A hero inside every worker

A new TV programme will advise bosses to tap grass-roots expertise

At a time when management seems to be getting ever more complex, Sid Joynson sticks out like a sore thumb, writes Roger Trapp.

With little enthusiasm for common three-letter acronyms, such as JIT (Just In Time), TQM (Total Quality Management) and BPR (Business Process Re-engineering), he offers his own "ultimate three-letter acronym" - BCS (Basic Common Sense). It might well be Mr Joynson's watchword.

He believes that, even after years of bowing down before the gods of Japanese management practice and supposedly welcoming in such notions as employee participation, British companies still exhibit a tendency to see the workforce as the "hands" - tools to be used by the management "brain" without consultation or, it would seem, much concern for their thoughts or feelings.

It is a contention that seems to be backed up by many of the workers he meets in his travels around the country. People tell him that they hate their work, complain about not being consulted and claim they are not regarded as people.

But, he insists, it need not be that way. He and his wife have spent the past 14 years teaching companies how tapping the talent of the workforce can improve their productivity. Now television viewers are going to be able to see how he does it.

Sid's Heroes, a series of six half-hour programmes that begins on BBC1 on Sunday, aims to celebrate the work of what he calls the "grass-roots experts". These are the people - often in such lowly positions as janitor or machine minder - who really know how the businesses are run, he says.

In acknowledging their role, Mr Joynson is also recognising that hands- on experience is not as inferior to intellectual training as is often assumed. "I used to think like that myself until I went to Japan and studied their way of doing things," he says.

Inspired by the examples of such organisations as Toyota and Nissan, he has built a successful consultancy practice. The TV programmes are his way of thanking the people who have made him, he adds.

Although he might be regarded as the catalyst for change in organisations, he insists that he actually does very little practical work, other than provide the figurative wire-cutters to sever employees' chains.

"Every worker, every person, has a hero inside them," he says. "If you handle it correctly, you can transform them into people who can make a great difference."

He hopes the programmes will demonstrate how quickly people can be turned on to the approach. He is reluctant to suggest a religious link, but he admits that it has been influenced by the Zen way of learning that he came into contact with in Japan. Indeed, he says his business took off after he visited the country eight years ago.

The series covers a range of organisations, from a hospital to a shoe factory via a cross-Channel ferry. In most, viewers see Mr Joynson's methods transform a situation.

For example, the medical and clerical staff at the Countess of Chester Hospital in Chester are deeply frustrated because as many as 60 files of case notes disappear each week. His answer - to set up teams to track down the files - seems obvious. But it has satisfying results.

Likewise, low morale at the Lambert Howarth shoes factory in Lancashire is improved by turning old assembly lines into working cells in the way of the Japanese model.

But it is not all plain sailing. At Videoprint, a manufacturer of CDs, audio and video cassettes based in Ipswich, he manages to overcome the workers' scepticism to increase productivity by 20 per cent. But he fails to convince the managing director, Brian Bonner, and the programme ends in a fierce exchange of words.

Mr Joynson would rather the episode was not screened. But he accepts that it demonstrates how delicate a balance there is in such exercises. "People just grow in front of your eyes. But you can destroy them in 20 seconds," he says.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: 1st Line IT Support - Surrey - £24,000

£20000 - £24000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Support Helpd...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Audit Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Audit Graduate Opportunities ar...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

FDM Group: Business and Technical IT Consultants – London, Manchester, Glasgow

21,000-24,000: FDM Group: Kick-start your career and join FDM’s award-winning ...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there