In the mid-1990s, the BBC broadcast a series of six half-hour programmes entitled Sid’s Heroes. This featured workers from a range of organizations (the “heroes”) who had been challenged to improve the effectiveness of a central aspect of their work, using techniques introduced in two-day workshops by management consultant Sid Joynson. Sid suggested that a 30% increase in productivity was readily achievable in the chosen processes. And, based on the evidence of the shows, his confidence was well-founded.
Sadly, on a couple of occasions, crass comments by managers in response to the workers’ findings undermined the work that had been done. But Sid’s insistence that “the experts” in relation to the work processes were in the room with him, not in the management offices, was well demonstrated. I recall trying to buy a copy of the series from the BBC – on VHS(!) – but it was never made available for purchase.
- A very supportive – if ‘healthily sceptical’, shall we say – MD and management team.
- The star of the show for me, Hannah Garrard, whose latent leadership skills come to the fore during the programme – as she moves from a position of ‘leading cynic’ to prime mover. She’s only visible in the extract as the woman holding the clip board during the Day 2 ‘walking the job’ exercise.
- Sid’s point about the powerful impact of managers’ behaviour – “You’re sending signals like a million memos won’t convey,” he says, in response to the MD’s slightly embarrassed comment that he was “sweating like a pig” after helping to move the machinery into a new, cellular arrangement that his staff had designed in half-an-hour or so.
It looks as though the book that accompanied the series is out of print. But copies can still be obtained via Amazon marketplace.