Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Implementing your business plan (continued): a real-life example

To illustrate, an automotive client had to increase production dramatically. They faced significant management inertia and a legal barrier limiting the solution.

The resulting success of this six month Pyramid ODI assignment triggered legislative change, increased revenue by $20m and added $4m to the bottom line.

Success came from attributes “stolen” from the business planners’ manual:

- detailed market analysis principles were used by three shop-floor facilitated groups to find solutions from way beyond their current business sector;
- risk mitigation principles were used to identify “new entrants” and “substitution” that were not impacting the current business but could influence the future;
- segmentation was used to identify the unique needs of all those currently influenced and those identified in risk mitigation - leading to multiple action and communication strategies.

In seven weeks, the teams picked up ideas, modified them and designed their preferred solution, within a framework that included a “no increase in operating costs” framework set by management.

Management were initially sceptical and then amazed. Supervision attended a weekly breakfast briefing. Initially negative, they soon embraced the changes.

These teams had no previous involvement in influencing change; for many, this represented their first visit to another company and their first presentation to anyone above their immediate supervisor.

Key to their success was the identification and inclusion of “new entrants” who played a significant part in influencing a successful outcome. Left unattended, they could have blocked the change. The early inclusion of authority figures from the local community, the country’s Prime Minister and the Group Board were crucial.

We engaged with the workforce in a fundamentally different way. Their solution grabbed the imagination of supervision, management, executives and government.

Views on shop-floor capability changed forever, as self-confidence grew and the capacity for change increased. HQ invested in new capital projects. The future, for a generation at least, seems secure.

The shop-floor even found their own elegant solution to avoid conflict with their trade union at national level.

In conclusion, “Getting to Plan B” works equally well in implementing the resulting change. True culture change can occur rapidly with really effective segmentation and due diligence.

Postscript: The quote from their Finance Director, which he delivered in between pinning me to the wall and then giving me a large bear hug, will stay with me forever, “I have worked here for 35 years. I never realised the potential of our own workers. We have wasted so much in that time!” He was shaking with emotion.

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