What the Great British Bake Off can teach us about QI….

By 25th September 2019Uncategorised

We’re enjoying this latest series of Great British Bake Off…and wondered how much we can learn from the show to help us with Quality Improvement..

What’s your signature dish?

There’s a reason bake-off contestants enjoy round 1 more than round 2. In round 1, they have chosen, refined, practiced the recipe they are baking and are keen to show off what they’ve learned. In round 2, the technical, they are issued with a prescribed set of ingredients, the name of a recipe and not enough instructions. They are trying to re-create a bake which someone else has in their mind, they don’t really know what it should look and taste like…and over which they’ve had no choice.

The result? Stress….frustration…disappointment on both sides.
Allowing people to bake their choice of cake produces far better results.
When we start projects we need to foster enthusiasm, keep people in their comfort zone, let them create something they are proud of. People own what they create…and in doing so will self motivate, be independent and produce excellent quality work.

15s30m Missions allow each member of staff to pick their own ‘signature dish’ – an idea that they are enthusiastic about and believe they can complete and be proud of.


Bread week fills some contestants with fear. Mr Hollywood’s refrain of “overworked, underproved” rings out across the tent.

To make a good loaf of bread, the dough needs to kneaded enough to activate the gluten. If not enough work is done, the bread will not rise. If you do too much – ‘over work’ it – , the result is chewy and inedible.
Projects need enough, but not too much planning. Quality Improvement needs to get out onto the shop floor, with the people ‘doing the do’. If action plans, project paperwork and meetings dominate, it will stifle the ability of the project to flourish.

We like to think that @15s30m has the shortest action plan in the NHS. Our MissionPack needs only a few words to get you started – so the barriers to participation are as low as possible.

Anyone who’s ever watched bake off will be familiar with the magical ‘proving drawer’ – a warm cabinet in which dough is placed and left to prove. Without interference, left to itself, the dough will double in size. It is then re kneaded, and left to prove a second time.

#15s30mMissions often grow and change. The idea someone started with is a springboard to bigger, larger, more complex QI projects.  If we jumped in too early, we risk stifling this growth potential.  Starting small, allowing space to grow, that’s the key.

This resting time is essential: it allows organic growth. If this time is cut short or left out, the project won’t achieve its full potential. Lots changes when you leave a project alone – when you go back you might decide its direction has changed; it needs a new target or aim; the methodology has been amended to one which works better. Allowing the right environment, but keeping your fingers out.  Don’t get involved in someone else’s mission idea – let them do it!

But the most important bit is to GO BACK – if the dough is left in the proving drawer, it will never become a loaf of bread. If it’s left too long, the second kneading – the changes needed to get the second rise – won’t be effective. Revisiting, paying it a second lot of attention will reap great rewards.

Then its into the oven, sit back and wait for the results.

The Hollywood Handshake

How much does a Hollywood Handshake cost? Where can you buy one? What’s the application and selection process?
The highest accolade a baker can receive is a Hollywood Handshake – silent action which recognises a job well done. The impact of one of the rarest of prized is immediate evident – emotional and physically boosting, a sense of pride, being acknowledged that what you’ve done is worthwhile has an extraordinary effect on the bakers. Yet, its just a handshake! There’s not monetary worth; as soon as its done its gone; there’s no limit to how many he can offer.

We encourage people to share their missions on twitter, or email so we can send out one of our little @15s30m Hero cogs. Its a tiny little thing, less than 2cm in diameter, but the joy they bring is priceless!

Acknowledgement, praise and recognition are incredibly powerful. The more personal, the greater the impact. When someone has done a great job, we should tell them so. Not because we want them to be made an example of; not to show others up; but because the hope of ‘maybe it’ll be me next time’, seeing another person being valued and acknowledged is motivating. And the bakes will keep coming, be more adventurous, will keep us going when something goes awry.

Time to get your apron out the drawer, recipe books off the shelf, get the oven on…we can’t wait to see what you make us

Want to know more about our social movement to reduce frustration and increase joy in work? Quality Improvement for those who think Quality Improvement isn’t for them.

@15s30m      Info@15s30m.co.uk            www.15s30m.co.uk

With thanks to @sonia_sparkles for our fabulous pictorials

Rachel Pilling and Dan Wadsworth are the winners of the 2017 NHS Improvement Sir Peter Carr Award. They’d love to hear from you…follow them on twitter @miss_pilling  or @danwods or get in touch using email above.