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Delivering a two-day workshop on problem solving and create a team to address issues within the business

Delivering a two-day workshop on problem solving and create a team to address issues within the business

17th of August, 2020

This assignment was to develop and deliver a two-day workshop on problem-solving and continuous improvement to a multi-site, multi-functional team. The purpose was to create an engaged and empowered team that would have the skills and confidence to address issues within the business.

The Company

The customer was a waste recycling business, with sites across England. The company has dry waste recycling facilities processing non-hazardous waste commodities and products from both industrial and domestic waste sources. 

The Challenge

The Company was suffering a major issue in its ability to collect outstanding debt from its customers. In the last twelve months, the value of aged debt that was greater than ninety days beyond agreed terms had increased ten-fold with the increase accelerating in the last 3 months. The total overdue was in excess of £5million with the value greater than ninety days beyond agreed terms was over £2million.

The Owner had identified this as a significant and serious risk to the business and required immediate remedial action which the company was struggling to implement.   

There was very little by way of knowledge and skills in the company in problem-solving and implementing process improvements. There was a recognition that the benefits of a lean continuous programme running in the sister company could be leverage to examine this particular issue.

A request was made for a two-day workshop to be developed to bring a together staff from across functions to form an improvement team to have a high impact upon the immediate issue and to develop skills to tackle similar business problems in the future.

The Action

A detailed plan was developed for the delivery of the workshop with advice provided to the company on the selection of delegates for the relevant sales to cash functions.

Careful consideration was given to the mix of formal learning, discussion of the issues and the application of lean continuous improvement tools and techniques. It was also a key objective for the workshop to start will a clear problem statement from the Managing Director and Site leaders. This would provide the context and focus for the team going forward.

The learning sessions comprised topics on culture, lean awareness and tools, problem-solving, processing mapping, SIPOC and Kaizen teams. Particular care was taken to introduce the delegates to the core principles of value-added and wasteful activities and bottlenecks, flow and overburden.

Issues and opportunities related to culture were collected and fed back to the Site leaders for review.

The workshop provided opportunities for facilitated discussions to provide information on issues and problems for all perspectives. This yielded valuable subjective data. In addition, the delegates worked in three separate sessions utilising brainstorming, process mapping and SIPOC techniques to document the end-to-end process and to identify waste and opportunities for change. Over two hundred of these issues and opportunities were identified and placed upon the process map. This data will be invaluable for future root cause analysis. 

This exercise helped everyone to understand the complexity of the overall process and how errors upstream affected cash collection and customer service.

The final element of the workshop was the formation of the Kaizen team, agreement upon roles and the definition of next steps, meeting schedule and actions to collect and analyse objective data.

The impact on the Company

A key objective to create engagement, involvement and empowerment was delivered.

Training was provided to a team that had no previous knowledge of lean continuous improvement in core lean methods, tools and behaviours that can be deployed by the team to deliver the improvement action plan.

The skills of staff have been developed in problem identification by defining wasteful and poorly performing activities currently affecting performance. In addition, there was an enhanced use of data analysis to understand underlying issues and provide opportunities for improvements to be made. Over two hundred issues and opportunities were documented and direction was given into how to rank the impact upon the problem and prioritise actions.  

Morale and confidence were increased as evidenced by two members of the team requesting additional training and mentoring with a view of becoming Lean Champions for this project and future business improvement projects.

A high impact improvement team was formed with team roles, duties and responsibilities being defined and agreed. The method of data sharing using Microsoft Teams was implemented at the workshop and agreement was made upon meeting schedules and working on tasks outside of formal meetings.

Finally, this workshop and the improvement team formed is planned to be the catalyst for continuous operational improvements projects within the business going forward.

As a result of the successful impact of the workshop, the Company has agreed on the second phase of support for the new team that will assist them in tackling the issues and implementing changes across the order to cash processes.


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