Dick Elsy, from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, was recently interviewed on the BBC Today programme. He has been leading the consortium of businesses producing ventilators for our hospitals and reported a huge output increase from 50 machines per week to 1500.
Dick reflected on the lessons learned as the engineers came together, working innovatively for up to 20 hours per day, and eliminating ‘noise and waste’. Meetings have been 15 minutes long and highly focused. We all need to observe and consider how we adopt them.
More broadly, have you noticed how the true experts such as scientists, medical professionals and engineers have been impressive. They actually have answered questions, explained the issues and the context, and re-assured with their competence even if they aren’t media trained (perhaps because of it). Contrast that with politicians ‘working round the clock’, ‘working night and day’, ‘working in unprecedented times’ and ‘doing our best’.
This is a critical time and we must have people working very hard, but that is the minimum standard. When I create assessments, the first criterion is hardworking. It allows the manager carrying out the appraisal to say the person does get ‘stuck in’. However, the differentiating criteria are creativity, quality awareness, delivery, leadership, communications, and numerous others.
Politicians are, in the main, bright (we all know of exceptions) but scared of going off-script. They go for the lowest common denominator, assuming the general population has become used to being patronised and accepting of simple mantra.
To see a great example of straightforward excellence, take a look at the Andrew Marr interview with Professor Sarah Gilbert from Oxford University.