Building engagement, involvement and empowerment in a large, multi-site organisation17th of August, 2020
The purpose of this programme was to build engagement, involvement and empowerment amongst the managers and employees of a large multi-site business in Scotland introducing and utilising lean continuous improvement methods to enable the company to form cross-functional problem solving and improvement teams.
The company had sites across Scotland and the UK. The business had changed ownership since 2017 from a family-owned business to being owned by a Capital Investment company. A new Managing Director had been appointed and with a broad background from across various industries. He was looking to introduce Lean principles to its various processes and benchmark against high performing businesses in other sectors.
There was very little by way of training and employees development for the team at the company under the previous management team. Following the appointment of the new Managing Director, there was an immediate recognition of the potential within the team and development of the team quickly became a priority for the business.
The business was looking to leverage the benefits of ownership and accountability derived from engagement, involvement and empowerment of employees. The need was for a foundation programme around world-class manufacturing/processing principles and behaviours for all employees across the sites.
The programme of lean continuous improvement was intended to provide a springboard for innovation and change within each area of the business.
The programme had an emphasis on training and twenty-three Lean Awareness training sessions were conducted across four sites in Scotland with approximately 320 employees attending these sessions. More than 80 employees from these sessions volunteered for the project improvement teams.
Issues and opportunities related to the culture were collected at these sessions and fed back to the senior management team for review.
In addition, the concept of wasteful activity was introduced, and this yielded the first inputs from employees of unproductive time within current work processes. This information was a valuable source of data for future project teams.
Two special training sessions were delivered. The first was presented to the operations shift supervisors and dealt with their role within the projects and introduced them to the problem solving and improvement processes. The second session was to members of the senior management team and presented the culture feedback and provided insights into Lean Leadership.
A lean continuous improvement project team was formed with sixteen employees from across several departments taking part in a two-day workshop. The objective was to radically transform the "Order to Cash" processes to deliver improved customer service and cash collection. This team and its three sub-teams were supported with change and lean management training, direction and support (i.e. Kotter's model, SIPOC, Process mapping and the PDCA problem-solving cycle).
All delegates worked on an Order to Cash process map that helped to identify over 80 wastes (later increased to 125), gaps in flow, bottlenecks, stress points and open loops. This exercise helped everyone to understand the complexity of the overall process and how errors upstream affected cash collection and customer service.
The second project team completed a Learning by Doing workshop (two days) with a group of eight volunteers from Operations. This learning was followed by a detailed discussion of operational issues and wastes. Eight potential improvement projects were developed during the workshop.
The overall programme was supported with project management, planning and content management.
The impact on the Company
The programme laid the foundations for business improvement by making steps towards the creation of an environment/culture of continuous improvement within the company. The key objective was to create engagement, involvement and empowerment.
The training highlighted core lean methods, tools and behaviours as well as enabling shared best practices that can be deployed within and across the business.
The skills of employees were 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.
Morale and engagement increased as evidenced by such a large percentage of employees volunteering to be involved in the problem-solving teams with the spin-off opportunity that from these volunteers future leaders can be developed.
Team working was improved with the Order to Cash team successfully working upon problems and solutions across functional boundaries with the added benefit of employees developing a wider knowledge of the business.
The Operations team gained a greater understanding of the current utilisation of resources. This will lead to increased process efficiency and the capacity for existing resources to take on more work in the future.
Competitiveness will be improved; with the business being more capable of meeting higher customer demands through improved customer service.
The projects provided a higher level of employee empowerment and confidence to solve everyday issues and make improvements; building accountability and responsibility across the business.
Finally, this programme provided a springboard for the implementation of significant change and operational improvements within the business going forward.
As a result of this impact, the company launched a second phase of the programme working on several separate improvement and change projects.