A manufacturing company ranked #1 in its industry in both manufacturing costs and production effectiveness. The president was under pressure to continue to reduce costs by 5% annually, beyond “plan.” Convinced there were significant opportunities for cost savings, cycle time reduction, and increased effectiveness within their administrative processes, he had been unsuccessful in gaining interest from his senior team.
This is a common obstacle when the senior leader of an organization sees the need to change but is unsuccessful in “convincing” his/her team. Our approach is different. We don’t try to convince people, we create processes that allow them to convince, or see for themselves.
The first thing we did was design and facilitate a meeting of the senior leadership team, giving them an opportunity to share their plans and the estimated savings. Looking at the possibilities all together, the team was able to see what the president already saw: that they were not going to reach the 5-year plan without making significant changes in manufacturing and administrative processes. They realized they had to do something more. We asked them to identify the key administrative processes, focusing on those which crossed functional or departmental lines, because it’s usually at those boundaries where the biggest opportunities lie. We then designed and facilitated a series of meetings which engaged the top 100 managers in what would be called the Business Process Excellence (BPE) Program. First we asked them to develop high level maps of their seven key administrative processes. They immediately saw that there were huge opportunities for improvement in the processes, and actual savings to be realized.
Focusing on the two most far-reaching processes, we designed an approach in which employees involved in those key functions convinced themselves of the opportunities for improvement in process effectiveness and cost savings. Building on the company’s extensive success in improving manufacturing processes, we collaborated with their black belts to engage the internal and external customers to redesign their administrative processes. The result was increased process efficiencies, cost savings, and customer satisfaction. The black belts were then able to lead the redesign for completion of the remaining administrative processes.
The President said: “BPE culturally changed things for us. Administrative managers and employees are thinking differently. And this year we had the best performance in our history – the variable pay was the highest ever.”