St George’s Day is an increasingly special day for people. And good to see that celebrations are on the rise in Nottingham Market Square at least, which boasts the largest flag in the country

It’s also the day that Shakespeare was born. And the day he died exactly 400 years ago.

Just an ordinary day?

The celebrations this weekend remind me of a very memorable St George’s day in 1998.  Around that time, I was focussing on my Benchmarking project, one of several modules leading to my Masters degree at Nottingham Trent University. I was living in a bubble of academia mixed with the hands-on conversion of a dilapidated, yet enchanting 1904 semi- in north Nottingham. At the time St George’s Day wasn’t so well publicised. In fact, it wasn’t until after the 23rd April that I even realised it had been and gone.

I had a clear plan of action to complete my module on time, I’m disciplined and organised when needed. I even planned out a couple of weeks in early April to attend an imminent hospital appointment, which put me out of action for a little while. Inevitably, the appointment was postponed and I welcomed the additional time to complete my Benchmarking module!

 What happened next

So the Benchmarking project and St George’s day weren’t particularly on my radar that year, however I was asked to lead a follow-up visit to Swedish Customs & Excise on the strength of this project.

Business Excellence Model

At the time I was working as a civil servant reviewing how the Business Excellence or EFQM model could be aligned with business planning and strategy. I’d discovered that Swedish Customs & Excise had developed a TIPs model  – Total Integrated Planning and Steering model. It was well ahead of its time as EFQM assessment checks were led by strategic business planning. This was because the assessment process started at the right hand side of the model (above). The traditional approach was to assess the ‘EFQM boxes from left to right, so that business results were assessed last.

Back in my role as an internal Continuous Improvement consultant, I influenced and re-designed our EFQM strategy to also start with business results, and work right to left. We developed a pragmatic training programme for 200 EFQM coordinators across the Department. My approach was mandated and the benefits were immense. It led to a complete overhaul of the way we ‘did’ quality and paved the way for the introduction of Lean management. I’d accomplished something significant in my career.

What made it extra-special in 1998

So, 1998 was a really rewarding time in my career. However it was a very significant year from a personal point of view too. More accurately, 23rd April was a very significant day. Earlier I mentioned my hospital appointment was postponed from early April. My beautiful daughter, Sophie, was born two weeks overdue, on that very memorable St George’s day in 1998.

Sophie at 18

Happy 18th birthday my darling daughter xx

Update – 20 today! 


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