e-Mail Course

GeniusYou Don’t Have to be a Genius to Master Service Improvement

As are reading this I suspect you are interested in improving your organisation’s performance.

I hope you aren’t looking for theoretical “cleverer-than-you” schemes or a magic silver bullets that includes multiple models, lots of power point and endless analysis.  I’m afraid you won’t find those here.

If, however, you are looking for pragmatic tools that you don’t have to be Einstein to understand or techniques that aren’t as terminally dull as the approaches offered by most “process gurus” then this course could be just the thing for you.

The “Service Improvement for Pragmatic People” free e-learning course

What the course includes:

  • A systematic, simple way to understand and carry out effective service improvement.
  • A clear tutorial approach to the “Squawk Point Method” of improving customer service and reducing cost within your operation.
  • An organised reference guide to the “best of the best” that has appeared on Squawk Point over the years, and how it all fits together.

“Service Improvement for Pragmatic People” is a free 12-part e-learning course and ongoing email newsletter. Subscribe by entering your e-mail address in the box below.


What does the course cover?

The three pillars of service improvement. The contributors to the The Squawk Point have worked in operational improvement for over 40 years.  During that time they have found three themes that keep on reappearing. We created a series that works through these three themes, systematically introducing you to the most important concepts we think every improvement professional must know about.  It’s a 12-part course in Service Improvement that prepares you for the more in-depth newsletter content that follows. These are the keys to improving and developing your service with the “Squawk Point Method”, using everything we’ve learned over the years.

Pillar 1: Operations Analysis

Creating a sound understanding of how your operation is working is fundamental to improving it.  You can’t fix performance if you don’t know what needs to be fixed. The first and most important issue is to create focus, rationalising your activities onto the things that really matter. Once you have that clarity, how do you measure performance within that focus area?  Which of the myriad of key performance indicators really are important?  How do you sort the wheat from the chaff? How do you provide performance information in a clear simple to understand format which delivers unambiguous messages? Finally what can you do to create a repeatable rhythm of conversation about performance and improvement throughout your organisation?

Pillar 2: Process Improvement

Once you understand what the issues are that need to be resolved, how do you fix them?  There is a lot of mystique associated with process improvement, complex theories and language.  The e-learning course will take you through the key concepts and how to apply them without unnecessary jargon and bamboozling terminology. How do you get to have your cake and eat it, creating the “magic” of improved quality and reduced cost? What is the big idea behind Lean Thinking.  How can you explain that simply and use it to improve performance? What was the problem solving technique that NASA used to rescue Apollo 13 and bring the crew home safely? Once you have fixed the process, how do you make sure it stays fixed? The course takes you through the answers to all these issues in a clear and engaging way.

Pillar 3: Employee Engagement

The backbone of any service improvement programme, how do you engage your staff to do what is right for your customers, rather than just turning up to do a 9 to 5 job?  What can you do to unlock the enthusiasm of your staff and engage them in continuous service improvement? Why trust is all important in driving improvement.  What prevents trust from developing in your organisation and how to address lack of trust and suspicion? How targets work, what their impact is on motivation and performance.  What are the negative side effects and how to avoid them? How do you create a virtuous spiral of engagement and improvement so that your staff members actively attack problems in a controlled and sustainable way.

Pulling it all together

Each of these three pillars reinforces the others.  Together, they’re much stronger than they would be if any of the pillars were missing. “Service Improvement for Pragmatic People” is a free 12-part e-learning course and ongoing newsletter that’s delivered via email.  Every week you’ll get a new lesson on one of the three pillars. You’ll get lots of pointers to archived Squawk Point content, but with a new frame that will help you “connect the dots” and start putting this advice to work in your own operation.

What next?

Enter your email address below to sign up for Service Improvement for Pragmatic People:



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  1. Service improvement for pragmatic people has provided me with information on many tools to make me more efficient and accurate at work. The five step to service improvement plan helped me immensely because due to my walking into the shoes of our customers, I was able to figure out a huge discrepancy that helped us to provide better service to our customers.

    I would definitely recommend this to my colleagues, in fact I have already done so, you are doing an amazing job.


    Millicent Hutchinson

  2. I’ve been charged with implementing lean system reviews of services in a local authority after “successfully” implementing a review in my own service – housing. I’ve had no formal training and so am relying on self-teaching, gleaning whatever I can from books and the internet. I’m often only a few days ahead in learning myself before passing that learning onto others.

    The Squawk Point has been a real find. As well as the ‘formal’ system review programme I have a few interested people who just want to start doing this stuff in their work area. I have passed on all of the service improvement programme stuff to them and I am beginning to see them utilise it on a daily basis. One of the problems we face is trying to change from a very structured, controlling (and blaming) culture, to one where people feel able to challenge, question and innovate. We all make mistakes, its how we deal with them that matters. I’d like to see a little more on how to get the really senior managers and politicians engaged with this. In our politicised environment the reason for doing things isn’t always the best business reason. That can cause frustration lower down the structure and lead people to question the validity of what we’re trying to achieve.

    Thanks for your programme, it’s really helping me and my colleagues to question and to see new perspectives.

  3. EMV Testing says:

    Hello James,
    The communication of The Squawk Point is interesting with a good frequency and useful information and I enjoy reading and learning from it.
    Have a nice day.

  4. Mirren Hunter says:

    Hi James,

    Just wanted to say how lucky I was to stumble across your site and how useful it has been. I think it is absolutely wonderful full of easy to digest, sound and amusing advice.

    I discovered Squawk point last autumn when working for a Fire and Rescue authority carrying out some staff engagement and process improvement. The 3 lessons form a Firemen went down really well and hopefully a few of the permanent staff now use Squawk Point.

    I have used one day process mapping sessions in the Fire and Rescue Service and a Housing Association which I did some work for. Getting front line staff participating in these sessions worked really well and produced good workable solutions for improved service delivery.

    Prior to finding Squawk Point I had received quite a bit of LEAN/ Business Improvement training but have found the information on your site probably more useful, certainly more digestible and it makes me smile.

    In my new job, I have given someone earlier this week the link for Squawk Point and have recommend it to people who I think will actually look at it.

    The thing I always find most difficult to deal with in any organisation I have worked for has been change management. I find trying to embed cultural change hugely challenging. Many people pay only lip service to continuous improvement, don’t think of their organisation as a business and certainly don’t empower their staff or value their customers, so I would appreciate advice on cultural change.

    I signed up for the course and I found that basically it reinforced much of what I already new and, as always was full of common sense, almost stating the obvious. It still amazes me how many people have to make things complicated, but maybe they are just plain stupid……

    Many thanks for your fantastic site which I cant praise enough.


  5. Dear James,

    I have just finished reading the entire set and found it really, really useful. I haven’t done the homework yet and if I’m honest (truth) I probably won’t do it all. The articles and examples have really helped me understand some of the stuff I’ve been working with for a few months now. I will use some of the stuff in my improvement work – particularly the engagement with people and the TIMWOODs example was a really good way of explaining something that you can get overcomplicated particularly when trying to relate to health services.

    My particular area of weakness is statistics so I guess more about that would be useful to me, but also about the relationship between reduction in defects = cost savings – even if they are not cashable.

    I will be using your stuff and certainly recommending to colleagues, particularly those involved in the project work I’m embarking on.

    Thank you very much for the free opportunity to study and share. Long may it continue.

    Best regards


  6. Hi James,

    I have recommended your course and blog to lots of my colleagues as I find it very helpful in a number of ways which I will try to describe… At the moment I am going through a black belt LSS certification course which your material compliments nicely as I find you describe things from a more common sense, practical perspective. I also agree with almost everything you write, but find that my organisation is often at odds with these views so the articles provide an ‘impartial’ way of forwarding on best practice to help people see a different viewpoint. In particular I really liked the article about the GE Work Out which I had not heard before and plan to run as lunchtime sessions towards the end of the year; nothing like a lunchtime work out is there?!

    One small point though is that all of the emails get caught in our spam filters requiring me to manually release them all. In some ways this makes the anticipation even greater, but overall it’s a bad thing as I worry others who I recommend to sign up will not be so diligent at releasing them.

    I am very grateful for the time, effort and insight you put into all of your articles/posts and am certainly developing my approach to business in light of them.

    Many thanks,

    Phil Norton

  7. What I like most about your pages and blogs is how you distill all the ideas around lean/6 Sigma/business improvement/continuous improvement into very simple, clear and understandable messages.

    You always come back to the fundamentals that underpin all of these consulting practices.

    I recommended all of your stuff to others and I think you are getting quite a fan base developing.

    You and Dilbert that get me through the working week.

  8. The email course has some topic shattering damn good principles, unfortunately I and all my associates end up filing the email posts in various locations, which dilutes the educational effect. It would be great, if at the end, you will post the links for all lessons in one spot.



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