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Operations & Process Improvement

Build a Culture of Process Excellence with These 3 Data-Driven Action Steps

All businesses want to drive down their costs and boost their revenue. But how? Today, we’re sharing our process excellence insights with you so you can generate these stellar results for yourself.

Step 1: Dive into data-collecting: Start simple and stick to the basics

In order to set your company up for success, start simple (and keep it that way) by narrowing down and focusing on three main areas that drive your bottom line.

Try to pinpoint your three largest financial drivers and start collecting data on each one. For example:

  • If you’re a service creation company, track hours per project or hours per client
  • If you are an emergency room, you may be interested in average wait time per patient

Once you start collecting data, you can begin to see and understand how your financial drivers are behaving. Plot the data over time and look for any trends. Establish daily, weekly, and/or monthly targets that you are trying to achieve. Prioritize your solutions based on how important they are to your financial drivers.

Step 2: Share your three largest financial drivers and the data you’ve charted

Share your three key financial drivers and the relevant data you’ve collected with your associates on a regular basis (keep reading to find out what exactly “regular” means).

As your associates find out how successful they were or how much they need to improve on a regular basis, they will develop a personal interest in how the data is behaving day after day. After all, it’s a direct reflection of their efforts!

This will help to breed a culture of process excellence and data-driven action across all levels of the organization.

Step 3: Have a daily meeting (whether you want to or not)

Many companies have a daily meeting. In the manufacturing world, it’s called a “daily production meeting.” In many workplace cultures, it’s considered sacred to the management team — the heartbeat of the daily requirements.

Use this meeting to enable data-driven conversations and action. Employees are expected to be brutally honest, look critically at new data and their own performance, and consider at all times the three key financial drivers.

Over time, your associates will naturally begin to focus on the three key financial drivers themselves. Make sure to celebrate those wins when they start coming!

The key to process excellence: data and communication

Once you gather your data and gather your team daily to discuss the possibilities, you’re off to the races. Data-driven conversations lead to prioritized action and focus (which leads to more money saved and earned for your business).

The act of continuous process and business performance improvement is the foundational block of process excellence.

What questions do you still have about developing a culture of process excellence? Leave us a comment below, or contact our team of cross-functional performance improvement specialists today to learn more.

 

Stop Pouring Dollars down the Drain! Follow These Top 5 Steps to Make Solutions Stick in Your Organization

how to make solutions stick

 

Every organization has seen the decay of implemented solutions, programs, projects, and other business enhancements over the years.

In other words, that means countless company dollars down the drain, wasted on change management solutions that just wouldn’t stick.

With the typical attrition and turnover hovering between 15% and 17% in U.S. and Canada, it’s likely that you will see programs and projects show up as line items on your new strategic plan that have already been implemented (and failed)!

Follow this list and you’ll help your project last for years after implementation:

The numbers don’t lie: Project success rates are dismal, but solution stickiness rates are worse

Although most consulting organizations, project managers, and executives promise sustainability in the work that is to be done, there’s a ton of research out there that shows the harsh realities of implementation and project failures. As many as 70% of organizations surveyed in a recent survey have suffered at least one project that has failed in the last 12 months.

What’s even more disconcerting is that most of these statistics don’t cover projects that have failed post implementation and initial success. Survey even some of the most mature and technologically advanced organizations and you’ll find a ton of projects that have fizzled over the years.

  1. Build processes independent of turnover

Turnover and leadership transitions are among the most common reasons that projects fizzle. But it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) have to be this way!

Everyone has seen a new leader come in, move people around and create a new roadmap for their area, oblivious to the good work and existing processes and solutions that are being damaged.

Make sure your next solution will keep on chugging along even if existing employees and leaders do get moved around.

  1. Track projects PRE and POST implementation

Many organizations simply check the box for “Project Completed” and stop there. Revisit projects six months after completion, and every year thereafter. Ensure that there are backups and sustainability tactics put in place in case the organization moves to a different IT platform for Program and Project Management.

  1. Build solutions resilient to financial and operational growth and shrink

Ensure that every solution or project that is implemented has a sense of scalability.  If your project only works for a constrained growth or declined forecast, let everyone know clearly the thresholds and when it may break down.  The best solutions are those that expand and contract easily.

  1. Partner with finance

Someone in finance should be supporting the financial audit component of your program or project.  Ensure that they are always in the loop and are engaged in the long-term tracking of the project.  Make sure that the numbers match and are agreed upon.  Ensure that there is complete visibility by both parties to the software and program management postmortems.

  1. Ensure that knowledge about the solution is transferred

If you are spending time and money to create a solution and implement it, then the change that applies to people’s jobs needs to be documented and trained for new hires and transfers.  Don’t risk losing the knowledge of key people involved in the solution that move on from their roles to new ones inside or outside the organization.  Document, share, and monitor to ensure that knowledge and executive of new solutions lives on.

Recap: Whatever you do, don’t ever…

  • Don’t: Assume your process is resilient just because people like it
  • Don’t: Check the “project completed” box and stop there
  • Don’t: Assume that Joe and Sally will continue working there the rest of their lives and can speak to the status of an implemented project whenever needed
  • Don’t: Assume the environmental conditions of the solution space will stay the same
  • Don’t: Forget to buy your finance partners coffee every once in a while…

What questions do you have about increasing solution stickiness? Leave us a comment below, or contact our team of cross-functional performance improvement specialists today for personalized support.

 

Developing a lean culture from the top down: a workshop approach

team completing a lean workshop

 

“Lean” is one of the more prevalent buzzwords in the business process improvement industry. Lean is the continual pursuit of efficiency through the removal of waste in a process or system. The word gained its popularity in the manufacturing sector, but is now gaining traction in other industries.

Lean is all about eliminating everything that does not add value (removing waste), in turn creating the most efficient way to move from point A to point B in any given process. Why? Lean strategies help companies make more money by making products more efficiently, or save money by cutting costs and downtime.

How do companies create a lean culture?

It doesn’t matter what name you give your lean strategy: kaizen, kanban, poke-yoke or error-proofing, 5S, eight forms of waste, value stream mapping, or cellular manufacturing. The terms are irrelevant – all of these terms are about eliminating waste and streamlining processes.

However, most companies will find that while senior level executives are often eager to implement a lean culture, those employees who work on the floor in the manufacturing plants can be quite reluctant to make changes to their daily processes and procedures. After all, they’re usually the ones who have to make the most significant changes.

So, this begs the question: If you want to create a lean culture from the top-down, how do you create buy-in and support through all levels of the organization?

The ultimate lean implementation solution: the workshop approach

Workshops can be extremely effective at creating lean buy-in because they are interactive. In most learning scenarios, a company will have a wide-variety of visual, auditory, and experiential learners. Workshops manage to touch all three audiences while keeping everyone engaged.

There are many different types of lean workshops out on the market, each one with its own price tag. Be wary of workshops that last more than half a day as you may lose interest and energy level. Alternatively, workshops that are less than two hours may not bring about the memorable moments you’re hoping to achieve.

Overall, we found the most success with a half-day workshop that creates a team-based, competitive atmosphere.

Generating management buy-in for a new lean culture

Hosting a series of these workshops with your management team can quickly demonstrate what a lean culture could accomplish for your company. Top-down support is the first step in a profitable and exciting journey to performance excellence.

What questions do you have about using the workshop approach to create a lean culture from the top-down? Leave us a comment below, or contact our team of cross-functional performance improvement specialists today to learn more.

 

5 Ways to Maximize Effort Without Spending Another Dime

human capital management people

 

We’ve all been there – that awkward downtime that comes immediately after you’ve finished a major project or met a key deadline. Now that the rush is over and the goal has been completed, work can start to feel like simply watching the clock on the wall. The question that always follows for both leaders and employees after a major project has been completed is “what now?”

How do you continue to motivate your team immediately after wrapping up a project that involved a great deal of effort? How do you reduce the risk of your employees becoming burnt out or complacent?

These questions are exactly what we’re going to discuss in this article: How to receive the maximum amount of effort from your employees, without spending any additional business dollars?

Understanding what motivates your employees is key

The first thing you need to recognize is that each team member is going to have different triggers, meaning that you will have to already know what’s important to each individual. When you have the ability to understand what it is your employee values, it gives you the upper hand on providing motivation rather than incentive.

Now, you may be thinking, “I already know all of this; I already do all of these things; I already know how to motivate my employees.” If that’s the case, then great! You’re one step ahead of the game.

Maximizing effort really boils down to one thing: Being authentic in your approach. Let’s dive into the nitty gritty details below:

1. Acknowledge a job well done

Personal or team acknowledgment after a job well done is an important experience for employee. Whether this is a one-on-one conversation or done within a team setting, make sure to take the time to commend the effort that was given.

When possible, it’s best to make these acknowledgments in person rather than via email or phone. This small detail can help demonstrate the authenticity of your praises to your employees.

2. Reward efforts, not just results

Always reward great efforts (even if they weren’t successful in the end). When you reward effort—rather than just results—you encourage risk-taking and set a precedent that it’s okay to make a mistake, or to be told no.

The employee takes away the motivation to take chances, while being able to weigh opportunities and make good decisions.

3. Offer flexible working hours

When everyone’s been working hard, you can show you care about your team by incorporating flexible hours. Simply being allowed to arrive a bit later in the morning or work shorter hours on Fridays can drastically boost morale.

In fact, flexible hours may be just the thing an employee needs to keep from getting burnt out after spending long hours meeting a major project deadline.

4. Provide meaningful work opportunities

Offer your employees work that is interesting and that appeals to their skillsets and passions. Be a leader that creates special projects and presents opportunities that allow employees to excel and utilize their unique talents.

When you provide an employee a project that is meaningful and valuable to them, you may start seeing signs of increased interest and effort.

5. Build a culture you (and your employees) can be proud of

Make the culture of your company one built on trust and other core values. Focus on communication, and always be genuine. Show a sincere interest in employees by providing a plan or roadmap for their success. After completing a project or meeting a deadline, utilize the time period immediately following to discuss plans and next steps for each employee. This not only builds trust in your relationship, but also demonstrates that you care about their future in the business.

These 5 basic principles can strengthen your relationship with your employees and boost their efforts to new levels

The best part? It doesn’t take much extra time or cost the company millions of dollars to implement these simple practices. Additionally, practicing these principles will not only grow your employees, but also help you to become a better leader.

This is one of the many things that separates The Poirier Group from other larger consulting firms – we build relationships, not only with our employees, but with our clients. We work to build partnerships within our team and within every project that we work on! Contact us today to learn more.

 

How to fail at communication and change management: Part 1

consulting blog post


Lessons learned from businesses that under performed against competitors and delivered low total shareholder return.

How to fail at communication and change management

Reading this post could make you 3.5x more likely to outperform your competitors.

According to benchmarking research from Towers Watson, organizations with high effectiveness in change management and communication are three and a half times more likely to significantly outperform their industry peers.

The same research found companies with the most effective employee communication programs delivered a 91% total return to shareholders (RTS), compared with 62% for firms that communicate less effectively. A significant improvement in communication effectiveness is in correlation with a nearly 16% increase in market value.

Great, but what does any of that have to do with this blog post?

The unfortunate truth is most large organizations struggle with internal communication. Many underperform or even fail as a result. A survey of 400 companies found miscommunication causes a staggering average loss of $62.4 million USD per company each year.

This series of posts picks apart some of the most spectacular communication failures we’ve experienced in our work, and shows you real-world solutions you can put to work in your organizations to eliminate:

  • Lost time to market
  • Inefficient work with no transparency or accountability
  • Stalled or stopped business due to exhausting time and resources
  • Sloth-like response to needs

How to achieve high effectiveness in change management and communication?

Most businesses and their employees understand the importance of interdepartmental communication—it’s easy to make a case for why they should invest resources in creating effective and efficient processes.

The tricky part is how. Three processes are central to creating a framework through which companies achieving high effectiveness in communication and change management:

  1. Create a system that streamlines communication between departments.
  2. Standardize the necessary touch points between departments to allow easy project tracking and accountability.
  3. Ensure employees understand how their work fits within and impacts the entire organization.

Using this three-part framework, you can achieve the clear, efficient and highly effective communication that differentiates market leaders.

Step 1: Create a system that streamlines communication between departments

Case Study: Artificial Intelligence Can’t Solve Every Problem

Case Study: Artificial Intelligence can't solve every problem

Time is money, so there has been an increasing trend in automation within internal communications. In this case, a leading retailer found themselves without enough resources to respond to inquiries from their stores (mostly out of stock inquiries).

This retailer received millions of inquiries from stores to the head office.

There simply weren’t enough people to manage that kind of volume, and the team responsible for responding to help desk tickets wasn’t allowed to expand.

Their solution?

The team’s management implemented Artificial Intelligence (AI) software that would scan incoming emails for a set of keywords chosen to identify the most important messages, and would delete the rest. The AI software was so “effective” that it eliminated approximately 80% of incoming emails.

Problem solved, right? Not exactly.

After a few months, there were more emails than before the software implementation. Undeterred by the AI program deleting their messages, stores would send a second email if they didn’t get an answer to their original query. More emails were generated, and more were deleted.

Frustrated employees at the stores looked for ways to get around the system. Their solution? Find a phone number at the home office and call.

The missing link

Effective communication is about employee trust, relationship building, providing clarity and collaboration within the organization. The implementation of the AI software failed to address these factors.

The first step to streamlining communications in this organization was to align each department’s idea of success. It turns out in all their zeal for reducing the number of help desk tickets they were creating nobody thought to ask why the stores were generating so many inquiries.

For the stores, success meant getting their questions answered in a timely fashion. The easiest way for them to go about that was to hit send until they got a response. The department in the head office’s idea of success was reducing the number of help desk tickets it received. By understanding this disconnect, we could recommend prioritizing stores questions and concerns and create a system that worked for everyone.

The new system worked because it measured and impacted all parties’ ideas of success. Making the stores and their concerns a priority meant that the company was no longer leaning on AI systems to do the guesswork and hone in on the inquiries that mattered. This dramatically cut down on the number of tickets generated, improving the organization’s success metrics.

Gain the competitive advantage of being 3.5X more likely to significantly outperform your industry peers, with the bonus of more harmonious department relations.

Ever found yourself frustrated because of ineffective communication processes? Share your experience by leaving a comment below!

And, stay tuned for Part 2 & Part 3, where we’ll share more real life business failures and solutions – plus, in the last post, tips for keeping your business from making the same mistakes!