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Our Approach

Our Insights

From our consulting experience, we have come to some fundamental insights about work and performance improvement: 

Our Insights
  1. Results must be validated. 

  2. A rapid series of small improvements tends to work better than 1 big (system-level) change. 

  3. Improvement Teams need a standardized but flexible improvement process. 

  4. Employee involvement and ownership of solutions is essential to sustaining changes. 

  5. Factor in the “change maturity” of your group or organization. 

  6. In looking for causes, start with the business process and performance environment, not the performers. 

Cosulting Principles

Consulting Principles 

In good management consulting it's not only results that matter, but also the way those results are achieved. Here we describe our approach and consulting philosophy.

We Adapt to Your Culture & Framework

You may have an established process for dealing with change, or how projects are governed. We will adapt our language and our process, even our forms and worksheets, to fit yours. And we will suggest additional ideas for how to approach change you can incorporate going forward. We help the team deliver results while still getting their day to day work done. 


Specialists tend to see problems through the lens of their own specialty. At HPE, we let the nature of the performance gap dictate the solution. We do not steer the solution in the direction of a particular method, training program, or software. Being solutions-neutral is one of the more important reasons organizations retain consultants with an outside perspective. You don't want "an answer in search of a question".  

Improvements Should Be Strategic...  

Some companies encourage ANY sort of improvements to a job, or task. While programs of this sort can be motivating to the team, they don’t often result in an economic return to the organization. In order for improvements to result in financial gain, they must be as part of a strategy for an entire value stream. Only then will Flow improve, increasing customer satisfaction and profitability. 

...With Local Creativity.

Process and performance improvement has both top-down, and bottom-up factors: 

  • The leadership provides the “what” (operational goals)

  • The team provides the “how” (improvements to the value stream). 

Harness the creativity of the people closest to the work (the associates) to achieve strategic ends. 

Result Validation & Project Transparency

Fast, incremental cycles of improvement during the project mean you can always see what is working and what is not working. Its also apparent to management how much actual progress is being made towards the performance goal. You can watch which countermeasures have the most benefit as your organization moves towards the future state. Teams will make regular progress reports. Leadership has the opportunity to give periodic feedback. 


How We Work With Your Team

We work with your associates the same way we'd want to be worked with if consultants came in to assist us. Below are some key elements.

Associate Ownership of Results

When associates have no hand in the improvements, it can leave them not invested in the future of the system. This in turn can lead to old habits creeping back, which jeopardizes long term success. Applying Lean Thinking changes the roles of employees. Their new role is:

  • Do your job

  • Improve your job. 


By giving associates the primary responsibility for making the changes, they gain a sense of ownership. The improvements will be also be standardized and sustained with feedback, motivation, and knowledge support. This means you need to be ready to act on their findings and designs, if the business case they build supports it.  


HPE facilitates change, we don’t direct it. Change is facilitated through a kaizen process. Kaizen is Japanese for continuous improvement.


A cross-functional kaizen team is established, and HPE provides guidance at each step, from modeling the current state of the target system, through the team deciding the future state and what it will take to get there, to implementation and evaluation of results. You as the project sponsor, will remain involved as the team presents its results at each stage of the project for your feedback and encouragement. 


In order to elicit creative problem solving, you must allow the associates to engage in some trial and error, and let them self-correct as part of continuous improvement. 

Associate Learning and Development

Process improvement is a learning opportunity for improvement team members. Each phase opens with a short training, and then team members are set on the performance gap. Associates will gain a deeper understanding of the system in which they work, and the impact of their performance on customers. They also learn how to work more effectively with associates from other functions in the company. Finally, they learn to use process and performance improvement tools to solve future problems.  

Collaborate On-Site or Remotely

We will travel anywhere in the English speaking world to assist you. And since performance consulting is primarily knowledge work, we can work with the team via the video conferencing application you prefer, such as WebEx, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and others.  

Choosing Improvement Projects 

The overall question for you as a manager is… “Where should I allocate resources within my sphere of influence to have the greatest organizational benefit?” Below are important factors in answering this question.


Select an Organizational Performance Gap

A performance gap is the difference between where you are and where you want to be, in terms of productivity, quality, cost, customer satisfaction, risk, innovation, or strategic position. Gaps can be derived from factors such as: 

  • Existing organizational strategic objectives (how will your department contribute?)

  • Customer wants and needs (do we need to adapt?)

  • Business changes (economy, consumer preferences, legislation, technology, competitors) 

  • Assessing the status of recent projects (completed, on track, struggling, tabled, etc.). Were completed projects studied to determine their impact? Are there projects that are stalled? Do some projects need to be repurposed? 

Establish Performance Targets  

What are the metrics that speak to the gaps you identified? By how much do those results need to improve? 

Having a measurable target provides a team focus from the outset, and gives you a means to evaluate your efforts. Targets can be based on previous experience, or business necessity.  

Consider Initiative Benefits & Feasibility

Which of your value streams drive the result you defined above? How will they be impacted? Is there a budget for this fix? Is the initiative either too large, or too small? (3 weeks to 6 months is a good range). What is the expected long term return on investment? 

Decide Type of Project

Click on the arrows below to see the project types you can consider.  

Business Process Improvement

Process improvement is incremental improvement in an existing business process. It is the most common type of project.


  • Increase sales by 10%

  • Reduce the cost of goods sold by 15%

  • Provide the same level of service with fewer staff. 

  • Increase customer satisfaction by 20%. 

  • Reduce average order to delivery time from 7 days to 5 days. 

Consider Optimization First

Optimizing is configuring your current  resources (both equipment and human) to achieve peak performance. Don’t assume you need to spend a lot of money on a fix to get a significant improvement. There are many opportunities to make a business process more stable, productive, or responsive, before making large capital or human resource investments. A series of targeted, incremental improvements give you enough time to evaluate those improvements and make adjustments, with minimal disruption to your business. 

Rescue Struggling or Tabled Projects

In most cases, our clients have already tried some countermeasures to the business issue, perhaps with some success short of the goal. Sometimes projects just fade away without any clear conclusion or result. This can happen when projects are very long, or new threats to the business arise, diverting organizational attention. There can also be a temptation to declare success without knowing if the countermeasures worked. 


HPE can help you assess the state of an initiative, revisit the goals, and re-activate the team with a clear mission and method. 

If you would like to discuss these and other issues, lets have a 

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