When do you review your business goals, objectives and practices? How often does a business ask “Do you really need to do that” or is it a fluffy exercise that to justify a report? If there is a belief we have too much data is it also true that we produce endless reports measuring detail that is often glanced at but hardly ever acted upon?
The client brief was to get the new strategy understood and embedded into the OpCo’s. After 12 months the Board felt that strategy was not working.
We love these assignments. We refer to these assignments as “ landing the plane” The analogy works like this the strategy is a very sleek plane often designed by the best in the business. But there is no pilot to ‘land the plan’ that’s where we come in. And the ‘fly by wire” is often found in very odd places.
It’s surprising what a simple exercise uncovers. The problem was that the strategy agreed in the boardroom wasn’t working in the OpCo’s. We knew the business was heavily processed lead which the Board had identified was impacting on business speed and agility. The Board knew what was required but the plan wasn’t working. The OpCo’s were struggling to adapt.
Finding the ‘common currency’ was the key. Ironically ‘reporting in’ was the answer…or as it turned out, that was the problem. As we listened to conversations and tested outcomes, we quickly grasped that everyone knew their own KPI’s as well as their teams. The collaboration wasn’t the issue. In fact, teamwork and team performance were very high, culture was the problem.
The OpCo’s were trying to implement the strategy but the day to day performance wasn’t changing. Measurement over a six month period confirmed that there was a reluctance to ‘let go’ of the old ways.
On closer examination, it became clear there was a concern that essential information would be lost in the change which could materially affect the team and individual performance. This belief permeated across, individuals, team, OpCo’s and geographies.
With this client, it was in the reports. So a simple plan was devised to streamline the reporting process. So we created the ‘so what’ measure. The measure was “That’s a great report…but so what”
We started by asking three questions. Why was a particular report needed? What were the benefits of a particular report? How does that report affect the outcome? We know that despite the popular outcry, business people love reports. Some reports give clarity, others give purpose but not many actually change the outcome. We also wanted to know how frequently a report ‘touched’ after completion?
We then devised a plan to ‘pause’ the internal business. All the stakeholders were asked to identify their primary reports. Those reports were then scored by a peer group. Each report had to achieve a designated score in three broad areas:
- Value to Business performance
- Value to team measurement
- Value to individual satisfaction
Teams were asked to only use those primary reports over an agreed month. The only objective was to determine if decision making was easier to conclude, the same as before or harder than necessary.
One quarter later 25% of the reports were either amalgamated, streamlined or ‘parked’. 6 months later those parked reports were trashed.12 months later the strategy, process, and toolkits were embedded within the operational level. Today the strategy is alive and kicking and the ROI is improving.
Sometimes you’ve got to thin the weeds to harmonise the environment.