Productivity Through People

Productivity Through People

A ten-month programme in partnership with three world class manufacturers; BAE Systems, Siemens and Rolls-Royce, designed to support and invest in the manufacturers of tomorrow. Gain access to the latest techniques, thinking and research to transform your productivity and working practices.

About the Programme

You'll begin with a residential induction, which is a two-day overnight event made up of leadership exercises, focused discussions and peer-to-peer learning. Stepping outside of your workplace, you'll be encouraged to think about your business differently and reflect on your current practices. This experience is designed to develop trust amongst the participants, breaking down the barriers to learning and providing opportunities to connect your new knowledge to real-life situations.

Following this, you'll participate in a series of elements to develop your knowledge and skills as well as an unparalleled opportunity to meet key people from leading UK organisations where excellence in productivity lies at the heart of business. You will have access to gold standard manufacturing organisations including BAE Systems, Siemens and Rolls-Royce.  These companies will demonstrate how they have transformed their workplace by putting employee engagement at the very centre of their improvement processes.

Next Programme Start: Contact us for more information

Printed Cup case study

Arden Dies case study

PTP Partner Logos

Programme Elements

The Productivity Through People Programme includes two non-consecutive days away from the workplace every month. You'll participate in a range of challenges, workshops and tasks to develop the tools and techniques to transform your productivity and working practices, and the focus on practical learning means there are no formal assessments. You may need to do some pre-reading, and you'll be expected to contribute via the online forum. 

Get in touch

To discover more about the Productivity Through People programme, and how it could transform your organisation, please complete our enquiry form and we'll be in touch shortly.

The Benefits

This programme will help you to empower and engage front line staff leading to better usage of skills and abilities, transforming management practices and developing leadership skills.You will develop a support network of other SME owner/managers to build a more productive future together, and the exposure to world-class manufacturing environments will enable you to formulate high-performance workplace strategies.

Printed Cup Company - Racing away from the competition

Clitheroe-based Printed Cup Company are the experts in bespoke, recyclable printed paper cups. They are the fastest manufacturer of printed cups in the world, designing and dispatching in under 24 hours.

Following her promotion to Operations Director, Sarah Emery wanted to look at the company’s manufacturing processes. Having previously participated in a LUMS leadership programme, Sarah was introduced to the Productivity through People programme. “I wanted to find out how to take my company to the next level” and this programme was just right, with its emphasis on learning in different settings and from industry, academics and fellow delegates, it seemed like the natural progression.

“I had no preconceived ideas about what I wanted to get out of the programme and went in with an open mind. I soon realised there were some key changes we needed to make in the business – such as recording and reducing waste. ‘’I knew the best way to do this was to engage the staff on the shop floor, who are after all the experts and look at the best ways to get everyone on board with doings things differently.’’

Being on Productivity through People has transformed how Sarah sees her business, recognising that making specific, complementary changes to working practices can have major business impacts. For example, following her time on the programme, Sarah set up a regular series of operations management meetings to ensure that no issues get put on hold and that a wider range of colleagues can share knowledge and ideas.

The site visits to large businesses have also inspired Sarah to see how large firm productivity practices can be applied to smaller business. The involvement of the three world leading industry partners was a key attraction, she says. “Seeing how these global companies like Siemens, Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems want to support SMEs was truly inspirational. Even though our businesses are world’s apart, I’ve learnt more from them than I could possibly have imagined. The mentoring they provided during the programme has given me huge confidence for the future of my business.”

Sarah has now introduced ways of more accurately measuring and analysing production output, capacity and machine utilisation rates. This has enabled the company to more effectively assess its capacity to meet future orders and to identify capital investment requirements. Sarah has also created a “capacity board”, highlighting areas of high and low productivity. All of this has helped her to identify how to increase productivity as well as optimum staffing levels and training needs.

The programme has also helped to increase  Sarah’s ambitions for the business. She has identified some 20 further changes she wants to make to drive the business forward in the longer term and regularly refers to the programme delegate pack to inform her thinking on the changes needed and how to implement them.

In making the changes to her business, Sarah has put into practice the principles embedded throughout the programme, in particular the opportunities for her and her colleagues to learn from other people’s experiences, making them receptive to new ways of working. She adds the peer network is a real lasting benefit. “You get access to 15-20 companies in the North West who are willing to share a wealth of experience. Its incredible how much you get out of it.” Sarah continues to bounce ideas with fellow delegates.

Taking part in the programme has also opened doors to the range of skills and expertise that exists across the wider university. Sarah has worked with the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation to design a product development Masters programme and has successfully recruited a student to work with her to design and develop fully recyclable single-use coffee cups.

Having made improvements to processes and boosted cost efficiency, Printed Cup Company is now better equipped to face future challenges. “Productivity through People just landed at the perfect time for us – I’d strongly recommend it to any manufacturing business.”

Printed Cup Company

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
Business people

"It’s not that people are our best asset – it’s that at the end of the day they are any organisation’s only asset. Engaging employees in the mission and purpose of the company, and really empowering them to do the job as effectively as possible, lies at the heart of successful organisations.” 

Nigel Whitehead, Chief Technology Officer, BAE Systems


Costs & Apply

This programme has received significant investment from the industrial partners, both in its design and finance. As a result the subsidised cost of this programme is £2,500 per delegate. For more details or to join our next programme, please get in touch with us before completing an Application Form.




Our Partners

The Productivity Through People programme is proud to have investment partners in Lancaster University and Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, and work with the Northwest Aerospace Alliance.

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