SMAS: embedding a culture of continuous improvement

Posted on 24 Aug 2016 by The Manufacturer

Want to boost productivity and become more competitive? Nick Shields, director of the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS), explains how Scotland’s new Business Improvement Academy can help.

Less than two weeks to go now to our SMAS conference and I’m really looking forward to hearing from some of the manufacturing industry’s most innovative and challenging thought leaders.

Nick Shields, director, the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) at Scottish Enterprise.
Nick Shields, director, the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) at Scottish Enterprise.

The SMAS conference is the only event of its kind in Scotland, bringing together manufacturing professionals, public sector and stakeholders to debate, learn and network.  I look forward to seeing you there.

As I’ve said before, one of the great things about the SMAS conference is that it shows how, no matter what sector you operate in, we can all learn from others’ experience, especially around overcoming challenges.

One common challenge for all manufacturing businesses, and indeed for every organisation, is how to lead and drive your business to continually improve.  So, one of the newest opportunities you’ll hear about at the SMAS conference, is the Business Improvement Academy.

Business Improvement Academy

The Academy helps companies lead and embed a culture of continuous improvement, boost productivity and become more competitive.

So what’s new and different about this approach? What’s really special is that its main focus is the people who work in and for the business. It’s about the delegate, and ensuring that as an individual they have the confidence to lead change and importantly make it last!

SMAS Conference 2016

SMAS’s biennial conference, held on September 7 -8 at the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld, will have a key role to play in supporting the Action Plan.

The highly interactive agenda will mirror the key themes set out in the Plan to give delegates insights; examples; inspiration; tools, and networks to support them to make a productivity step-change in their businesses.

To find out more and register for the event, visit the website

It is this combined approach, taking business improvement tools and techniques together with the vital cultural and behavioural change methodology that is needed to make that change happen.

As well as a focusing on the delegates, the Academy also works with the leaders in the business who absolutely must create that supportive and coaching led structure for their staff.

History, experience and all research tells us that 70% of all change programs will fail – and that this is due primarily to the people factor. This combined approach has been put in to really help cement the change and make it stick.

It’s not for the faint hearted…businesses that go through the Academy sign up to an intensive, 11 day support programme, delivered over a number of months. It mixes workshop learning together with on-site practical coaching and mentoring from the SMAS team, focusing on a business project.

The networks formed help to support delegates into the future and the results really are worth it.

How often have you heard a business leader trot out the old line about the people being their most valuable asset, while their behaviour shows that they’re not maintaining or developing this prize asset very well?

We all know this to be true, but it’s time to really look at how this can be done in a practical way that still meets business needs. The Business Improvement Academy is for manufacturers who get it, who understand that valuable means valuable, not expensive.

For more info:

The next Business Improvement Academy event takes place on September 22, 2016.  Find out more and register here.

To book your place at the 2016 SMAS conference, go to or call 01738 828524. Email: [email protected]