Continuous Improvement – The only true barrier to progress is you

As someone that has been passionately working within the HR/L&D/OD space for only the past 3-4 years, whilst balancing this with a full time international sales role, I have had an amazing opportunity to test and apply my and personal learning , at literally every step of my development, over the past 3 years, in my work and private life.  I thank my employer for this in so many ways:

Throughout this journey of personal and organisational discovery I have learned the following – the below is a mix of employer and wider reflection through industry networking:

  • That the relevance of documented theory in practice is of genuine business value add, if and when senior leadership teams want to listen and when HR/L&D professionals position the message and ensure value add is behind proposals.

I have been on 2 courses with the, both have which have been delivered superbly.Examples I and we have personally implemented include high performance work practices such as job rotation & employee surveys amongst others, OD design models and the importance of conducting learning needs analysis when building our in house development programme, to name but a few


  • That senior leadership teams can really struggle with being humble and that the word “vulnerability” can be seen as a dirty word, the higher up an organisation you go


  • That when senior leaders do start to ‘get it,’ it can transform purpose, innovation,  and performance very quickly


  • That employees lower down the organisation often have the ideas and innovation that could take organisations forward, but that getting that voice heard is not always easy


  • That some 21st century organisations, using our obsession with acronyms like VUCA as an excuse, continue to miss out on easy productivity wins due to the lack of employee focus and voice


  • That some organisations are truly purpose-less. When asked what their purpose is, “to make a profit” is often the reply


  • Importantly for me personally, I have also learned that I need to manage upwards better, that I need to be less impulsive and that not everybody shares a passion for the people and continuous improvement agenda in the same way that I do – all personal development areas that I continue to work on


The above is just a snapshot, but it really focuses and challenges the mind as to why UK productivity is stalling. See

For me personally and this is only my view, there are too many UK organisations trying to operate as if it is still the 1960s-1980s with their inner circles, cloak and dagger HR practices and lack of culture/employee focus. Maybe they are too scared to modernise through fear that they may cease control?  Why do they need control? Helen Amery shared a very interesting article about TEAL organisations, something that I had never heard about until recently (

Linking the two above statements together, IF UK productivity is stalling and IF too many UK organisations are fearful to wake up to 21st century ways of working putting people and continuous improvement at the centre and not at the edge of strategy, will we ever see TEAL organisations becoming the norm?

I believe that we can, but we need to make those that lead organisations also believe.

On that note, see this TED talk by Simon Sinek. If every organisations “why” was to focus on the belief that growth and continuous improvement of their people will lead to increased performance, productivity WILL increase:

Key reflection

Over dinner a few weeks ago, one of my colleagues asked why I had decided to step back, for a few months, from pursuing what is basically my absolute passion and drive i.e. progressing the continuous improvement agenda through and not in spite of people.

Referencing the title of this blog, I and no one else, was holding me back from pushing forward with an area of my life that motivates me and gives me the most purpose.

This motivational clip sums it up really nicely and was one of the things that really reminded me that we as individuals are the ONLY true barrier to achieving what we want from life.

Another was watching “I am not your guru” on Netflix For anyone that is in HR/L&D or just basically loves other human beings, you must watch this documentary.  I was a little sceptical that it would be some mumbo-jumbo over the top motivation piece but it was not.  It was gut wrenching, emotionally draining and inspiring in equal measure.

Moving Forward

Over the past 2 weeks I have been pulling together a proposal to help keep my passion alive, with some great insight and help from, which I hope will allow me to help others and myself keep influencing and promoting the need for continuous improvement of ourselves, our people and our organisations, such that we can reverse this negative UK productivity trend.

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