On 1 April 2007, New Future Formula set out on its journey. Over the years, we have assisted companies create convincing and lasting productivity gains in all parts of the organization. Over 10 weeks, we are sharing with you the essence of our learnings plus tips and tricks from our first decade. We wish to provide you with inspiration to continue your journey towards the top. Over the past weeks we have mapped processes (1), found potentials (2) and reflected (3). Now the time has come to decide on improvement projects. And so that is this week’s theme.
New Future Formula, 10 years
We have the formula for continuously improving effectiveness
4. Decide on the improvements...
On 1 April 2017 New Future Formula set out on its journey. Much has happened since then. New Future Formula has been dedicating the past few years to fine-tuning the many approaches to making business enterprises work in a better, faster and more intelligent manner. We call this “CBI – Continuous Business Improvement” because it embraces the entire organization and supports a variety of already on-going effectiveness-enhancing initiatives. CBI can therefore improve revitalization of on-going programmes, if this is required. Our CBI is also the ideal tool for companies looking for a simple yet powerful structure and sturdy tools for their future effectiveness-enhancing programme. We are celebrating our 10-year anniversary by serving you, the readers of New Future Formula's newsletter, 10 easily digestible titbits.
Using the CBI formula, organizations continuously achieve three things:
- Documented bottom-line revenue improvements to the tune of 4-16 %.
- Year by year, improvements that the customers can understand and which make sense for the staff.
- Year by year, people with enhanced skills and improved systems to see and to carry through improvements.
You know what you want and why (0). You have mapped processes and products (1). You have identified potentials for your possible harvesting projects (2). And you have identified a number of possible sowing projects (3). By now you have finally reached the point when you get to pinpoint specific improvement projects.
You are now faced with the challenge to decide on a suitable volume of improvement projects. The overall portfolio must be in agreement with the organizational change capability, live up to short-term and long-term goals for your CBI efforts while at the same time making your organization sufficiently mature to work even more with CBI in future. If possible, the same individuals must pinpoint and realize the improvement projects. This will ensure ownership and with this both learning and results.
The above lines convey a simple enough concept but experience has proven that the process “to decide on a suitable volume of improvement projects” is a minefield. There is after all a reason why many initiatives to continue improving do not live up to expectations. Below I will let you in on three pieces of advice on how to avoid some of the most immediate pitfalls in the process of deciding on projects.
Clear, common goals for the next 4-6 months.
Many companies have a nicely worded and stimulating strategic platform and may even also have a good general ‘purpose, objective and direction’ strategy for their CBI process. Management, however, often lists imprecise goals for the improvement work to be carried out in the immediate future. There is no stimulating edge and no space for local interpretation. A good example of a general goal is “Within 100 days, our improvement projects will result in 10% more repurchases, 25% fewer complaints and about 4% lower costs.” This allows for edge as well as space.
2. Let CBI be an umbrella for all important improvements in the organisation.
Way too often, management accepts an infinite number of parallel agendas for the improvements.
The lean, the QA, the HSE and the HR managers are given sufficient leeway to follow their very own agendas for the changes to be introduced. Also the operating functions, sales, R&D and the shop floor each follow individual agendas. At the same time, the CFO has set in motion a restructuring project. And the IT department runs a major ERP/SAP program. Each and every leader follows his or her personal agenda for change in whatever manner this person chooses. All done with the best of intentions, of course, but the outcome is an organization almost succumbing to the burdens and consequently generating more confusion than improvement. One way of overcoming huge volumes of change is to define an environment, a common language and a transparent framework that you use to decide on and carry through improvements. This is exactly what you can achieve through CBI. CBI can provide you with the framework that allows where you can have a ‘positive brawl’ over a week or two twice or three times a year. In the course of these few weeks, candidate projects are to compete for appointment as the projects to be realized over the next 100 days. Once the ‘brawl’ has come to an end, losers may only by exception be accepted as new projects on the agenda.
3. Lots of freedom for the participants in the project – but subject to clear goals only defined by the project group.
Often leaders are found crawling around on all four following detailed specifications and detailed instructions. This only makes the pinpointed projects few and far between and unambitious. Instead the organizational core change agents must be allowed to pinpoint their own projects. This generates ownership. They are to define their own project goals. This generates ambition. Allow the project managers the freedom and the responsibility to identify projects for themselves and set goals. Ownership and ambitions are the corner stones of sustainable plans.
Of course there are many more pitfalls – and most likely you are familiar with many of these. However, an organization with 1 000 people can in fact time and again pinpoint 200 projects every six months – and complete 90+% with the desired outcome in 100 days. In our next posting we will look at how the clever organization manages to complete hundreds of improvement projects in parallel.
In summary, an organization working with CBI should be able to provide answers to the following questions:
- Do you every six months define clear goals for the next 4-6 months of improvement?
- Have you decided on a framework for all improvement projects for your organization?
- Do you have a model in place that allows you to prioritize the many possible improvement projects?
- Do you decide on a suitable volume of improvements? The right quantity, the right complexity and the right participants?
- Do you achieve positive ownership of the change and the result already at the point of identifying projects?
You might want to address these questions at the next the meeting of your CBI steering group.
New Future Formula is dedicated to working with CBI - Continuous Business Improvement.
Together with our client:
- We design, introduce and support new CBI programmes.
- We inspire, evaluate and improve existing CBI programmes.
The CBI formula is our framework. To begin with we look at purpose, objectives and direction. Through continuous process improvements, employee development and system optimization we create a steady flow of results. This allows us to spread out the continuous effectiveness efforts to all corners of the company and its life.
Since 2007, New Future Formula has completed more than 8,300 improvement projects for more than 80 organizations with a documented effect on the bottom line in excess of EUR 148.6 million. In the process, more than 500 people have received training.