How does adaptability work? How does it make a business more profitable? I get asked those and related questions almost daily.
Let me give you an answer by way of an example. I once worked with a parcel shipping company looking to find differentiation on their core business: package delivery.
Working with them, we came to realise they needed to start having different conversations with their customers.
Here’s how their business was run. Staff would typically drive to a customer who’d called for a pickup. The customer hands them a package that has been estimated in weight and cost. The courier would then bring it back to the office where it would be weighed again. If it was different – and it often was – they had to call the customer to find out how to proceed. If they couldn’t get in touch with the customer, they drove the parcel back to the customer to talk in person. About 24 hours was wasted in this process as well as a lot of the customer’s patience.
We did some research and came up with some solutions. The customer errors in calculating weights for their parcels was due to their lack of a weigh scale. So we gave the couriers scales to bring along when picking up the packages. We also had the couriers show customers how to properly pack items to get the least expensive rate. If the customer didn’t have the appropriate materials, the driver would bring in packing materials to assist.
They basically turned the driver into a customer service specialist. Pretty soon they would see other packages with the customer and ask why they weren’t shipping with their company. If the reason was shipping cost, they would source pricing for them often to find they were cheaper. They would even offer to do the complex import / export paperwork if necessary.
The courier took our recommendations, implemented them and increased their local revenue by 25 percent overnight.
Further, their proactive courier customer contact ended up growing the account.
They had underestimated their couriers. Originally hired to drive from location A to B, they more than rose to the challenge of their new customer-focussed roles.
Is that how all adaptable change processes work? No, not at all. They are as different as one business is from another.
To talk with Lloyd Parry about how to transform your business into an adaptable one and increase profitability, please get in touch.
I once worked with an organisation who for three years were one of 12 shortlisted companies providing IT Services for home users and businesses for a large US technology company. They suddenly, and without any warning, found themselves bidding to be one of the tech company’s three remaining suppliers.
My client was now forced to provide a compelling reason to be one of the final consolidated three companies – in return the outsourcing USA tech company expected to pay less for the overall service. The US tech company assumptions were that by giving the three successful bidders more business they would have more ‘synergies’ and ‘critical-mass’ and therefore with the higher volume they would be able to operate a much reduced operating cost. The US Tech company intended to get at least their fair share of their suppliers cost reductions.
It didn’t work out that way because the company didn’t appreciate an underlying issue. While their way of measuring the end-to-end service seemed logical enough by splitting the end-to-end measure by each supplier they assumed the real delivery to the customer would be the same.. you guessed it, the reality was far from the functional company measures would have you believe.
The real end-to-end service delivery metrics were falling well short of their promised service levels to customers but they were disguised by the functional metrics which made it all look good. A case of the feasible parts making an infeasible whole. And who would know? because the US tech firm had set up their own people to monitor how each company was performing Individually without understanding how everything combined to provide the end user with a seamless service. Microscoping management methods used when telescoping ones were needed.
So here’s what we did to help our client leverage a sticky situation into a growth opportunity.
First we spoke to company that was looking to reduce the number of suppliers and listened carefully to their plans to reduce the operational costs of running it’s end-to-end service provision
When faced with the US tech companies selection panel our client’s COO did something most unexpected. He said “actually, we want to put the price point up.”
He quickly followed with an offer to show how his company could knock two days off overall product delivery time across North America. He also highlighted delays in the technical diagnosis centers, the inventory planning, the five logistics transportation companies and the five engineering companies who tasked engineers to problems.
Intrigued, his client asked him to explain.
Before we go any further let me explain how we got to this point. It really is odd for a supplier like my client to propose a solution that was outside of their core competency.
Indeed, when I first started working with the COO’s company, they were in a bind. They couldn’t afford to cut their margins enough to make it into the top 3 providers. They also knew that not landing the contract would throw 2,000 people out of work.
They needed to change their business model.
Our solution was to give them a new way of thinking, and a new way of competing.
Instead of competing as a diagnosis centre we decided to compete as a whole value chain. Monitoring and measuring how all the downstream activities including their own met the customer’s needs.
The result? They discovered that while all the companies in the value chain were meeting their functional goals the end to end service was nowhere near where the measurement system was telling them they were.
They went further and were able to devise a system where they could predict the actual end-to-end repair service down to zip code and product type and highlight the companies that were causing the delays.
It goes without saying that this client already knew about their dissatisfied customers. They just didn’t know how to drill down to find out why this was happening. Our client’s company did know because we taught them how to do it.
And because they offered something their competitors couldn’t, they got a contract despite the higher costs. As a footnote, nothing succeeds like success: their company not only kept their 2,000 employees but also doubled that number shortly soon after.
The key to this was looking at the end-to-end business as a whole including all other companies in the value stream and making the decision to compete on a value stream basis not just an outsourced functional basis.
In order to do this they had to become more adaptable and highly inventive and make it a core competency. It was clearly time for them to not only think outside the box but work outside ot it.
If you want to learn more about how Lloyd Parry can work with your company to stay competitive, please get in touch.
So you’ve got duplicate internal services in your organisation. Simple enough to just share them with others in the company, right?
Great thinking! Too bad it’s not that easy to execute in the real world.
The upside is really impressive: you get to cut costs significantly while improving services. And it can be done. It just takes excellent leadership and an ability to change your organisational culture.
However, there are a number of errors and assumptions that can cause a shared services implementation to fail.
Our Sense and Respond 3.0 Adaptive-Lean Shared Services masterclass looks closely at how to use Sense and Respond – Lean and Adaptive Thinking as a framework for shared service implementations.
We draw on our recent experience implementing LEAN service transformations at Lego and SAP to help organisations get the most bang for their buck from streamlining and improving shared services.
We use the REAL challenges faced by companies as they made radical improvements to provide real-life context for attendees. The result are takeaways and implementation strategies that can save thousands or even millions in lost or wasted revenue.
Despite the currency of the cases we draw from, we continually adapting Lean service because customer and business needs change rapidly in today’s market.
Although the masterclass is designed for Senior Leaders in HR, Operations, Finance, Customer Service, IT and Senior Teams, it is invaluable for anyone interested in successful shared services transformation.
Key Learning Outcomes:
- What exactly is LEAN and why does it matter for people planning shared services – Lean is now a familiar concept to many business leaders, but do we all have an accurate and complete understanding? It’s not about cutting costs, it’s about delivering value to customers
- How to create a clear line of sight between what you and your staff do every day, and what the customer actually values
- Measuring the right things in the right way – CORE LEAN principles – how to use the principles and tools to keep you focussed on what matters to your customer, and why this is especially vital when planning/running shared services
- How to collect the information that you need to make good quality decisions, and how to tell the difference between quality, robust, reliable information and the rest of the stuff you’ll get
- Managing resources during the transition to shared services – do you have enough people are they doing the right things – LEAN is likely to radically transform what people do every day, how do you manage this?
- Measuring internal and external customer outcomes and using this information to keep evolving
A few years back when we were working with a UK police force on a Lean transformation project, we put some staff from the IT department in police cruisers with officers for ride-alongs.
In one instance an IT person was able to witness first hand how a communications failure turned a minor neighborhood incident into a major tie-up of police resources.
First some basic info about the command and control system at headquarters. The system handled and recorded incoming information from 999 calls before assessing the situation and dispatching officers to the scene.
In this instance the IT person was in the car when a call come over the radio about 12 youths on a residential street squaring off against each other with sticks and bats. The officer, realizing he’s closest to the scene, asks for more information.
But the dispatcher comes back on and tells him that his system just died and no more information is available.
So the officer sizes up the situation based on the information he has. He’s in a car with some IT guy and he has to decide if he’s going to deal with 12 people swinging bats alone. Well of course he wasn’t go to go into that kind of a situation alone. He’s a police officer, not Batman.
So he calls for backup and goes to a location near the residential area where he will rendezvous with his back up and prepare to engage. In total there are five patrol cars, ten officers, a dog handler, two big dogs of course and a Land Rover.
They’re ready to go in like gangbusters.
And they do. But what they discover is a little different than what the initial report had indicated. Instead of a dozen youths ready to wreck the neighbourhood, they find one drunk guy with a baseball bat yelling at his neighbours from a window in his house.
It sounds like a funny anecdote. But it was really a disaster. Because of the system failure at headquarters, ten officers in five patrol cars were pulled away from other duties. Not to mention the police dogs and their handler.
I say it was a disaster because if those resources were needed anywhere else during that time frame, they would have been unavailable. And given the life and death nature of some police calls, it could have resulted in a very bad outcome at another crime scene.
In the end it was a simple matter of the system being down for five minutes. A quick call to IT and it was fixed. While a solution was eventually put in place to eliminate such outages, it brought home to the police force management just how important their IT department was to the organisation. And it showed the IT person in the car how important their contribution was to keeping the streets safe.
More specifically, the IT department staff saw the importance of ensuring what they do had a clear line of sight to customer outcomes. The IT department changed their attitude towards their work and made them see their IT job as more than just fixing the force’s technology. In fact, they came to see it was about keeping police officers and the public safe.
They put in a system to link all IT work that included not a strong view as to why the smooth running of the system was key to customer outcomes.
When I was working with a UK police force on their Lean transformation, I had an interesting opportunity to speak to their IT department about the importance of IT and how it makes the force more effective.
What I found in some cases was terrifying and comic in equal doses.
A police officer was interviewed about his police issue mobile phone. He told us that when it broke down it had to go away for two to five weeks. He also noted that at the time of our conversation it had been out for repair four times in five months.
But that’s not the comic or terrifying part.
The officer was asked if he used backup phones. He said he would but they were all out for repair.
So what was his working solution? He used his wife’s phone which was, of course, against departmental regulations. When pressed on this apparent flaunting of protocols, he simply shrugged ‘What would you have me do?’.
So the terrifying and comic part? He was the head of the Rapid Firearms Response Unit. The head of this important part of tactical response policing could have been using his wife’s cellphone during a crisis. Comic and yes, terrifying.
How did it come to be that their communications were in such disarray? Well, the repair process was handled by three different organisations: the IT department, an outsourced repair company with a one-week turnaround service agreement and another company that supplied replacement phones.
The issue, ironically, was communication: none of these departments talked to each other. They were also measured against different targets, there was no context provided to the companies as to the purpose of the service and certainly none taken as to the impact on the customers: the police in the first instance, and most importantly, the public.
This story has a happy ending however. The tale made its way to the Police Commissioner and service for the entire process was brought back in house. Most crucially, the performance indicators were changed from repair times to the standard of no officers being without authorized communications devices.
This story had a long tail in that it set in motion a whole new service strategy from object focussed to customer focused. Things change when you understand and are committed to the customer’s purpose.
To find out how Lloyd Parry can transform your organisation to more effective service parameters, please get in touch.
Working with Lean over the years, I’ve grown to take special delight in seeing how customer engagement changes, develops and then becomes essential in the growth of an organisation.
WOW! Is an independent award organisation that rewards great customer service solely through customer compliments. That’s it. No supervisor input.
Whether you’re part of the Lean universe or not, the WOW! Awards are an event every business can look to for examples of how improve the customer contact experience.
The awards are a celebration of the best in customer service and experience – something that a lot of businesses have lost site of in the age of random cost-cutting and automation.
As an organisation, WOW! created a set of tools to easily facilitate the flow of information from customer to business and then to the employee responsible for the positive customer experience.
I see WOW! and similar organisations as crucial to Lean in that they provide a useful mechanism to not only smooth the feedback process but turn it into positive employee feedback and rewards.
And by championing the finalists for these awards they provide a status in great customer service delivery usually reserved for management success.
The Gala Awards will be held on November 28.
To learn more about the WOW! Organisation and Gala, please click here.
If you’re interested in learning about how LloydParry can put your company into the upper tier of customer-focussed business success, please get in touch.
I’m heading to the European Lean Educator’s Conference (ELEC) taking place September 16 and 17 in Buckingham. On Tuesday I gave you my run down of sessions for Day 1. Today I’m going to share my Day 2 picks.
To me, conferences such as this one are important for all who attend but especially business people taking in the world of Lean with an eye to bringing it to their companies. They get to talk with fellow attendees, speakers and presenters about the current state of Lean and Agile efforts as well as further applications in the future.
I’ve come up with a list of sessions that I’m looking forward to attending on Day Two, September 14. My Day One picks were in a previous blog, which can be found here.
09:00 – 9:40
Mark Pyne (Ingersoll Rand, Ireland)
Pursuit of Excellence in Shared Services: A Case Study of IRI
Abstract: “Much of today’s thinking and organisational design can be attributed to the work of Frederick Taylor. His obsession for micromanagement sparked the ‘one best way’ mentality of performing work. Organisations, just like science, are now split up into many distinct disciplines. Divide and conquer is assumed to be the best approach. This ‘command and control’ methodology is often supported by automated telephone and workflow management systems.”
I am particularly interested in shared services, as I have worked in the area for some time. I am hoping for something a little more than process flow and simply removing waste.
9:40 – 10:30
Owen Berkeley-Hill (Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India)
Getting Lean back on track
Abstract: “The nature and definition of Lean is always the subject of energetic debate at the many Lean watering holes. Sadly, there is little consensus around what that definition actually is. This presentation argues for a broader interpretation of Lean which could be the basis for a new approach to leadership development.”
Sounds like it might provoke an interesting debate on where Lean is right now and where it needs to develop.
Ameer Robertson(New York City Hospitals, USA)
Deep Lean Learning: How the Legal Service Industry can reinvent itself for long-term sustainability
Abstract: “Through innovative service models, non-lawyers have acquired large segments of the legal service market from legal practitioners. To compete, law firms have turned to limited applications of Lean. But to sustain viability, lawyers must engage in “deeper Lean learning,” and utilize Lean to its fullest capability. In doing so, law firms will acquire the capacity to proactively adapt to changes in the marketplace and ultimately reinvent the delivery of their services for long-term sustainability.”
Legal Services like any knowledge based work is an excellent area for Lean and Agile thinking, however it’s often made to sound and function like Lean manufacturing – which takes Lean backwards in these types of environments. I wonder if they came across the same obstacles as I have? I wonder more how they addressed those challenges?
Dr Mads Bruun Larsen (University of Southern Denmark)
A model and method for customisation of Simulation Games
Abstract: “Most simulation games played at training sessions use general wordings and a fixed flow and operations. In some cases, this is a serious obstacle to transferring learning from the game to real life. A model and method is presented as a first step toward fast customization for each individual session.”
You can never go wrong with a simulation game in your tool chest – keeping it on hand to modify, or developing new ones seems to be the life of the Lean Practitioner. Being able to conjure one at a moment’s notice has got me out of many tricky situations. Indeed my own Adaptability Simulation Workshop is a very popular exercise with a few of my more forward thinking clients.
So that’s the rundown on how I’ll be spending my time at the ELEC conference this year. Of course the one session I failed to mention was my own at 14.50-15.30 on Day 2, September 14.
Designing organisations that work for Lean and Agile thinking people will demonstrate the importance of organisational design and route-map sequencing to create conducive work-climates for Lean and Agile thinkers.
Please add it to your schedules. I hope to have a good crowd.
If you think I missed an important session, please add it to the comments.
The benefits of changing a work culture are well known. When people talk to us about change their questions aren’t about “why” it needs to happen, but rather “the how Inside Climetrics.”
How you change the work climate within your organisation
At Lloyd Parry we use a proprietary system called Climetrics. And as part of our comprehensive change programs we first take the time to understand the the alignment between the following areas:
- Operating strategies
- Organisational structures
- Managing practices
- Delivery capabilities
- General work climate (i.e. operational performance and behaviour)
Then, a general assessment is made to determine the overall operational impact on workplace perceptions, and the ability of employees to serve customers better in the following areas:
- Ability to define and measure customer value and end-to-end delivery performance metrics.
- Ability to share customer data and operational performance information at all levels within the organisation.
- Ability of the organisation to introduce innovation and improvement.
- Leadership styles and drivers at each level within the organisation.
- Particular attention will be paid to the processes and practices used to define new customer business, create a service design, implement, test and deploy.
Managerial practices are also reviewed in the following areas:
- Customer and client management
- Management review practices
- Workforce management practices
- Change and improvement practices
- MIS practices
- Knowledge management and reuse
- Reward and recognition policies
- Service-level-agreement regimes
- Process standardisation and reuse
- Staff targets and goals
- Management targets and goals
Then we conduct interviews, observe work demonstrations and review operational reports.
And now the change program takes shape
Up until now we’ve spent most of our time doing a deep dive that shows us at a very detailed level how the organisation functions (or dysfunctions!) Using this information when can then prepare and configure a subsequent on-line survey to collect staff and management perceptions, feelings and behaviours.
Is it that easy? No.
All organisations are different and those differences and how we adapt to them ourselves is part of the Lloyd Parry International expertise.
To learn more about Climetrics and how Lloyd Parry can make your organisation more profitable, please get in touch by clicking here.
How often do you leave your home and head out without checking the weather? I’ll wager that it’s not too often.
The weather affects how you plan your day – from the clothes you choose to the mode of transport you take to get to your destination.
Imagine setting off to work on a gorgeous morning, but a little on the chilly side. You choose to walk. On a day like this you know it might take you a little over an hour at a pleasant pace. So you set off. About 20 minutes in the sky opens up with a torrential downpour as the wind picks up and pushes against you.
When you finally get to the office, you’re 25 minutes late, soaking wet and exhausted. All you want to do is sit down and rest.
If only you’d checked the weather.
Of course this rarely happens in real life. We check the weather, choose appropriate clothing and make certain we get to our destination, rested and ready to engage.
Yet it happens in the business world all the time. Companies set goals and jump in without a proper preparation based on what the their internal climate is. So instead of achieving the goal, they set out on an exhaustive and fruitless adventure.
Does your forecast call for failure?
We’ve developed an organizational diagnostic called Climetrics® that takes the temperature across a company and predicts where the storm-centres are most likely to pop-up. It’s a climate survey that explores how management activities, measurement systems, structures, and delivery capabilities combine to create an adaptive work-climate that results in high-performance and long-term profitability.
A Climetrics® survey is structured to surface the impact of management choices through a careful analysis of the perceptions, feelings and behaviours of staff and management.
In addition to assessing behaviours, the survey provides insight into the influence on the work-climate as a result of management choices in the following areas:
• How organisational design impacts collaboration
• Managing practices such as continuous-improvement and governance
• End-to-end service performance
• Service quality
• Innovation and change ability
• Customer centricity
• Leadership style
You wouldn’t leave home without being prepared for the day and you don’t want to move forward on your projects without making certain you’re going to be able to weather all the storms.
To learn more about Climetrics®, please get in touch with us at Lloyd Parry International.