In good management consulting it's not only the results that matter, but also the way those results are achieved.
This page describes our philosophy and general approach to consulting.
To optimize is to improve performance by making the most effective use of the people and systems you already have. If you are envisioning a performance improvement, it’s worthwhile to explore this option before you spend a fortune on the complete overhaul or replacement of your people or systems.
Why do we have this bias? A couple of reasons:
Small changes in behavior or systems can lead to large changes in accomplishment. The clarification of a job role, better information sharing, an improved policy, or the elimination of a production bottleneck, can result in meeting or exceeding the performance goals you set without a full blown reengineering effort. Don’t assume you need to spend a lot of money on the fix to get a dramatic improvement.
Targeted, incremental improvements give you enough time to evaluate those improvements and make adjustments, with minimal disruption to your business.
Reengineering efforts sometimes cause the loss of best practices.
But when the situation calls for it, we can and will recommend larger, more systemic changes. If you are already engaged in a large reengineering effort, such as the implementation of new enterprise software, we can help insure your success by optimizing the new system. Examples of this could be training, changes to job roles, report development, or ensuring increasing the adoption rate of the new system.
By alignment we mean our alignment with your directives, and the alignment of the project team members (including HPE) with the project, and each other.
Our alignment with you includes making project progress visible to you. If project priorities change, we will adapt and inform you regarding any project impacts.
This will give you a clear basis for project decision-making as the initiative progresses.
Team alignment means that members all have the same vision and are motivated to accomplish that vision. A well-orchestrated project itself is an important source of reinforcement to the team. Seeing progress towards the project goals motivates team members to contribute. We also make it clear we are there to support the team, not to judge them.
Precise solutions are superior to generic programs that are easier to deliver but don't produce the desired result.
we specify the gap precisely so we know what we are trying to fix and why. This also provides us with a performance baseline.
our cause analysis stays focused on the defined gap, so we don't fix some process elements simply because they can be fixed.
the solution set will directly address the identified causes
we can then compare post-solution performance to the performance baseline for an objective evaluation.
Precise solutions are less expensive, require less effort, and are more effective.
Being solutions neutral is important. Everyone knows the old adage: “If all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.” What this means for you is that any specialist you hire has a natural bias towards both a performance diagnosis and a solution that involves their specialty.
Imagine you have an employee turnover problem and you solicit the advice of specialists:
"Poor employee training can result in turnover, I recommend a new training plan."
"Your pay bands have not been updated in several years, and your total compensation is below the average market rate. I recommend a new compensation plan."
"Studies show that leadership is an important factor in employee retention. I recommend a new leadership program."
Now, these services could provide value, but will they close the performance gap? Maybe not. Without performance diagnosis, these can turn out to be "answers in search of a question". In some cases these programs are bought without any clear goal in mind, or determination to find out if it worked.
Because we are performance improvement generalists, we allow the nature of the performance gap to dictate the solutions. This is not to say we don’t have specialties, you can read about them in our Performance Consulting section, but we also have the capability to make recommendations where another party (your internal resources or a 3rd party vendor) is best suited to implementation the solutions.
For more information on hiring generalists vs. hiring specialists, we recommend this timeless article: Generalist or Specialist, Which Do I Consult?
Support at Any Project Phase
We can adapt to your current situation in the kind of assistance we offer.
You have an innovative performance improvement idea or goal. No one has done much work on it so far. HPE can help establish the goals and the approach to your idea. We can help you do the right things, not just do things right.
An important project has been launched, but you want an insurance policy, an outside eye to make sure all the performance aspects are comprehensively and expertly addressed. HPE can provide the guidance and expertise to guarantee process and human performance improvements.
Supporting an existing initiative, especially one not reaching its objectives, requires an extra skill, a social awareness. This social awareness includes a respect for what has been done thus far, and the people that have done it. We can support an initiative that may be getting off track while preserving the existing contributor’s sense of ownership. Team members will know we are there to support them, not to judge them.
You recently closed out a project and your staff has moved on to other duties. Did it work? Has your intervention had the desired performance effect? Is it worth knowing if it did? We can evaluate initiative results (both behavioral and financial) so you can report your success to the leadership team. And if needed, we will recommend some refinements that will increase your initiative's return on investment.
Some executives request that we solve the presented problem as quickly as possible. Others prefer that we use the project as a hands-on, deeper learning opportunity for the staff that report to them. We have had the distinct pleasure of seeing many of the staff we work with get promoted within a short period after project completion. Staff on the project team will gain a greater understanding of the larger system in which they work, as well as the skills required in process ownership.
Our role in your performance improvement initiative can change by phase, based on your preferences. At any project phase we can DO, LEAD, SUPPORT, or HANDOFF.
Doing is being responsible for producing the project deliverables ourselves, leveraging employee expertise as needed.
Leading is us still being responsible to you for the project outcome, but coaching your staff to do the bulk of the analytical work themselves. This is a useful hands-on opportunity to teach staff new problem solving skills.
Support means we are NOT in charge of the project, but rather taking direction from an internal project manager you specify. Many clients prefer we have this sort of facilitative role so that the improvement team must take full ownership of the results.
Handoff is when you want your team to handle certain phases on their own. For example, we might handoff portions of implementation to you and your staff, and return for the evaluation phase.
Part of the Performance Conversation includes making preliminary choices about HPEs role by phase. There are a few combinations of these options we have found to be most effective. We can explain the pros and cons of the various roles we can play in your performance improvement project.