Oct 24

Key activity indicators of successful companies

What makes successful companies different? What a great research question, and one that the University of Strathclyde posited a couple years back. They followed up with 37 companies, in 8 EU countries and gathered over 1,000 stories (interview descriptions of processes and activities).

Catherine Maguire from Strathclyde was presenting their findings. They began with the CIM-OSA model of business processes (one I’m very familiar with as it formed a good chunk of my research career). Turns out my supervisor was on the advisory panel for this work also, small world!

Basically, CIM-OSA identified three key processes that all businesses do: Manage, Operate, and Support. The research focus has been around Operate (and to a lesser extent Support). The research group I was with in Plymouth did most of the early work developing a reference model for the Operate Process. Catherine was looking at the Manage process.

Being a very industry orientated researcher (probably why I wasn’t very good as an academic) I always suspected that the actually process maps were less interesting that the activities and practices they represented. In my own research I concentrated more on these activities and the social systems around them, than the formal modelling (drawing boxes & arrows).

Catherine’s group has now confirmed what we all ‘knew’ but hadn’t ‘proved’. The actual processes in successful companies are the same as for less successful companies. Successful companies are a bit more integrated; the big difference is in the “how”.

Hugh MacLeod from The Hughtrain

Hugh MacLeod from The Hughtrain

Or as the song goes, “It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it”…

There are a hundred+1 jobs to do when you’re running a business, and they’re all important. Fulfilling Orders and Getting Orders (to use process speak) are probably the most important, but I was talking to a HR exec a couple nights ago that insisted that hiring the best people was the most important because they’d then make the business work (might have been a vested interest there).

So where do you start?

The more successful companies were generally more mature in all their Manage activities but Strathclyde did find that there were around 15 activities that seemed to differentiate more successful from less successful companies.

What Catherine’s research has found is that given equal resources, and for their 37 companies, higher maturity in these 15 activities was a reliable indicator of a successful company. Catherine flashed the activities up on screen and they were largely around communication (as I’d expect) but I didn’t get a chance to write them down, hopefully I’ll be able to update this post shortly with that list.

I did ask if they’d looked at how the Manage Processes that these activities represented subsequently interacted with the Operate Processes. From a business change perspective you’re generally presented with a whole load of symptoms operationally and have to analyse your way back to root causes. This research could really help by making explicit some of the implicit links that are learned from practice.

I’m following up with Catherine to see if I can reproduce that list of Activities here together with links to the online tool they’ve developed to help companies self-rate themselves.

Personally I can’t hold 15 things in my head simultaneously; what 5 activities are embedded in your organisation that differenciate you from the competition?

Sep 30

Diving Diseases Research at Dive 2008

I have had the pleasure of working at the ‘Diving Diseases Research Centre’ for more than 9 years.

One of the things that I have been involved in numerous times over that period is staffing the stand at the national dive shows. DDRC’s introduction to the world reads ‘DDRC – Is a charity providing support and education for divers and research into the effects of altered pressure environments on humans. It is one of the UK’s busiest recompression facility, and has seen over fifty diving casualties in the past 12 months. DDRC is able to offer internationally recognised training from diving first aid and oxygen administration to hyperbaric medicine and recompression chamber operation. We will have a team (including me) of helpful and informative staff onsite at the dive show to answer any questions you may have about training, research or the work we do.’

On the day we will have some interesting bits of research for you to get involved in.  Graham Samson will be introducing some of his research, which is going towards a PhD.

I’ll be asking people to judge wither they think a number of factors might cause decompression illness.  It is a simple card sorting task with no hard and fast right or wrong responses just subjective judgements.  If you have the chance to visit us at the NEC that would be great.  If you can’t make it then I know all the researchers at DDRC would love your input, and I know I would appreciate you completing my online survey.

See you on the 1st or 2nd of November at the NEC

or please complete my online survey!

(Opens new window and takes you to SurveyGizmo)

Sep 13

Publications – Just like buses!

Image by Sarge-Jack

Sometimes you can be working on projects for years and you can feel that no substantial outputs are ever going to come from them. Then all of a sudden stuff happens! Sometimes the stuff is further funding, sometimes it is conference abstracts, posters or oral presentations and sometimes you get publications. That is the case here; projects I have been involved with since 2001 have finally got to the point that academic peer review journals are accepting articles for publication.

I have had the good fortune to have four articles accepted so far this year. I have written about the first three and the abstracts can be read in earlier blogs (1 – QoL & Maxillofacial Cancer Patients: 2 – Educational Impact of Pulmonary Rehabilitation: 3 – Personality as a predisposing factor for DCI) on this site and references found on the research page.

The latest article (No. 4) has been accepted for publication in the ‘Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention’ is and entitled:

The prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder in patients undergoing pulmonary rehabilitation and changes in PTSD symptoms following rehabilitation

Authors: Jones, RCM., Harding, SA., Chung, M., & Campbell, J.

Abstract: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common serious condition which, although treatable, is often undetected. We aimed to investigate the prevalence of PTSD in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) referred to pulmonary rehabilitation and the impact of rehabilitation on PTSD symptoms. Design: cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys. Participants: Patients with COPD attending pulmonary rehabilitation programmes in South West England. Outcome measures:The Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale (PDS), Impact of Events scale (IES-R), the incremental shuttle walking test, Medical Outcomes Short Form 12 (SF-12), Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS) and Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire (CRQ-SR). Questionnaires were completed at face to face interviews with participants one week prior to commencing pulmonary rehabilitation and at the end of the programme. 100 participants took part, mean age 68yrs; 65 male. 70% completed the pulmonary rehabilitation programme. Seventy four out of one hundred participants reported traumatic experiences, 37 of which were related to their lung disease. Eight out of 100 participants met diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Participants with PTSD reported worse health status than those without PTSD. After pulmonary rehabilitation, exercise capacity and quality of life scores improved significantly, but PTSD symptom severity did not change. PTSD was present in 8% of COPD patients referred for pulmonary rehabilitation. After rehabilitation, participants with PTSD improved more in respect of anxiety and disease specific health status than those without PTSD. PTSD symptoms did not improve following rehabilitation, despite its positive effects on HADS scores, exercise and health status in this cohort.

Once again I hope you find this of interest and as always please get in touch if you want to discuss or comment about anything in the article.

Aug 27

New Publication – Personality as a predisposing factor for DCI: A pilot study

As you may have read in my short biography (home page), I have had a long interest in the psychology of SCUBA diving. I have undertaken a couple of projects in this area and this is one of those. The work was part of my MSc in Psychological Research Methods, undertaken at the University of Plymouth, and sponsered by the Diving Diseases Research Centre (DDRC).

Krug Chamber at DDRC (www.ddrc.org)

At the time I did not intend to write it up for publication in a peer review journal, but following some positive feedback from Academics, Specalist Diving Physicians and Researchers, and the Editor of a Journal, I grasped the thistle.

Below is the abstract from the article accepted for publication by ‘Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine‘, which is ‘The combined journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society’ and the ‘European Underwater and Baromedical Society’. The paper will be available in the next edition of the journal (October 2008). I hope you find it of interest and I look forward to discussing the work with anyone who wants to get in touch.

Personality as a predisposing factor for DCI: A pilot study

Authors: Sam Harding & Phil Gee

This study aimed to identify differences in personality characteristics related to Decompression Illness (DCI) in recreational SCUBA divers. A matched control group of 9 divers (without DCI) and research group of 9 divers (with DCI) were recruited. Following a chamber dive (control group), or post-treatment for DCI (research group), three psychometric scales; Locus of Control (LoC), Sensation Seeking Scale, and Eysenck’s Personality Questionnaire – Revised (EPQ-R) were administered together with a Diving History Questionnaire and questions on motoring. One significant difference was identified and lay between engine sizes, with those experiencing DCI having cars with larger engines (p < .01). The data were inconsistent with previous research that suggested a relationship between sensation seeking and risk taking. Further research is needed to elucidate the relationship between diving injury and personality.

Aug 11

New publication – Educational Impact of Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Photo by mistersnappy

Photo by mistersnappy

This (below) is the abstract from a piece of research that has taken quite some time to complete, but that is the joy of a multi-centre study.  The paper is available online ahead of hard copy publication.  So please have a read if the abstract is of interest and feel free to ask any questions you like.

Educational impact of pulmonary rehabilitation: Lung Information Needs Questionnaire.

Authors: Jones RC, Wang X, Harding S, Bott J, Hyland M.

Respiratory Research Unit, Peninsula Medical School, Devon, 1 Davy Road, Plymouth PL6 8BX, United Kingdom.

INTRODUCTION: The Lung Information Needs Questionnaire (LINQ) assesses, from the patient’s perspective, their need for education. This questionnaire yields a total score and scores in six domains: disease knowledge, medicine, self-management, smoking, exercise and diet. The aim of this study was to assess the sensitivity of the LINQ to change before and after pulmonary rehabilitation (PR). METHOD: PR programmes across the UK recruited 158 patients (male=94; 59%). The participants completed the LINQ and other measures as used by the individual sites pre- and post-PR, including the Shuttle Walking Test, Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. RESULTS: Data were analysed on 115 patients who completed data collection pre- and post-PR. The LINQ total scores, and subscales scores across all sites improved significantly with large effect sizes, except for the smoking domain as information needs about smoking were well met prior to PR. There were similar patterns of information needs at baseline and after PR in all sites. DISCUSSION: This study shows that the LINQ is a practical tool for detecting areas where patients need education and is sensitive to change after PR. The quality of the education component of PR can be assessed using the LINQ, which could be considered as a routinely collected outcome measure in PR. The LINQ may also be a useful tool for general practitioners to assess their patients’ educational needs.