A glance in the mirror told me that my waistline needed some urgent attention, and within minutes I’d ordered an exercise bike which arrived the following day.  A week later the treadmill came, followed shortly after by the weights.  Fully three months later I hadn’t lost any weight and I began to wonder if there was a link between my lack of progress and the fact that I hadn’t used any of the expensive kit I’d bought.   I’d been busy, you see.

Which brought me back to my day job at People=Positive.  Many large organisations invest in standards and accreditations designed to reduce cost, increase efficiency, reduce risk and drive innovation, and they’ll do all those things – if you’re prepared to work at them.  A fantastic example of that is ISO44001 – which has been the internationally recognised collaborative working standard since 2017.  But what often happens is that the accreditation’s achieved, pockets of excellence are created and the company benefits from a great marketing spin but doesn’t get the real benefit from its investment because – like the exercise equipment gathering dust in my shed – the business hasn’t fully embraced the kit it’s bought.

So if you’ve gone to the effort and expense to achieve a recognised accreditation, our advice is to recognise the full breadth of the opportunity it offers and exploit it.  This means focussing on working collaboratively with customers, partners, suppliers and your own colleagues to achieve common goals.  Driving culture and behaviour change across the business and creating robust internal support networks where colleagues learn from each other.  Holding yourself to account – measuring progress and stepping in if you’re not getting the results you need.  It’s not easy, and it needs strong leadership and an awareness of the need to change, but the rewards can be immense.

In our experience accreditations and standards (particularly those linked to collaborative working) are always useful to businesses – just like exercise equipment can aid weight loss.  But don’t stop with the certificate on the wall (or the kit in the shed) – embed the business tool in every aspect of your organisation and make it the new norm – “the way we do things around here”.  That’s when you’ll see the real benefits.