The Traditional New Year Message

What is it about January that inspires people to make resolutions? The first month of the year is named after Janus – the Roman god of beginnings and transitions – and when combined with the excesses of the festive period, this triggers all kinds of resolutions; some personal, some professional, most abandoned after a few days or weeks.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for self-improvement I just find it strange that people need a new calendar year to start that process. The notion of one big action and all will be right strikes me as a short term viewpoint; although it’s certainly an effective way of kick-starting a long term campaign. That’s why I sometimes go a month without bread or beer (which is basically drinking bread). There will be a short term benefit but the longer term benefit is to make better decisions and eat and drink better quality food. The same is true of exercise. I am pretty good at keeping fit but there are times when I need to give my fitness levels a boost. For example during the week after Christmas I went on three longish runs and then a timed 5k Parkrun. That way I could measure how my fitness compared to what I consider acceptable (about 25 seconds too slow if you’re interested). Now that I have (almost) regained my fitness and got my body used to working out regularly again, I’ll look to improve this gradually with regular but less frequent exercise.

What’s all this got to do with work and Public-i? Throughout my career I have been guided by the Japanese concept of kaizen, or continuous improvement. This philosophy espouses that a series of small improvements is more effective and sustainable than one big change. By the way, let’s not confuse this with the good that can come out of a large and disruptive change. Quite often an improvement activity will start with baseline measurements (after all, how can you know you’re improving if you don’t measure?), a period of intensive activity, more measurements and then a series of small improvements accompanied by ongoing measurements. Not so different is it really?

Well there is one key difference – the date. At Public-i we have a series of ongoing improvement activities and we didn’t wait until January to start them. So the exciting thing about 2016 isn’t that we will be making resolutions to do things differently, but that we will start to harvest the fruits of the hard work we have already put in.

Personally I am pleased with the improvements we have made already, but what excites me more is how these improvements will result in even better performance and customer satisfaction.

One area we have been focusing on is Customer Service. Last year we increased the size of our help desk to manage day to day issues as well as our Technical team to offer better field support and maintenance programmes. We had a big drive on getting up to date and are now at the incremental improvement phase. This is one part of business where standing still is definitely moving backwards!

We held one national and two regional User Groups in 2015 and intend to continue that in 2016 with three planned already. Public-i has a fantastic family of customers and this makes us unique as a digital streamer of public meetings. These sessions not only foster this sense of community but also allows us to find out exactly what the customer needs, wants and would like. We are looking forward to these events this year.

Of course it’s not all about work, and I am really looking forward to the charity work we will be doing this year. The MacMillan cake sales are always popular but I think our best effort of 2015 was the Row-a-Thon for Children in Need which raised over £600. I await the next sporting challenge to be thrown at my feet; it’s tough being the one everybody wants to beat but fortunately I am quite competitive – bring it on!

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