Monthly Archives: January 2011

Reflections on making better use of our time and resources

May 2010

Simplifying and streamlining the way teams work is one of the 4 areas that Elisabeth Goodman’s consultancy, RiverRhee Consulting, focuses on.  She had the honour of chairing IQPC’s recent conference on Business Process Excellence in Pharmaceuticals, Biotech and Medical Devices in London.  She also wrote an article for the Medical Information and Pharmacovigilance community (PIPA) on this subject, and have written a few blogs about it in recent months.

Some of the main themes for Elisabeth out of all these experiences include:

The importance of tying the work we do to organisational goals and customer value.

This is something she emphasized in her paper for the IQPC conference: “Managing cultural change in business process improvement” , and it also comes out strongly in the 3 blogs that Elisabeth wrote based on the books: “Fake Work”, “Predictable results in unpredictable times”, and “Chasing the Rabbit”.  See more on these below.

The need to engage everyone in the process.

Anyone who has worked within, or with an organisation as Elisabeth has to introduce continuous process improvement will be absolutely convinced that total engagement is the only way to do this.  It came out as a strong theme in the IQPC conference, and again her blogs echo this.

The value of a structured approach to underpin this way of working.

The DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) approach to Lean and Six Sigma, the identification and elimination of wasted time and effort, the reduction of variability in the quality of our processes and outputs, and building these capabilities into the organisation lie at the heart of continuous improvement. Elisabeth covered some of these in her article for PIPA, and these themes are again echoed in some of herblogs.

So, a quick word about some of Elisabeth’s related blogs:

Fake work – a real opportunity to enhance team effectiveness

Common examples of fake work, described in Brent Peterson and Gaylan Nielson’s book by the same name as: “effort under the illusion of value”, are meetings with no clear purpose, e-mail threads copied to all and sundry, aimless use of the internet, generation of reports and metrics that no-one pays any attention to.

Tying what work is done to organisational goals; keeping a critical eye on how we are spending our time; questioning activities with no clear purpose and role modeling a more effective and efficient approach are all ways that can help us address this potential drain on time, money, and energy.

Achieving more value with less

This blog was based on Steven R Covey, Bob Whitman and Breck England’s book:  “Predictable results in unpredictable times” and also reiterates the importance of identifying and focusing on the organisation’s one, two or three ‘wildly important goals’.  It echoes comments Elisabeth has made in previous reflections about the importance of understanding what customers value, and of empowering and supporting employees’ efforts to align with both the organisation’s goals, and customer priorities.

Problems are the consequence of complex systems and imperfect people

Elisabeth uses this concept when teaching people about process improvement.  It echoes the words of one of her previous managers, who maintained that every problem should be treasured.  It takes away the risk of blame and defensiveness, and encourages people to find and address problems as they arise, and share the benefit of the new knowledge gained with the whole organisation.  This concept is also at the heart of Steven Spear’s book: “Chasing the Rabbit”, which I reviewed in my blog “High performing organisations: interweaving process improvement, knowledge management and change management”.

Do let us know if you have enjoyed these reflections.


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RiverRhee Consulting – 1 year old in July 2010!

June 2010

On 1st July 2010, RiverRhee Consulting will be 1 year old.  As someone who has taken an interest in our work, we thought you might be interested in a quick recap of our goals and achievements.
RiverRhee Consulting’s central focus is on enhancing team effectiveness. We do this by using process improvement, knowledge management and change management methodologies, and through a combination of 1:1 guidance, workshops, training, and occasional ‘hands-on’ project and change management support.
Our emphasis is on taking a flexible, tailored approach to meeting our clients’ needs, and on helping them to develop their internal capabilities so that they can continue to improve the way they work after our engagement is complete.  We also like to help our clients through the whole process of diagnosis, solution development, implementation, and follow-up to ensure that the anticipated benefits have been realised.
You can read more about our way of working on our recently launched website:

Our mix of clients reflects the 3 niche ‘markets’ that we have been targeting:

  • Pharmaceutical, Biotech, Life Science.  We’ve been working with a CRO in France to develop their customer relationship programme, and their operational efficiency. This has also been a tremendous opportunity to exercise Elisabeth Goodman‘s fluency in French.  Elisabeth has also been chairing conferences, presenting and preparing presentations on customer surveys and business process improvement with IQPC and the DIA.
  • Library and Information Services. We’ve been scheduling and delivering courses relating to change management and process improvement through TFPL and UKeIG.  Elisabeth is also the programme events manager for NetIKX and has chaired and spoken at several of their events.
  • Businesses in Cambs / Herts. RiverRhee Consulting is based on the Cambs / Herts border, and it has been very satisfying to help owners of other SMEs, through 1:1 tutorials and network seminars to use social media such as LinkedIn for their personal and business development.

We have been actively developing various workshop offerings.  Some of these have already been mentioned above.  John Riddell has been leading the development of one of these: ‘Achieving team goals – an integrated framework’.

RiverRhee Consulting associates are active members of a number of networks, and also work as associates with other organisations, details of which can also be found on our website:  Elisabeth is currently working with Pelican Coaching & Development on a client assignment, and on a book for personal effectiveness.  She is also helping to form The Creation Company, a business consultancy for the 21st Century!

Finally, we are active users of social media, so do take a look at our profiles:

We hope to have opportunities to talk and potentially work with you as we move into our second year.  Do get in touch if you wish to explore such opportunities.

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Knowledge Management

August 2010

Welcome to RiverRhee Consulting second newsletter since we celebrated our 1-year anniversary last month (RiverRhee Consulting 1 year old in July!). This issue, compiled by RiverRhee Consulting Associate John Riddell), focuses on knowledge management.

How do you approach Knowledge Management (KM)?

Knowledge Management means different things to different people, from database management to a culture endemic in the organisation.  Further, to some it is a business necessity and something they are passionate about, to others it is seen as a passing fad.

What about RiverRhee Consulting Associate’s attitude?  As you might expect with our backgrounds in knowledge management, we are “believers”.  Why ?  Knowledge Management (KM) ways of working go hand in hand with enhanced team effectiveness: with better access to knowledge, businesses can work smarter, increase efficiency, increase innovation and generally achieve improved business performance.

Unfortunately, it is all too easy to focus on the tools, and not the culture.  The question is often asked “what is the best KM tool to implement”.  At RiverRhee Consulting we like to ask: “what change do you want to see in the way your people work”.


Every KM approach is different, and many have failed, or simply given up (a chance for lessons learned?).  Unless you have a Bob Buckman at the top of your organisation who has a vision and is going to drive it through, then you have to look at how it can be weaved into your business.  Starting a “KM project” may give it identity but the question soon gets asked “show me the benefit”.  It is notoriously difficult to show tangible benefits from KM, and some would argue that if senior managers ask this question, then they don’t “get it”, so you are fighting a losing battle anyway!

Connecting KM to the Business

At RiverRhee Consulting we prefer to flip this approach and ask: “What are your business objectives” and then see how KM can help.

As an example of this, RiverRhee Consulting Owner and Principal Consultant, Elisabeth Goodman, explores how KM could achieve better business performance in the Medical Information and Pharmacovigilance areas of Pharmaceutical R&D in her article How to make the most of your information and knowledge assets .  Many of the approaches identified are well-known to the knowledge management fraternity, but it is the connections with outcomes that will drive implementation.

Taken a step further, KM can play a key part in the achievement of specific goals that a team within a company may need to achieve.  RiverRhee Consulting has developed an easily adopted approach to achieving team goals that combines the best elements of Project, Change and Knowledge Management, Lean and Six Sigma.  It leads teams through planning and start-up phases by asking all the right questions and then focuses on delivering a robust outcome.  See  RiverRhee’s framework for Achieving Team Goals.

Where is KM heading?

Social Media has impacted us all over the last few years.  Whether you’re an “early adopter” and Facebook is the first place you go to when you go to your computer (or smartphone), or whether you’re a dinosaur (and maybe proud of it!) and thought you understood that tweets were the noise that birds make, you can’t ignore it.  Whilst the distinction still needs to be drawn between work and leisure, the way in which the social networking generation communicate will affect us all.

Elisabeth Goodman’s seminar for St John’s Innovation Centre: Using social media to support, develop and market your business identifies how the connection between social media and business benefit can be made.  How this can be implemented is explored in her blog Social Media: putting you and your business at the heart of your community and in her presentation to NetIKX Using LinkedIn, Blogs and Twitter for networking and Communities of Interest

If you have enjoyed this newsletter, and would like to receive future ones on topics relating to enhancing team effectiveness, you can subscribe to them on the RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter site.




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‘Finding our voice’ – a route to greater employee engagement and empowerment?

October 2010

When Elisabeth Goodman first left full time employment after 21 years in a FTSE 100 company, and a previous 4 years in a similar corporate environment, she had an exhilarating sense of freedom and opportunity to exercise her talents and wits in whatever way she wished.  Fifteen months on she’s very pleased with the choices she has made, and the new path she has carved out for herself as Owner and Principal Consultant with RiverRhee Consulting.

However, her conversations with those who are employees and her experience of running work-shops, seminars and training courses on process improvement, knowledge management and change management, continue to convince her that employees will be more ‘empowered’, more engaged and more motivated in their work if, as advocated by Stephen R. Covey1, they are encouraged and helped to ‘find their voice’.

One way we can ‘find our voice’ is by re-thinking our careers2.

Those of us working for employees should think about what career paths we want to steer in life – and engage our line managers in personal review & development discussions accordingly.  Thinking in this way can help us to view our roles within the organisation differently and perhaps take more of a leadership, creative and continuous improvement role within the context of our remit.  It can help us to approach our work with a ‘self-employed’ attitude.

Those of us who have worked for the same employers for a long length of time, and are now branching out into something new, can find ourselves bravely re-examining what unique offerings we can bring to our potential new employers, or customers.  It may be the first time in a long while that we realize we have a choice, and how difficult that choice can be.

‘Do more great work’ by Michael Bungay Stanier3 is a very good, exercise-filled guide to discovering what’s important to us in our work and how we might get to do more of it.

We can / should take responsibility for ‘Topgrading’ 4 ,5ourselves

Bradford D Smart advocates that we should each take responsibility for finding those positions or roles where we can be “A” players, instead of being satisfied with playing a “B/C” role.  He argues that, in the right role, we can all be A players.

He suggests that people perform periodical personal career reviews of their competencies relative to the marketplace, and that we cultivate networks of knowledgeable people as well as reading widely and attending seminars and trade-shows to help us with this.

Managers also of course have a key role in developing employee engagement and empowerment6,7

It’s a sad paradox that in difficult times, many of the people that get laid off are those who have the knowledge that could help the organisation out of recession.

Covey et al make a number of references to how Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox in 2001, managed to turn the organisation around.  One of the key ways she did this was by making fewer people redundant than others might have done, and by appealing directly to people throughout the organisation for ideas.  It may seem obvious but, as the authors point out, “only knowledgeable people can create the solutions you need to succeed in a crisis.”

Closing thoughts

In a recent blog based on 2 articles from the Observer on employee engagement8, Elisabeth Goodman makes the point that companies’ focus on employee engagement and on the tools to facilitate and measure this engagement are important, but will only work if the people involved are: doing the jobs that they enjoy; supported in the skills that they need to do them effectively; ‘empowered’ (or have control over) how they do their jobs and can improve them; and have a belief (endorsed by their managers) that what they are doing is worthwhile.

RiverRhee Consulting approach to working with organisations, and running workshops, seminars and training courses is to develop people’s capabilities and encourage them and their managers to use their knowledge and expertise so that they are ‘empowered’ to be creative, and be leaders in finding ways to continuously improve their work.

Related Blogs & Notes

  1. “The 8th Habit. From effectiveness to greatness”, by Stephen R. Covey. Simon & Schuster Sound Ideas,1980.
  2. Building strong personal career paths
  3. ‘Do more great work’, by Michael Bungay Stanier
  4. Topgrading
  5. “Topgrading” by Bradford D Smart, Portfolio, 2005
  6. Achieving more value with less
  7. “Predictable results in unpredictable times”, by Stephen R. Covey, Bob Whitman and Breck England. FranklinCovey Publishing, 2009.
  8. Employee engagement – some interesting data and perspectives for Lean and Six Sigma practitioners
  9. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting: enhancing team effectiveness using process improvement, knowledge management and change management.  Follow the links to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, and about Elisabeth Goodman.

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Effectively engaging customers in change management and day-to-day work

December 2010

As we approach the end of another year, many of us will be reflecting on the changes that we’ve undergone in our personal and business lives, and those to come in 2011.  We know that change, whether positive or negative, brings uncertainty, and that we and others can face it with more courage when we have a sense of being involved and in control in some way in our destiny.

RiverRhee Consulting Owner and Principal Consultant, Elisabeth Goodman, has continued to run workshops, and write blogs and articles on the themes of customer engagement and change management during 2010, and has more planned during 2011.  This newsletter summarises some of the highlights and plans1.

How to successfully implement business change

This was the last of 4 articles written for Pipeline, PIPA’s publication for Medical Information and Pharmacovigilance practitioners2.  It provides some step-by-step suggestions for how to effectively implement change whether relatively small operational changes, new IT systems, or more visible organisational changes such as those resulting from mergers, acquisitions, and restructuring.  Since writing this article, Elisabeth has attended an APM meeting on ‘Influencer’3 – and so, in the spirit of continuous improvement, we will be studying this approach for new insights to help our own customers with.

Communicating change – some practical procedural guidance

This blog was inspired by ‘Perfect Phrases for Communicating Change’ by Lawrence Polsky and Antoine Gershel4, and focused on what we need to say and do during the 3 phases of change: launch, execution, sustain; the different kinds of communication needed for different situations; and some best practices for communicating change and handling (indeed welcoming!) resistance.

Implementing, sustaining and embedding process improvement

Disappointingly, December’s IQPC conference  “Operational Excellence in Pharmaceuticals, Biotech and Medical Devices” was cancelled, however it enabled Elisabeth Goodman to develop some key pointers on the various stages of implementing a process improvement programme, based on RiverRhee Consulting and others experiences which she will be looking for other opportunities to share.

Promoting Information Literacy for End Users

This course, delivered through TFPL, and first run in 2009, was held twice more during 2010, and is scheduled for the spring and autumn of 2011.  It provides delegates from Library and Information Management organisations with a highly interactive approach on how to implement and embed Information Literacy programmes in a way that really focuses on engagement of their customers or stakeholders.

Influencing your Stakeholders – Powerful techniques for marketing AND change management

In 2011, Elisabeth Goodman will be working with Shaida Dorabjee of SD Information Services ( to explore how marketing techniques can complement change management approaches for influencing stakeholders, in a new workshop to be delivered through UKeIG.

Transitioning Library and Information Service customers from consumers to collaborators – we still have a way to go..

This blog was a collection of reflections prompted by speakers at Internet Librarian International 2010 on the subject social media, a Library and Information Gazette5 article on ‘customer journey mapping’, and a Library and Information Update6 article on branding – all of them exploring ways for how to engage customers more effectively.

Closing thoughts

RiverRhee Consulting approach to working with organisations, and running workshops, seminars and training courses is to develop people’s capabilities and encourage them and their managers to use their knowledge and expertise more fully. Our goal is to enable our clients to continuously improve their work, and effectively embed change without always having recourse to outside consultants.  Elisabeth Goodman’s blog: Using consultants with purpose attempts to address the old-favourite: “Consultants ask to borrow your watch to tell you the time, and then walk off with your watch!”7

Related Blogs & Notes

1. You may wish to view our previous newsletter on these themes: Reflections on Customer Relationship Management and Change Management

2. Elisabeth Goodman (2010).  How to successfully implement business change.  Pipeline, The Journal of the Pharmaceutical and Pharmacovigilance Association, Issue 30, September 2010, pp 41-43

3. “Influencer: The Power to Change Anything” by Kerry Patterson

4. “Perfect Phrases for Communicating Change” by Lawrence Polsky and Antoine Gershel

5. Erika Gavillet (2010).  Short cuts to satisfied customers.  Library and Information Gazette. 2-15 September 2010 p.11

6. Antony Brewerton and Sharon Tuersley (2010).  More than just a logo – branding at Warwick. Library and Information Update. October 2010 pp.46-48

7. Robert C. Townsend – author of: Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits (J-B Warren Bennis Series), Jossey Bass; Commemorative Edition edition (1 Jun 2007)

8. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting: enhancing team effectiveness using process improvement, knowledge management and change management.  Follow the links to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, and about Elisabeth Goodman.

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