertise called Continuous Improvement. There are many names for it in our different departments, including Lean, PaceSetter and Adding Value. But it means the same thing - finding ways to work better and smarter, cutting out waste and duplication.

I've led our Civil Service Local Continuous Improvement Network in the north west for 3 years now. In that time, we’ve arranged more than 12 cross department visits and projects and we’ve held 3 Continuous Improvement Events. Our aim is to support Civil Service Reform through sharing our skills, knowledge and experience of Continuous Improvement across Government, preventing the need for external consultants.

Our events are aimed at colleagues who work in this area of expertise, and I'm glad to say that the last event we held was a fantastic example of true collaboration from start to finish.

On 4 November, 86 people from 11 different departments met in a rather chilly room in Kirkham Prison to network and share experience and skills.

Our hosts for the day, Hazel from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Edna from Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) did an excellent job of making sure the day ran on time, despite the lack of microphones in a very large room of keen - and somewhat noisy guests. Becky from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Michelle from HMRC were our planning experts, arranging seating plans, hand-outs and coping with all the last minute changes.

We enjoyed presentations about Copyright, Parliament and the Civil Service Local Academy, providing insight into some things than many of us had never thought of before. I certainly won’t be using certain  clips in PowerPoint presentations from now on and I now even know who is allowed to drink alcohol in the House of Commons. The Networking session, ran by DWP, collected so many offers of support we ran out of post-its!

Our market stall approach to learning, covered topics including 7 Quality Control Tools, Customer Journey Mapping and Visual Management. The feedback was positive, with comments like "this will be a valuable tool that I can use in my future work’.

I was very fortunate to attend the event at Kirkham.  It was very well organised and there was an enormous amount of energy in the room, with delegates eager to learn from each other and to share their own experiences and good practice. It re-enforced my view that we have a huge number of talented people in the Civil Service and that getting people out of their departmental silos is vital if we are to make the most of the expertise we have.  I would encourage everyone who works in continuous improvement to support and use this network.

Leo Castledine, Head of Civil Service Local


At the end of the day we asked people how much learning they'd received from the day – the average response was 5 hours. Not bad for a 7 hour event with a 45 minute lunch break, and it was all for free.

My favourite piece of feedback on the day was ‘Very worthwhile use of my time, wish I’d been to the previous 2 events’. So, I believe we must be doing something right and we've already started to plan for our next event for Spring/Summer 2015.  If you’d like to attend or help us deliver the next event, please get in touch by e-mailing me. Thanks.


Jackie Southcombe

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