Made Smarter Leadership Programme

Made Smarter Leadership Programme

A 5-month leadership programme in conjunction with the NW pilot MADE SMARTER. With the pace of change being more intense than ever, this programme is specifically designed for business leaders of manufacturing SMEs wanting to improve their productivity through the adoption of new industrial digital technologies (IDTs).  

About the Programme

This is a historic programme that was subsidised by the Made Smarter pilot between 2019 and 2021. For further information about other business development opportunities please get in touch with us.

The Made Smarter Leadership Programme is designed to provide you with the knowledge and expertise to drive change within your organisation to transition to be a smart manufacturer. It takes a collaboratory approach bringing together a group of SMEs with key stakeholders to enable their vision to occur.

At Lancaster University we are skilled, accomplished and committed to deliver high quality content that challenge new ideas, no matter the format of delivery we implement. From online delivery to face-to-face workshops and company visits, we are committed to creating a safe space for delegates to learn, collaborate and share new ideas.

Discover our testimonials

Made Smarter

Programme Elements

Made Smarter includes two non-consecutive days each month to develop your knowledge and leadership skills. This will be delivered through a range of activity from initial workshops from leading academics from Lancaster University’s Management School, sharing cutting edge research alongside business practitioners. Finally, you will have the chance to create your own ‘sprint’ to test out ideas within your organisation.

The Benefits

The programme will increase your leadership capability and capacity to drive your business through this transformational time to achieve responsible and sustainable growth. You will gain a clear vision and sense of purpose for pursuing smarter manufacturing, as well as having the opportunity to actively experiment and implement IDTs, by working collaboratively in strong and trusting peer networks.

Delegate testimonials

Made Smarter Leadership Programme Develop your strategic thinking to support the adoption of hi-tech and digitally-based manufacturing techniques into your own production processes and learn how to successfully bring employees and other stakeholders along on your digital transformation journey

Arden Dies - Finding the right tools for the future

Arden Dies has been a leader in the die-making and packaging industry in the UK for more than half a century.

Former secondary school art and design teacher Sarah Poynter is the third generation of the family to join the business which was started by her grandfather.

She has been on a steep learning curve since her switch in 2019 and is now Operations Manager for the Engraving division at the Stockport firm.

“There were reservations on both sides as to where and how I would fit into with no manufacturing experience,” Sarah explained. “But as I rotated around the business, assessing the people and production methods, I gained a unique and valuable insight into the company’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Sarah’s fresh perspective identified that while the business is at the forefront of innovation and technology adoption, there is a need to invest in its people and skills.

Sarah saw the Productivity through People (PtP) programme as an opportunity to learn from global manufacturers like BAE Systems, Siemens and Rolls-Royce, and connect with a network of SME manufacturers.

“With little business experience, I was understandably nervous,” Sarah said. “But the residential element was a tremendous icebreaker and established a real openness and trust among the cohort. Everyone had their own strengths, experiences and ideas, and we were encouraged to share at every opportunity.”

Workshops about Lean manufacturing gave Sarah a more technical understanding of modern manufacturing approaches, while mentoring from one of the PtP industrial partners, a highly experienced manager at Rolls-Royce helped her absorb the latest techniques, thinking and research which she is using to make changes at her company.

“Having a dedicated mentor from such a leading organisation as Rolls-Royce and access to such expertise was inspiring,” she said. “A key lesson I took from my mentor early on was that rather than trying to do everything, one change, in a sustainable and measured way, can have a great impact.

“This insight gave me great confidence and the foundation for years of change, not just the immediate future.”

Action Learning sessions, where delegates are challenged to work through real problems in their companies, identified that communication was a weakness at Arden Dies.

By using new tools and leadership behaviours taught through the programme, Sarah was able to introduce two simple changes, to great effect.

The first was to introduce daily meetings for the department heads, something that had never been attempted before. It enabled key staff to share insights and information, celebrate successes and air grievances.

The second change was to introduce visual boards to the factory floor to give all staff visibility of what was happening across the company.

“While they are simple changes, they transformed communication at the company and we saw a definite increase in productivity and engagement,” Sarah said.

Sarah’s new communication strategy was also at the heart of how Arden Dies navigated the impact of Covid-19.

“There was a lot of fear and anxiety over our plans to remain open as an essential business to the food and pharma sectors so we needed to change our management approach from a more formal, authoritative approach to informal, nurturing and transparent,” she said. “So far the feedback from staff has been positive. So that is a change that is here to stay.”

Sarah also found communication and support from the cohort and programme leadership increased when workshop sessions moved online due to Covid-19.

“It was amazing that we were able to switch so effectively and not lose momentum,” she said. “As a business we could have easily gone into a bubble but to be able to access that support and share practice with other businesses and know we had the support of the programme team going through such an uncertain experience was fantastic.”

As a family business Arden Dies faces a unique set of challenges, such as culture, structure, and succession planning. Sarah believes people and skills are key to surviving and thriving.

“The biggest strength of our business is the experience and knowledge of our staff. But the concern is what happens when these people leave. We need to grow, recruit well and not lose the skills.

Arden Dies also shares an industry-wide problem with the gender balance at all levels of the business.

“I’m outnumbered, that’s for certain, but there are signs of change,” Sarah said. “We have some ambitious young women on the shop floor eager to develop. We have to modernise and change the perception to show women belong in manufacturing and can thrive.”

PtP was such a positive experience for Sarah that she has now signed up to the Made Smarter Leadership Programme, which helps leaders in manufacturing SMEs improve productivity through the adoption of new industrial digital technologies (IDTs).

“Every session at PtP I walked away with something I could apply to the business,” she said. “The programme has given me so much confidence in my own abilities. I would recommend anyone, male or female, to explore the programme. If you approach it as I did, with an open mind, the possibilities for you and your business are endless.”

Sarah Poynter, Arden Dies

Forsberg’s Growth Journey with Lancaster University

Chris Mayne is the newly appointed Managing Director of Forsberg Services, the Heysham-based providers of precision Positioning, Navigation and Timing solutions and products, established in 1987. Throughout his 16 years with Forsberg, he says that Lancaster University has helped to guide both his own development and that of the company.

“I achieved a BSc in Telecommunications and then a Master's in Mobile Game Design and M-Commerce at Lancaster University, working two summers at Forsberg as an Engineering Assistant.” Having completed his studies he was offered the position of Software Project Manager, working his way up to General Manager of Engineering, Operations Director, and now, Managing Director.

“With it being a small business, I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to everything from engineering, production, marketing, sales and technical sales to Human Resources (HR).” That meant lots of opportunities, but also a steep learning curve.

Navigating change

“In 2017 I heard about the Productivity through People (PtP) programme offered through Lancaster University Management School (LUMS). It hit at an interesting moment, as I’d been working on employee engagement with our HR team. I joined Cohort 1 and learned a lot about developing workplace strategy.”

“Now, when there’s a challenge we have to overcome as a business, I have a structured approach to do it. As an executive management team we recognised the importance of ensuring that our employees are engaged and empowered to deliver our strategic goals. The drivers for change can be strong but there’s more support for it because we are solving problems as a team.”

A standout feature of PtP was visiting the participating partners, BAE Systems, Siemens and Rolls-Royce. “You’d have a workshop around Transformational Leadership, then go to a best practice company like Siemens to see it in action – it provided real clarity as to how these ideas could be practically implemented.”

Following that, Chris wanted to make the next steps in his Personal Development. “I’d picked up a lot on the academic side from the PtP programme, so I went on to do an MA in Professional Practice (Management and Leadership) at LUMS, which recognised some of the work I’d done through the programme and introduced additional modules I was interested in. Via the MA, I worked on implementing a structured and scalable approach for reporting metrics and KPI execution throughout the business.”

However, the connections were not to end there. LUMS got back in touch to tell him about their 8-month Made Smarter Leadership Programme (MSLP). “I looked into it and went: you know what? Digitalisation is exactly what my next step is going to be, so it makes perfect sense.”

The leadership programme is designed to help SME business leaders drive change within their organisations and transition to being smart manufacturers. “It was a natural progression from the MA,” Chris says. “It enabled me to look at where the value in the business is and develop a strategy for maximising that value through the digitalisation of our processes. In turn, by moving our processes to a digital platform, we would generate more data reported - supporting decision-making across all levels of the business.”

MSLP incorporates a Sprint project that was especially useful to Forsberg. “They gave us the tools and methodology and then we had to implement change within the business, which puts all the learning into practice. In our case it was moving our procurement from a manual process to one that’s automated and integrated with our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Our team implemented the change and this cut our process time from 30 minutes for a purchase order down to about 4 minutes and is freeing up people to do what they do best.”

Chris explains that the ERP system itself marks a further connection with the University. “In 2019 we began working with the EnginE project on higher level skills workforce development, which gave us a ‘Skills Champion Intern’, Joe Dodd, for two months. Joe brought new skills to tackle the integration of our ERP system, working with different departments to roll it out across the business, which he did brilliantly.”

He is clearly impressed with how each of his interactions with the University has worked to complement the others. “They’re all linked. The integration of the ERP system was accelerated through the EnginE involvement. That integration gave us the foundation – which our Made Smarter Sprints are now building on. Our whole digital strategy has come from that platform.”

Forsberg’s Future Development

The future for Forsberg looks bright. During 2019 they increased from 30 to 40 staff and in September moved to larger premises.

“We have a very adoptive and innovative team and we all relish the opportunity to improve,” Chris says. “The programmes I’ve been involved with have helped to build the culture and engagement in the business. It’s all part of the same journey – and it has all come about from talking to the University.”

Chris himself has recently become one of LUMS’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence. Now, having taken the lead on the EnginE project, Forsberg’s Operations Manager Dr Raphael Treffny is beginning his own journey with the University on the Lancashire Forum.

Chris Mayne, Forsberg Services

New digital skills grow North West manufacturing

Find out what our first delegates thought about our Made Smarter Leadership Programme.

Read article

It is a hugely exciting time for the North West, and I believe this is truly a once in a generation opportunity to boost productivity and create the high value, highly paid jobs of the future.

Juergen Maier, Chief Executive Officer, Siemens UK


Business people

Costs & Apply

The programme will cost £2,500 per delegate which has been subsidised by the Made Smarter pilot from a cost of £5000.