In good management consulting it's not only the 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 worksheets, to fit yours. And we will suggest additional ideas for how to approach change you may wish to incorporate going forward.
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.
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 deployed across an entire value stream, one step at a time. Only then will Flow improve, increasing customer satisfaction and profitability.
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).
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.
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 a Project
The overall question for you as an executive 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 you contribute?)
Customer wants and needs (do you know what they are?)
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.