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), reflected (3) and decided improvement projects (4). Now it is time to get the work done - so the theme of this week is project realization.
New Future Formula, 10 years
We have discovered the formula for continuously improving effectiveness
5. Realize 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.
Now we have decided on the projects and ‘simply’ need to implement them. A typical project portfolio for an area with 100 people may involve 5-25 projects, which should all be completed within a maximum of 50, 70 or 100 days. Management will launch the projects at a series of kick-off sessions where they will explain the goals and importance of CBI and give an overview of the project portfolio. Usually, the CBI manager will then go into the administrative aspects, time schedules and tools.
This is the moment of truth: Will the torch of change be shining with a bright and sparkling glow? Will all the good project managers and change agents grab hold of the torch and set alight their own small and large projects with a smile and in earnest? This is the question – you will sense the answer right away. The feedback will manifest itself speedily if the groundwork is acceptable. If yes, the project teams will soon be at it.
Now, the crucial moment has come when project managers and project participants must be supported. A good starting point is to meet with them and help them understand the background of each project and support them in their efforts to create a ‘clear, common project goal’. A goal that in order to do its job must gather all involved so that differing personal points of view can unite in a joint effort. It does not matter if you are fundamentally a ‘fact-based’, ‘emotional’, ‘visionary’, ‘result-oriented’ or a ‘something entirely different’ sort of person; ideally you must be able to get the bearings of the project and of yourself in the ‘clear, common project goal’.
The project goal should not be seen as something carved in stone; instead the project team should start by analysing it and repeat the analysis and renegotiate it with the stakeholders at regular intervals. This also applies to the expected financial outcomes that are likely to swing up and down thereby reflect the progressing knowledge throughout the project.
Initially, the project team should experience massive degrees of freedom – so long as they are successful. The success of the project is the team's responsibility who must contact management immediately, if something is obstructive.
Management must provide a framework that will allow project teams to act effectively. You should pay particular attention to the seven most frequent management slips:
- Management does not accept any discussions of ‘taboos’ or taking ‘skeletons out of the cupboard’, which could otherwise be the exact element that would guarantee the project team success.
- Management turns the wrong ear when at the first complaints about insufficient time. Working with CBI is a mentally demanding process which is why many people ‘feel’ that CBI consumes far more hours than it actually does, if you measure it.
- Management does not give a high priority to CBI. They accept that operational issues and fire fighting push CBI aside. Even when it is a documented gilt-edged undertaking.
- Management does not rank the CBI work highly. Sloppy meetings in the executive committee, feeble CBI reports and no systematic kick-off, follow-up and rounding off of projects is standard. Sharing the celebration of results, projects and project managers is also forgotten.
- Management does not link CBI and finance. The finance function is an excellent partner when it comes to ensuring that the organization prioritizes, implements and maintains the right changes.
- Management does not link CBI and HR. CBI projects are all to infrequently used as a tool to prepare employees and leaders for what will become even more plentiful looking forward, change.
- Management does not support project managers in their leadership efforts as such, but instead request the use of piles of tools, milestones and techniques that merely serve as disclaimers for everybody.
Of course there are many more pitfalls – and most likely you are familiar with many of these. Implementing a host of projects is not an easy task, but an organization with 1 000 people can in fact pinpoint 200 projects every six months – and complete +90% with the desired outcome in 4 -6 days.
How good are you, as management, at implementing CBI improvements? Here are some questions to help you uncover your potential:
- Do we carry through a suitable volume of improvement projects with overall good results?
- Are we aware of our strong and weak points when it comes to implementing CBI improvement projects? Are we aware of some of the seven slips discussed above – and if yes, should we do something about them?
- Do we, as management, grant passionate and structured support to the implementation of CBI projects?
You might want to address these questions at the next the meeting of your management group.
In our next posting we will discuss what it takes to go through with an improvement process time and again. We will look at how some organizations manage to set and maintain a steady CBI course over a period of many years.
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.