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Water, water everywhere and I must drink it all

September, 12 2022

Unaccustomed as I am to drinking pints in front of delegates... 

I agreed to be a speaker at the Operational Excellence & Business Improvement Conference 2022. I wasn't asked, mind you, I paid for the pleasure.  And with that, two questions came to mind:

  1. What the hell am I going to talk about?
  2. And how far can I push the boat out?

As always, I agreed some weeks in advance to the conference and then turned back to business as usual, firefighting, proposals, bit of coaching, expos (aaargh).  It's only when we are on the flight home from Johannesburg expo that I turn to Adam, the super-jet young rocket, and ask how we can open my speech with something visual and attention grabbing.  At this point, I have to say that we were not following good advice to travellers.  We were a couple of margaritas down in the lounge and there may have been a sneaky post-take-off G&T. We were celebrating; the expo had gone exceptionally well.  We hit on an idea, why not demonstrate the drumbeat for  ideas generation in Toyota group to illustrate how intense it really is.  Great idea!  So it seemed.  Until we landed.

We arrive at Heathrow and  need to hydrate.  I know coffees don't count but it was the only place I was prepared to start.  Water comes a distant second.  Something about its lack of taste or its purity that makes me shun the stuff.  When I watch people chugging it throughout the day I'm filled with admiration and resentment at the same time.  Anyway, different topic.  We'll be fighting wars over this stuff soon enough.  Oops, that's another topic.  So hydrate we do.  Two flat whites at Cafe Nero and some flavoured water.  Adam is on the pure stuff.

We finally get to the event and I'm on in an hour.  The opener we concocted on the plane is to neck a pint of water in front of the delegates and explain 60 ideas would have been generated by the big red T company in that time.  And finally, to ram home the drumbeat, I'll neck some shots of water to a one second takt.  

op-ex conference 2022

By the time I reach the stage, let's just say that I realise I'm fully hydrated.  I mean, fully hydrated.  I've walked on stage with a rapidly approaching full bladder.  I'm stuck now.  I've got to drink about two pints of water in the next three minutes.  Thank the gods I've only got a 15 minute slot. 

po-ex 2022 Mark Radley giving talk in Continuous Improvement

It all seems to land well.  The impact is there for all to see. But all I can think about is how to get through the next 11 minutes without having an accident.  I walk the stage as movement seems to help.  But it's not a normal walk.  It looks like I have stomach cramps or a twitchy leg. The ministry of funny walks coming soon to a stage near you.

op-ex 2022 Mark Radley giving talk in Continuous Improvement

Then, when I still have quite a bit to say, I'm given a 30 second warning by the facilitator.  I can't believe it.  I'm relieved as my torture is soon to be over, but my impact summary is now being delivered at top speed.  I have no powerpoint slides, just Adam sketching on a projected ipad.  He couldn't keep up and was scrawling across the page (see below) as if a spider had dipped its feet in the ink well.  Too late now, focus on getting through this.  Images of running taps and waterfalls are front and centre. 

Job done.  Ungraceful walk off stage. Sprint to the gents.

Lessons Learned

Be prepared.  Don't leave things to the last minute.  Mwhahaha....

Never perform the water trick on a full bladder

Don't listen to super-jets on long flights.

Adam's Sketch

If it makes no sense, don't blame Adam.  We can happily explain our CI wheel but preferably with no water in reach.

CI Wheel

To learn more about our software and how it can support Continuous Improvement see below:

GEN-OPS1 - SaaS platform for building and governing brilliant standards. Looking after the full cycle of a standard from cradle to grave and tracking competency.

TEMPO - optimising maintenance and long cycle work

my-CI - a mobile app for leaders to drive Continuous Improvement 

Director and Founder
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