• Bridging the Gap Between the Strategic Vision and the Journey of CI

Bridging the Gap Between the Strategic Vision and the Journey of CI


Prof. Jiju Antony, Professor of Quality Management and LSS master Black Belt, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Co-Presenter: Bryan Rodgers, Assistant Professor in Management, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Campus, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK


Lean Six Sigma, Sustainability, Emergency Services, Strategic Leadership, Organisational Culture





The critical success factors for successful implementation include leadership commitment and integration of the Continuous Improvement (CI) initiative into corporate strategy and performance documentation. However, changing organisational culture in order to embed and sustain CI requires much more pro-active and detailed work which goes beyond the critical success factors.

This presentation is drawn from the initial findings of 25 interviews with executive leaders and a survey response of over 300 staff members at various levels from the national Police, Fire and Rescue and Ambulance Services in Scotland, UK. The interviews with senior executives explore their vision and understanding of CI and the way in which it operates in their respective organisations and organisational cultures.

The research recognises the context of reductions of public sector budgets and the pressure to achieve short term savings which can distract the strategic leaders from focussing on culture change and involving both service users and the public in the design of public services and argues that there is a need to better balance quick wins with long term gains.

The analysis of interviews and survey data highlighted that executive leaders see CI as absolutely core to their operation as an organisation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they lead such initiatives in diverse ways and from different perspectives. There is strong agreement that CI is of intrinsic importance to the way in which their organisation works but there is less evidence of how the importance is made more explicit and supported through a clear CI strategy or roadmap as to how change will be delivered. The interviews additionally evidence a need to distinguish between radical improvements and CI within the services.

Beyond the clear need for a practical model which supports the development of a roadmap to move from vision to sustained culture change in any organisation, this presentation also explores the strategic nervousness about committing to specific methodologies in order to deliver improvements. Finally, the need to break down silos between public services is also explored.

The learning from this presentation is not simply for public sector organisations as many different industry sectors sub-contract to government agencies or supply services to government agencies.

Key learning points for attendees to take from the presentation include:

1 – There is currently a conspicuous gap between the vision of public sector leaders and their roadmap to success for CI initiatives. This presentation details how this gap can be bridged through a model which supports the development of a roadmap.

2- Culture change is challenging, and strategic statements are only the beginning of the leadership driving that change. This presentation will provide practical tips on avoiding costly mistakes which lead to early failure of CI initiatives.

3- The emergency services specifically and the public sector more generally still experience a gap between public satisfaction and the voice of the customer, again this presentation explores practical opportunities in which this could be refocussed in order to bridge the gap.

4- There remains a clear challenge of defining CI initiatives and the associated projects as distinct from radical improvement projects and planning as to how each operate successfully in a single organisation. This presentation will detail the differences and provide clear direction on embedding continuous improvement distinct from major change projects which will support cultural change in organisations.