1. Webinar: The secret sauce used by rapid growth businesses

    April 20, 2016 by ahmed

    No Masterchef would dare plate up a dish without the sauce – that magic ingredient that pulls together, or integrates all the different flavours into a coherent dish ready for the diner’s experience.

    Business is no different. 70% of businesses fail to achieve their true potential. And yet they are nearly there. All the components are in place. It is just they are missing the essential ‘sauce’ that provides coherence and alignment in their business.

    Our April webinar Step Up: The secret sauce used by rapid growth businesses

    covers a proven 4 step process for removing those barriers that stop them from achieving success; the secret sauce that is missing from business that no one talks about.

    Click on the link below to find out more and book your place on this 60 minute webinar.

    Step Up: The secret sauce used by rapid growth businesses

  2. Bold or Bluffing?

    February 2, 2016 by ahmed

    Originally posted on smith+co

    We know that when it comes to being bold, there comes a time where you’ll need to take a risk. So let’s ask ourselves, how bold are we really? For instance, do you really put your customers at the heart of your business? Most brands, when push comes to shove, are not that bold; not brave enough to let customers hack their products or own the customer service. But for some brands, like Lego and giffgaff, they have proven the SAS motto of ‘Who dares wins’ to be true in defining a customer experience.
    Putting your customer at the heart of your customer experience may sound common sense, but it’s often neglected. It’s easy to assume we know the intentions and the desires of our customers, but this assumption has led many brands away from engagement. Lego, a brand that actively looks to engage with its most loyal customers, were once reminded about the power of customer engagement on an epic scale.After launching ‘Mindstorms’, Lego bricks with software designed for young people to programme robotics, Lego noticed that 100,000 people hacked into the software itself and began reprogramming it. Lego naturally feared the hackers were malicious before realising it was actually their fans with software programming skills collaborating to improve the experience for all users. By listening intently Lego collaborated with these 100,000 computer programmers to build a better a product.

    Lego’s customers took the initiative and felt they didn’t need prompting or scripting to engage with the much loved brand. Those leading Lego’s customer experience had to exercise a level of trust during this process. Do you trust your customers enough to influence the brand itself?

    giffgaff too are leading the way in this level of trust, letting their customers control pricing, marketing and customer service…but more about them next month.

  3. Why Boeing Focused on Behaviors, Not Tools, When Building Its KM Strategy

    May 24, 2015 by ahmed


    Originally posted on APQP blog by Lauren Trees

    APQC recently spoke to Jyoti Patel, knowledge management strategist at Boeing, about how Boeing merged two organizations and developed common processes, knowledge management capabilities, and data system architectures while also designing a knowledge management strategy that emphasizes behaviors over tools.

    APQC: In 2010 Boeing Test Evaluation (BT&E) tasked a team with developing a consistent enterprise strategy for process management, knowledge management, and systems engineering. Why did the organization feel this was important?

    Jyoti: BT&E was a new organization that brought together teams that were previously split between Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Defense Systems, and its challenge was to integrate these teams into a cohesive, high-performing organization to implement a common approach to testing Boeing Products including airplanes, fighter jets, and rotorcraft. Fourteen core capability organizations were defined, the largest of which was ours: Instrumentation and Data Systems. My team, the technical excellence team, was charged to lead the way for BT&E and the other capabilities to integrate by developing a common language, process architecture, and KM approach. We needed specialists that understood the organization from the inside to be dedicated to this full-time, which sent a message about how important this work is.

    APQC: You began developing a strategy by gathering feedback through nationwide site visits. What was something that surprised the team that employees mentioned over and over?

    Jyoti: We found six high-level themes that were repeated across our sites in some form or another. The two that were the most surprising were (1) the desire for rotational programs within BT&E and (2) big-picture education and visibility. In retrospect, it makes sense that within a large organization like ours, where becoming compartmentalized is a natural state, people are hungry to obtain a systems level perspective. We found this to be especially true of our teams who interface with other teams a lot, and not so true of our smaller independent teams and labs.

    APQC: At Boeing you tried to avoid pitfalls that other KM programs have fallen into, such as focusing too much on tools rather than behaviors. What was the biggest struggle you had to overcome?

    Jyoti: The biggest struggle we had to overcome was shifting the learning culture to match both our current dynamic business environment and the evolving expectations of our incoming employees. Specifically, we knew we had to shift the perception that knowledge sharing, in all of its forms, is secondary to the primary work. We built a multi-channel knowledge strategy at a high level but in order to execute it, we had to meet people where they were and with what they were already doing. Informal knowledge sharing happens all around us, so part of our challenge was shining a light on the existing pockets of goodness and working with teams to enhance the effectiveness of what they were already doing, highlight how it fit into the strategy, and grow their efforts from there.

    APQC: One goal of your KM program is to facilitate knowledge transfer between new hires, future experts, and late-career employees. What approaches are you using for this?

    Jyoti: After identifying the target audiences for our knowledge transfer approaches, we combined the best of the programs that were being used both in the larger Boeing system and within our own groups. Our design build organization had a homegrown, tiered mentoring program for new hires that stood out for two reasons. First, it made new hires eligible to mentor other new hires after a year, which saved the time of our experts and leads while also fostering a teaching mindset in our early-career employees. It also recognized the need to free up the time of our most senior employees to dedicate to mentoring activities instead of strictly working projects. For future experts, we leveraged an existing enterprise approach called Enterprise Engineering Technical Mentoring (EETM) which nurtures the concept of building strategic partnerships based on critical skills between our experts and mid-career employees. Finally, for employees leaving the organization for any reason, especially retirement, we leveraged an enterprise framework called the Knowledge Transfer Toolkit. One of the underlying drivers of our team’s mission was to support the development of knowledge transfer plans for our retiring baby boomers who, in many cases, possess a lifetime of specialized knowledge. Part of our role is to consult and coach exiting employees. We customize and execute the approach based on their particular needs.

    APQC: What are the pros and cons of capturing knowledge through a wiki?

    Jyoti: Our wiki, e-Book, has over 550 pages of content and 955 users; it has been built over 6 years as an entirely grassroots effort. I’ll speak to the cons first. It’s difficult to maintain a navigational structure that works for a diverse range of users, which happens when new groups join. We want to grow the user base to drive more participation, which leads to a higher standard of content. I think striking the balance between the right number of users while maintaining relevance to your core users is key. We have a lot of content consumers, but only a subset of those are content creators/editors, which means that there is a critical mass of users for a wiki to maintain efficacy. Another con is that our engineering population values content approved by experts, so it has been a hurdle for those folks to accept an open source model. Also, it’s slow to build content momentum within an organization where the demographics are so polarized and the level of comfort using a wiki is very inconsistent among employees. This is a long-term resource with long-term gains and had to be approached accordingly.

    One of the main pros is that the wiki represents an ideal of how we should be capturing knowledge. Within our organization, the 70/20/10 rule is well known and espoused, but when the majority of people think about capturing knowledge, they use traditional methods like creating training material for a class or writing an informal document to be distributed locally. The formal training is still widely accepted as the standard despite an awareness that the world today provides better methods for on-demand access to information, and the wiki is a great example of that. Many people in our organization not only recognize this but practice it, and these people form the majority of our active users. The fact that this was a resource created for the people, by the people, without the cost of bringing in the IT organization fosters a big sense of pride for what we have created here (a community of learners connecting not just knowledge, but more importantly, people). Finally, the on-demand attribute is a huge advantage, especially in the fast-paced dynamic world of flight test. People need answers and they need them fast, 24/7, and from anywhere in the world. Our folks don’t have time to dig through servers or training material, and the wiki supports that.

    APQC: Boeing’s KM program makes serving people first a priority. What are the keys to doing that?

    Jyoti: I think that ultimately you have to place relationships and connecting people with one another above all else. People can and will use those relationships and resources for a myriad of reasons, a subset of which might be related to your organization’s core mission. For instance, InSite (Boeing’s social network) has all kinds of interest groups, some of which seem to be outside the scope of what we do. Not all of them provide a tangible ROI, but the power of the community, as well as the massive potential of connecting great ideas with people who can help make them happen, is enough to sustain their existence and promote innovation. I also believe a key to serving people first in KM is: Don’t be afraid to “design tight, run loose”. Our targets and environments are constantly changing. This means our plans, projects, and our own beliefs are all subject to change depending on the latest environmental scan. If you listen to your customers throughout your project lifecycle and use that data and your relationships to co-create a better product, you will surely succeed. For me this translates to a solid operating structure and rhythm that connects the right people to perform course corrections and ensure progress to goals as needed.

  4. A best practice of strategic planning and deployment you can apply in 2015

    December 21, 2014 by ahmed


    From left Robby Thommy and Loganathan Murthy from Al Jazeera International Catering LLC with competition judges Dr James Harrington, Professor Tony Bendell and Marc Amblard, Click here for more photos


    In this post we will share with you some lessons from Al Jazeera International Catering (JIC) LLC, winners of the 3rd International Best Practice Competition, 2014.

    The best practice title is “SPEARS Methodology for Employee Empowerment and Inculcating Excellence”.

    So what is SPEARS?

    The SPEARS methodology is a managerial process that encourages  “excellence” to be  practiced throughout the organisation. It was designed to ensure that all staff  are empowered with proper resources and knowledge for effective decision-making.

    SPEARS consists of the following:

    • S – Setting Objectives: for all functional areas and further disseminated through individual objectives for all employees.
    • P – Provide resources: required by the staff (knowledge & tools) to perform to achieve their objectives and goals.
    • E – Empower staff: to think on their feet and raise any concerns within the organization through the Corrective Action Request mechanism.
    • A – Appraise performance: of individuals on a monthly basis through the Individual Objective monitoring system to ensure transparency in performance management.
    • R – Review & Recognize: performances of individuals as per the company policy.
    • S – Share Knowledge: and create various knowledge sharing platforms to motivate creativity in the process.


    An overview of Al Jazeera International Catering’s best practice


    SPEARS has enabled JIC to achieve improvements in financial and non-financial results such as:

    • Increased employee satisfaction to 97% in 2013 from 93% in 2010.
    • Retention rate as high as 97.8%.
    • Overall staff participation levels increased to 95 % in comparison to 40% in 2010.
    • Timely customer complaint resolutions has ensured customer satisfaction levels are maintained at 96% (Overall increase by 10% when compared to 2010).
    • Some of the financial benefits of implementing SPEARS were cost reduction in operation by 10% in 2013 compared to 2010 operational cost.

    Lessons learnt:

    Some general lessons can be learnt from JIC winning the International Best Practice Competition, such as:

    1. Best practices often do not involve a technology investment: finding and applying a best practice doesn’t necessary require a big budget or investing in new high-end equipment. It could be a change in culture or management.
    2. Think out the box: the best practices you are looking for could be in a sector you have not thought about at all. Therefore, think out of the box and search for practices outside your sector. The best practice is “probably” not used by your competitors.
    3. Any organisation can apply best practices: best practices are not limited to large or well-known organisations. Whether your organisation is in manufacturing or services, young or old, or small or large it can learn from best practices and develop a winning best practice to fit its own specific circumstances.

    Full access to the best practice videos, ppts and case study of the International Best Practice Competition for 2012, 2013 and 2014 are provided to members of the BPIR.com.

  5. Hoshin Kanri Helps Toyota Improve for the Long Term

    October 21, 2014 by nick.halley

    Originally posted by  in Lean Leadership Ways

    When the 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy triggered a global recession, Toyota Motor Company lost money. In December of that year, with a photo of Toyota board members bowing in shame, a New York Times headline trumpeted, “Toyota Expects its First Loss in 70 years.” “They’ve caught the same cold that Detroit has caught,” said Christopher J. Richter, senior analyst in Tokyo at Calyon Capital Markets Asia. “Everything is going wrong for Toyota this year.”

    My reaction was anger at the idiocy of some of these articles. How could Toyota be compared to the Detroit automakers who were on the verge of bankruptcy? Why isn’t the focus on the 70 years of profitability and the huge cash reserves Toyota had piled up for a crisis just like this?

    However, I soon discovered Toyota did not share my point of view. They were very unhappy about their loss. It was not because of the loss of a few billion dollars which they could absorb like an annoying mosquito bite. It was because, through serious reflection, they found serious weaknesses.

    In Toyota Under Fire we chronicle how Toyota responded to the worst global recession since the Great Depression. Of course they downsized, but they did it by reducing a temporary workforce designed to absorb inevitable downturns in the business cycle. Management bonuses and overtime were eliminated. Less energy was used. Travel was reduced. But the jobs of long-term team members were protected.

    I visited two of the hardest hit plants—truck plants in Indiana and Texas—and watched as people frenetically worked even though about half the production workers were not needed for production, with sales down about 40% from planned capacity. They were busy because they had gone from two shifts to one shift, maintaining a high production rate, and about half of the people produced cars for four hours, while the other half observed and worked on kaizen, and then they reversed roles.

    The Japanese executive in charge of the Indiana plant calmly explained that they were investing in the future: “Every winter has its end,” he explained to me. And they were preparing. He showed data on the average age of vehicles and how more were being junked then purchased, and they needed to prepare for the expected sales boom—the boom we are now experiencing.

    Back to the first loss of money in 70 years. Toyota did a great job of utilizing and developing their human resources with very low demand, but their reflection still identified a serious problem. There had been signs the truck market was declining in the United States, where gas prices were rising. There were even signs of the recession to come given the inflated housing market. Yet, Toyota in North America had built months of inventory of trucks. When gas prices almost doubled in the U.S. during the summer before the 2008 recession, Toyota was stuck with enough inventory to stop making any large trucks and sport utility vehicles for three months; during this time they did daily training and kaizen on the shop floor. Then the recession hit and the pain continued.

    Toyota could offset a good deal of the downturn, reducing labor costs by about 20% through eliminating the variable workforce (the temporary pool) and overtime. But still 80% of costs were fixed. The board of directors set a target to reduce fixed costs to 70% so that Toyota, famous for its ability to flexibly respond just-in-time, could be ready for the next downturn.

    Turning this goal into action is one of Toyota’s strengths and it is done through the hoshin kanri process. The target of lowering the break-even point required changes in all parts of the enterprise, including product development (e.g., more standard architecture and parts, value engineering), production control (satisfying customers while leveling the schedule, even with high variety), production engineering (developing simple, slim, flexible systems, often with lower capital investment and more manual work), supply chain (collaborating with suppliers to better respond to flexible volumes), and manufacturing (launching new vehicles more quickly, simple automation for material delivery, parts kitting, changing takt while balancing workload more quickly). Thousands of organizations developed plans for achieving higher flexibility and worked through the kaizen process of experimenting and learning.

    By the time Toyota had achieved the lower break-even and billions of dollars in cost reduction, another problem eased up—the yen went from about 80 yen per dollar to about 110 yen per dollar. Since Toyota is committed to keeping jobs in Japan to benefit Japanese society, and maintain their hotbed of innovation in Japan, they benefited greatly, leading in the 2013-14 fiscal year to the most sales and the most profit of any auto company in history.

    With the huge demand of 2014, and the deep cash reserves Toyota maintains, one might expect a massive spending spree—buying companies, buying new automated equipment, buying new plants in low-cost countries. Toyota did none of those things. They continued belt-tightening and Akio Toyoda announced there would be no new plants built. The hoshin kanri goals became: Do more with less. Find ways to utilize existing capacity while improving throughput, thereby producing more autos per square foot.

    Toyota does not want creeping fixed costs to put them in the same bad situation in the next big economic downturn. They will be ready because of intensive and continuous improvement with a purpose.

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