11th Annual UIMPROVE Conference

The 11th Annual UIMPROVE Conference was held on 8-9 May 2017. Below you will find videos of the speakers from the event.

Keynote Speaker - Claire McGonigle, Chief Executive, Action

Our Keynote Speaker for 2017 was Claire McGonigle, Chief Executive at Action - a charity and housing provider which provides a range of specialist services for vulnerable individuals and families, enabling them to establish and maintain a home.

Claire has been Chief Executive at Action for just over 4 years. When she first came into post her sole priority was to keep the organisation solvent, requiring her to make some difficult decisions about the services Action could offer. Since then, Claire has continued to steer the organisation through a squeezed environment of disappearing funding, often having to make further choices between service delivery and other essential functions.

However, despite operating in this landscape, Claire is a Chief Executive who has put HOPE at the heart of the organisation's agenda - with an emphasis for Action's clients on Homes, Opportunity, Pride and Employability. Her priority now has moved beyond simply remaining solvent, to developing the organisation to a standard where it can offer the best possible services to its clients.

In her Keynote Speech, Claire talks the audience through her eclectic career and the unique set of services that Action provides. She then finishes her session with an inspiring Question and Answer Session, where the audience quizzes her about the lessons she's learned along the way and the aspirations she has for Action's future.

Luke Bodin, MKH Rail

Luke first trained as a Facilitator in 2016, and he has applied his energy and enthusiasm for UIMPROVE to his other main passion: the railway. As a consultant for MKH Rail, he has brought together a wide variety of stakeholders to deliver high-profile public transport projects across the West Midlands.

In this lively presentation, he talks us through his journey so far, reasons to visit Dudley and why everyone needs a UIMPROVE spa day.

Sam Granger, Sarah Minns and Kathryn Whittle - Thirteen Group

Sam, Sarah and Kathryn are three individuals who have shown that tenacity is the name of the game when it comes to improvement. Thirteen Group, the largest provider of social housing in north-east England, is an organisation with big ambitions and our speakers have successfully embedded UIMPROVE 'from the middle' to try and help senior managers take control of their projects and build a stronger business.

Steve Jennings, Chief Executive, Weaver Vale Housing Trust

Those of you who read our Yearbooks will be familiar with this inspirational leader and his UIMPROVE journey at Weaver Vale Housing Trust over the last decade. When Steve first joined Weaver Vale, he entered an organisation in an untenable position. It was under 'supervision' by the housing regulator and there was a dire need to undertake a significant overhaul of the organisation's structure and leadership.

Fast forward 14 years and the organisation has completely transformed. Customer satisfaction has been maintained at over 90% for the last 5 years, Weaver Vale Housing consistently ranks highly in the Sunday Times top 100 employers and Steve himself was recognised as the most Inspirational Leader in the 2016 Housing Heroes Awards.

Last year Steve announced his retirement which took effect in June 2017. Before he left the building, we asked him to reflect on his experience at Weaver Vale just one more time and to share with us his approach to the challenge of retirement.

Andrew Forrest, Executive Director, Great Yarmouth Community Trust

Andrew is always both informative and entertaining every time he presents at the UIMPROVE Conference and this year was no different. Having attended Universal Leadership Skills for the third time in 10 years, we were curious to know what benefits Andrew found in attending the same course multiple times.

Here, Andrew talks us through the reasons he attended each course, the different moments of enlightenment he experienced, and how this has helped him to continue to deliver the crucial services his organisation provides to the people of Great Yarmouth.

Henry Neave

Henry will need little introduction to those of you who have watched last year's conference videos, or who were lucky enough to meet him in person in 2016.

Henry has been working with the UIC since May 2017 to produce 12 Days to Deming, a comprehensive active-learning course designed for anyone who is interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of the work and philosophy of Dr W Edwards Deming. In his presentation, Henry gives us an overview of the key elements of the course and tells us why even complete newcomers should have nothing to worry about when getting on-board and getting to grips with the founding father of quality.

Note - this video is not for the first-time viewer. A good understanding of the structure of 12 Days to Deming is required and we suggest novices watch Henry present at the 2016 UIMPROVE Conference.

Balaji Reddie

Balaji won the award for distance travelled to this year's conference, having flown in all the way from Mumbai, India, to tell us about his lifetime commitment to quality and the work of Dr Deming, and in particular the special friendship he has developed with Henry over the years.

As founder of the Deming Forum (India), Balaji has introduced thousands of students of quality to the work of Dr Deming, supported by Henry as his mentor. Watch the video below to hear direct from one of the main contributors to 12 Days to Deming.

Fiona Wilkie

Fiona is an aficionado when it comes to practical application of improvement theory to the real-life running of an organisation. As a former senior manager and Managing Director of Beechwood and Ballatyne Housing Association, she has a history of bringing the right people together to make change happen and deliver positive outcomes for customers.

Fiona is one of the first graduates of 12 Days to Deming, having completed a first draft of the course in autumn 2016. Here she talks us through her learning journey, some of her Damascene moments, and her key messages for anyone serious about bringing the Deming philosophy into their organisations.

Tracey Johnson and Trish Roberts, The Aspire Group

When Tracey took up post as Executive Director of Corporate Services at The Aspire Group, she made the decision to consult with her staff right from the start on whether UIMPROVE was the right improvement framework for them. Thankfully people liked what they saw, so much so that it is now now "just the way they do business".

One advocate of the approach is Trish Roberts, a Facilitator who has used her skills and abilities to involve residents directly in local decision-making. Using Sneydlands Community Living as her case study, she has given residents a renewed voice in saying how they want their homes and gardens to be managed. This is a heartfelt and inspiring presentation for anyone who wants to see just what an impact getting improvement right can have on 'real' people.

Natalie Marsh, South Yorkshire Housing Association

It was truly refreshing to hear from Natalie about a part of the project lifecycle that organisations can all-too easily overlook - piloting. In this fascinating presentation on the Wiki-House Project, Natalie talks us through the processes SYHA have followed as one of the pilot schemes for this highly innovative open source programme for property development, aimed at reducing costs and enabling housing organisations to build more sustainable homes. She also reminds us that it's okay not have all the answers straightaway - as long as you are asking the right questions.

Jacqui Atkinson and Jo Cartwright, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust

Jacqui and Jo work within West Midlands Rehabilitation Services, providing vital support to people who have been affected by injury or ill-health in a way that impairs their day-to-day living. Their unshakable commitment to improvement as weathered the test of seemingly endless NHS funding cuts and their work has remained at the forefront of rehabilitative tools and technologies.

Their presentation draws on the Key Concepts and demonstrates just how straightforward it is to bring improvement philosophy to life through good strategy and steering.

Mike Davidge, NHS Elect

Mike has a terrific skill in presenting theories and concepts in a style that makes it easy and enjoyable for the rest of us mere mortals to grasp. With his usual style of incorporating some fun audience participation Mike demonstrates the importance of piloting a project and The Shewhart Cycle as a change management tool...using Mr Potato Head.

Richard Capper, The Universal Improvement Company

2017 marked 25 years since the birth of Profoundly Whitelodge. Some of you might see the correlation between Dr Deming and Twin Peaks and draw some meaning from this abstract name. Thankfully for the rest of us, Richard and then business partner John MackMersh soon changed the name to The Universal Improvement Company.

In his 2017 conference presentation, Richard shared the lessons and insights he has collected from 25 years of leading the UIC. Richard's number one lesson affirms Dr Deming's views on the connection between leadership and quality while his other insights range broadly from the importance of celebratory cake through to his views on what the next 25 years of the UIC might look like.

Photo gallery


The Aspire Group

Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust

Blackpool Transport

Caledonian Sleeper

London Midland

Carillion plc and ConsultJMM

The Deming Forum (India)

HWA Associates

Lou Tribus

Fife Council

Great Yarmouth Community Trust

MKH Rail

Henry Neave

One Manchester

The Regenda Group

South Yorkshire Housing Association

Thirteen Group

Weaver Vale Housing Trust

Pub Quiz - winning team


Click to see
photos and videos
from previous years