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Walking into the conference room the following week, I bumped into Jenny and Alex, two regional managers who worked for Tyler.
“Hi there, Dean,” Jenny said, smiling and walking over.
“Just looking over the big poster,” Alex said.
“You mean the mosaic, Alex,” Jenny said, correcting him.
“Call it what you want, it is one mean looking piece of paper,” Alex replied with a smile.
“Tyler invited us in for coffee this morning, and walked us through the work you did last week. It’s very interesting,” Jenny stated. Alex nodded.
“Dean, I was just pulling your leg with the ‘mean piece of paper’ crack. I think the operations team is going to really benefit from the direction once this is completed,” Alex said, using his phone to take a picture of the mosaic to share with his onsite teams.
“It’s great to hear your feedback. Do you agree with the answers your senior leadership team gave to each of the pieces of the mosaic?” I asked.
“For the most part and overall, yes. It took us both a while to see it as Tyler explained it, but understanding and declaring who and what is key to our business makes perfect sense,” Jenny said very pointedly.
“Agreed, Jenny, and I think we may be able to stop wasting our resources on areas with little to no value as well?” Alex asked with a hopeful look.
“Well, good morning,” Rick said as he entered the conference room followed by Tyler and John.
“Good morning. I think this is our cue to get to work so you can get to work,” Jenny said to Rick.
“No need to rush off,” Rick said, looking at Jenny and Alex.
“Tyler walked us through the mosaic today, and believe me, we don’t want to get in the way of this getting done, so please, get to work,” Alex said to Rick. He and Jenny said their goodbyes, and headed for the door.
“Tyler, you shared this with Alex and Jenny?” Rick asked.
“Actually, over the past week I’ve shared it with all my regionals guys, some via Skype and others here,” Tyler replied.
“And?” Rick asked.
“They like it, and what shocked me is they get it. They truly see how this is going to help them set direction for on-site teams.”
“Good morning, Cheryl. As we are all here, I think we should move forward. As you learned last week, each piece of the mosaic takes time and energy, so let’s get going while we have both,” I said, grabbing my pencil and walking over to the white board.
“We are moving onto Process?” John asked.
“Unless we have unfinished business in Purpose, we will move into Process,” I said.
“Nothing from my side,” Cheryl responded, looking at the group. With that, everyone began to focus on the next column of the mosaic.
“The first piece in Process is to Assemble, Align and Assess your processes. This first piece is also typically the most difficult, and could trigger some very passionate debate,” I said, warming the group up to what might happen.
“Can’t be any more heated than our discussion around who is a key customer,” John pointed out.
“You might be surprised,” I said, getting ready.
I put forth the first questions for the group to consider:
- What are our critical processes?
- What are the processes critical to the delivery of our services by our people?
- What are the processes critical to ensure our customers’ needs are met?
Well, the group did not disappoint. It didn’t end up getting physical, but for a few moments I wasn’t sure.
“Are you joking? Communication? Communication is not a process,” Tyler ranted at Cheryl.
“No, it most certainly is not, but my point, again, is that it should be,” Cheryl retorted.
Similar exchanges occurred as the team continued to define their critical processes, expanding their list to fourteen. The team agreed that after each process was defined, they would evaluate it by asking themselves if the absence of the process caused them heartache, or if their focus on it gave them a competitive advantage. Bit by bit, the list was fine tuned and reached a final number of fifteen. The group declared fifteen processes as critical, as key to their servicing their customers through their people.
“Well, you weren’t exaggerating, Dean, when you said this would be a passionate debate,” John exclaimed. “This makes last week’s discussions seem mild by comparison.”
“How are we doing on time?” Tyler asked.
“We are fine, and we will take all the time we need, including time for a well-needed break,” Rick said, grabbing his coffee cup.
After the break, the group sat back at the table, re-energised and ready to tackle the next piece of the picture. One by one, the group went through the fifteen critical processes and assessed them as being totally ad hoc on the lowest end of the scale to being best-in-class on the high end of the scale. The group was no less passionate in their ratings as they were in defining which processes were critical.
“Tyler, you can’t tell me in one breath that communication is not a critical process, and in the next tell me we are best-in-class,” Cheryl asserted to Tyler.
“Okay, point taken, Cheryl. Take a pill and chill out,” Tyler shot back.
“Both of you take a deep breath. We are uncovering some very sensitive issues that have been at the root of many issues for all of us,” Rick said.
“John, you are being awfully quiet,” Cheryl stated.
“Like both of you, I’m a little embarrassed at the condition of several processes where I feel I have ownership and have let the team down.”
“John, we are all a tad embarrassed by this, but at least we are pointing it out to each other. It is not our customers pointing it out to us,” Rick said.
“Rick, on that note let’s move on. We still do not have the whole picture,” I said, corralling the group back to the mission at hand.
With the critical processes assembled and assessed, the discussion moved into how well the processes were aligned with the company’s and customer’s day-to-day needs.
“If each process is critical, it should provide you with information that is critical,” I said.
“Dean, can you explain that again?” Tyler asked.
“Sure. You named payroll as a critical process. That makes perfect sense as you are in the service industry, and you need to pay your people, right? But outside of being able to pay your people, what else do you do with that information?” I asked.
“We don’t do anything with payroll information,” Cheryl stated, clearly confused.
“I’m having both an ‘aha’ moment as well as a ‘duh’ moment. We’ve missed opportunities to provide our site management teams with data on how they are using their most valuable and costly resource: labour,” John said, as he took down some notes.
“How?” Tyler asked, putting down his pen.
“Imagine a dashboard where we can review all hours consumed at all of our sites – first shift, second, third, weekend hours, overtime hours – all laid out and presented as information for our teams to analyse and assess. That would align the payroll process to meet our needs,” John replied, still taking notes.
“In that case, each critical process should be able to provide us with information to become more competitive?” Rick asked.
“John, that information would save site management teams from building weekly man-hour spreadsheets,” Tyler explained.
“You all just hit the nail on the head, and made a critical observation,” I said.
With that, the group went on to discuss how each of the fifteen processes should provide information supporting the alignment of their people with their purpose. Frequencies to review the information were discussed, along with an audit of each process so processes did not fail backwards, but rather failed forward. It was agreed that activities within each process would be scheduled, and participants within each process would be held accountable for the role they played in both the delivery and the inspection of each critical process.
“Excellent work,” I complimented, looking over the group.
“I thought last week was an eye-opener, but these last four hours have really been sobering,” Tyler shared.
“More brutal reality for us to digest,” Rick stated, sounding very upbeat.
“While that reality is with us, let’s form observations from our work this morning on process,” I said, sharpening the pencil once more.
“I think this part is going to be the easiest yet,” John said, paging through his notes.
“I agree, John. What dawned on me this morning, and what I see in the mosaic, is that we did not know what processes were critical to our success. We’ve not been focussed on process improvement,” Tyler said.
“Agreed,” added Cheryl, thumbing through her notes.
Over the next few minutes, the group collectively outlined their observations:
- They were not aware of their critical processes.
- Many of their critical processes were in bad shape.
- None of their critical processes provided information, although they could.
- They believed their processes were better than what they actually were.
“Not an overly flattering list of observations, but again, we are the ones pointing this out to each other, versus our customers pointing this gap out to us,” Rick said.
“On that note, I think this is a perfect time to break. If I heard Marie correctly, lunch is available in the cafeteria, so let’s break for an hour and reconvene. This afternoon we will tackle the third column on the mosaic: People.”
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