Ways We Help Your Company
Together, we structure the work of your board and management teams. We help to build the team and maintain trust among management team members.
We organize workshops, training and meeting facilitation for strategic decision making and change implementation.
Building up the team of a Board Of Management
A company was stagnating for few years. Historically the company was made by acquiring progressively several activities quite distinct from each other. Several attempts were made of creating a common Board of Management, but not very successfully. If the group control and reporting had common processes, there were no common governance, identity and belonging.
Indeed, the history of the company had made strong leaders of business very distant from each other. Both geographically and culturally. They were sharing very little common support functions and were more an addition of independent businesses. In fact, each member of the board had a strong independent personality and yet very little to do with each other.
And as you cannot get a choir made of divas, the individuality of that company leaders was reflected in each layer of the company.
Here, as we worked with building the Board team, we help first with defining the common purpose of the company.
A story says that 3 identical stonecutters doing an identical work of cutting stones on the street pavement had a vey different apparent attitude and energy.
The first man was exhausted, depressed, back broken, and livid: He was cutting stones 10 hours a day, 6 days a week.
The second was in better shape, but still had this distant gaze: He was working at feeding his family.
The third one was shining and smiling: He was carving out a cathedral.
Well, this metaphor illustrates the way we help. We help defining the common higher purpose, setting the proper governance, and helping to communicate it properly. We help the members of the Board to insufflate that belonging to their organization: Individual stonecutters to become a solid team erecting a cathedral.
Board strategy: the risk of doing always more of the same things
When the success is not fully here, it may be tempting for a Board of Management to act fast and dive into implementing "corrective actions".
We know that it is very human and natural to do more of the same things. And, even if it is sometimes disguised under the label "new organisation" or "restructuration", often the lyrics change but the music remain the same.
Becoming aware of it is a game changer and we here propose to let go of the previous strategy before deploying a new one.
The issue with doing more of the same things is that it leads to more of the same results. In less successful situation, it is worthwhile to take the time to reflect as a management team on the initial positive intention of the previous decisions that resulted in a negative outcome.
Once the positive intention formulated and consciously recognized, the strategic work we propose is to keep that genuine intention and to build together true other ways to achieve it.
This communicated to an organization get's a great buy-in and give great results too.
Strategic decision making, business diversification: Our large management toolbox enables us to guide you safely when outside your comfort zone.
Either you seek for organic growth of for acquisition, we are at your disposal, we have a great experience of leading businesses and an in-depth knowledge of intercultural management that help to structure your growth strategy successfully.
The growth challenge of a small company
A good example is this small size company that is doing well.
The owner-founder is handling or supervising all operations, developing the business, and hiring the required personal to cope with the increasing workload and demand. Up to a certain level, when launching and developing, all goes fine. It has reached the cruising altitude of a profitable honorable business. From scratch, the owner (coach-player) of the enterprise has now seen his turnover rising 15% per year for the past 5 years and is having 15 employees on the pay roll: Success!
But the growth story is in danger at this point.
Indeed, going to the next step would require the introduction of a new structure. The owner of our illustration needs to agree on a delegation of trust, power and leadership to key managers to be hired. It would require the implementation of processes such as quality, procurement, Sales & Marketing, control, IT, HSE, training, reporting (...) The implementation of a management team, a recruitment procedure and an inhouse legal expertise...
Here the steps are too big to be taken alone and yet more of the same thing would lead to a breaking point: Overload, burnout and loss of control.
That's precisely where we help.
We here help implementing gradually a structure that will make the company able to grow further. From a small enterprise to a medium size structure. It will gear up and yet will keep the original agility, heart and soul of its founder.
Here a larger company acquires an agile start-up to diversify its business and grow a new branch. Our start-uppers have made their company
attractive. The results are showing good. All indicators are green.
The merger and acquisition department of the bigger corporation has done the due diligence, the investors are positive, the board give it a go. Champagne!
Very quickly after the acquisition we see key personnel of the acquired firm leaving, and this beyond the anticipated attrition rate. The expected sales and profit volumes are not at the level they were forecasted after a year.
Unfortunately, while doing its best to embrace the newly acquired firm, the larger corporation has instead choked it.
As we do one thing, we do everything. Controlling this new entity was a priority, the latter was restructured so it could be easily controlled. Strong process was quickly implemented and here went off the agility and innovation, primary reasons of the acquisition.
We do help for a proper integration by setting from top management level the notion of two separate clocks.
Indeed, after an acquisition, it is of the essence to show fast results. (This is the fast clock of the investors) but it's equivalently important to set at slower pace the clock of the integration. Adopting a child to a large family takes time for both the child and the family.
We follow the development in a way that the two clocks will synchronize and show eventually the same time.
You know the saying that "a company culture eats a change strategy for breakfast". This is to say that by nature, humans -and by extension human organizations - are reluctant to change.
Nevertheless, some changes are not optional. They are a business survival matter.
Take this honest horseshoer working at a good location close to the main national road in the early years of our last century.
Our artisan has the reputation to be the best blacksmith of the country. He has chosen a good location (environment) has the required skills and tools to forge, repair and manufacture quickly horseshoes (behaviour-capacity). He enjoys and values his work since he believes in his noble contribution to traffic's fluidity. He defines himself has a “mobility enabler”. (identity).
All is fine until our brave blacksmith faced a massive change in his work environment: The horse is replaced by the automobile.
Needless is to say that being best at something obsolete wont last.
However, he converted remarkably quickly his stall to a tyre centre and car maintenance workshop. He acquired the new skills and tools and could continue his higher mission to provide people with a fluid mobility.
Imagine if our man would instead be inspired strongly by the unconditional love of the animal. His equine passion would have made the mechanical horsepower revolution much more difficult to accept and would certainly create reluctance to change. Acquiring the skills and tools would not solve this swiftly. Trainings on skills and capacity can operate only if a true attention is first made in aligning and communicating purpose-vision-mission-strategy
Digitalization, distance working, and energy revolution are today as big changes as the automobile for a blacksmith. We help transforming! We help resilience!
For lasting results, we periodically review the well-being of your business with you. Stay on track with the company outlook and set up our Company Health Check™ management system in your organisation
Get what you want, not what you measure: establish relevant and consistent key performance indicators (KPIs). We help you stay on course by aligning your vision with your mission, corporate values and strategy.
Get really what you want, not only what you measure
Confucius said, “When a wise man points at the moon, the idiot examines the finger.”
Independently of your wisdom level, you cannot with bare eyes look at both at the same time. It is a question of focus and depth of field: Focus on the finger, and the moon become a blurry background light, focus on the moon and the finger disappear.
Our illustration here takes us to this company that focuses on getting its costs down to increase profitability.
The procurement department is evaluated by the discount it gets from material suppliers. A bonus is linked to the achievement.
On the other wing of the building, the Quality department is given the goal to reduce nonconformity costs of the manufactured products, since rework increases costs and deteriorate the profitability.
Fast you’ll see that if procurement is pushed, its successful performance will impact negatively the Quality KPI’s (Indeed: Too cheap material/component became of a lower quality. The saving here is double spent aftersales)
Vice versa, to keep nonconformity low, the quality department have reinforced quality control, procedures, and certifications. It ruled out the possibility for standard supplier to quote as the requirements became too stringent.
Too high-quality protocol led to less suppliers qualified and higher procurement price. The saving in quality was lost in the competitive disadvantage of a restricted number of suppliers.
Time to get what you want and not what you measure. Increase profitability requires to see both the finger and the moon. In photography, you can play with the aperture of your camera. If you set a small aperture, you will get an infinite depth of field. Both the moon and the finger become sharp.
In our example, an option perhaps would be to keep the KPI’s as they are for both our purchaser and quality department, as they give the focus on the goal to achieve. And why not rewarding they both with a bonus based on the KPI of the other?
Our purchaser would get a bonus only if the quality is improved, our quality department would get a bonus only if the procurement cost goes down. The overall profitability would be increased optimally.
Culturally a Finnish company favors strong processes
Geert Hofstede would place the Finnish model of organization in the Well Oil Machine section. This is to say that culturally, the preferred model of organization for a Finnish company is when the work and tasks are well defined in advance and when the everyday operations are an established routine. In other words: upfront efforts to build processes that will support the execution of the work.
It's a real solid strength! Now, the risk is here to do only and always what we are good at. Isn't a flaw a quality we use all the time?
Indeed, a process driven organization may have the tendency to answer any situation the same way: by adding a process to the new situation. It is a comfort zone.
The odds are here great to see the other sides of the business somewhat underinvested.
The voice of the customer, the voice of the company and the voice of the people might not be always heard, as they are not very loud.
When processes are in place, implementing more processes may deteriorate individual involvement, motivation and even competence. Indeed, if all is agreed upfront there might be litle desire and place to individual actions and influence.
A customers might also get lost into the organization processes and he might feel that his need are unattended simply because they are not (yet) processed.
We propose to listen to an organization by sounding the current level of balance between the different dimensions. (Process, Company, People and Customer)
We help and find together solutions in order to grow attention in the less invested areas.
Houston, we have a problem!
Do you remember? The Apollo XIII spacecraft was able to return to earth safely, despite serious trouble. This is because the engineers on the ground were able to identify and use all the equipment available on board. They created a pragmatic solution, far from the immediate danger and knew how to integrate it into the real context.
With this metaphor, we will help you use the resources available within your organisation. Take a step back from the urgency, and design a safe solution that you can deploy successfully.
Creative Solution Finding
Creativity may save a great deal of money
The legend says that NASA in the 1960s, during the height of the space race, had its scientists realized that pens could not function in zero gravity. They therefore spent years and millions of dollars developing a ballpoint pen that could put ink to paper without needing gravitational force to pull on the fluid.
The device, patented in 1965, The Space Pen (also known as the Zero Gravity Pen), marketed by Fisher Space Pen Company, is a pen that uses pressurized ink cartridges and is able to write in zero gravity, underwater, over wet and greasy paper, at any angle, and in a very wide range of temperatures.
An engineering beauty!
The Soviet astronauts used a pencil.
Sometimes being creative is also getting out of mainstream of idea and make use of simple available solutions.
We lead our workshop on a way ultra-creative cartoon movie maker are doing.
The secret stands in designing a creative workshop in 3 distinct phases:
Phase 1: All ideas are welcome. The most exotic, colourful, eccentric, unstructured input is permitted and encouraged. We set the workshop mind in a mode " if everything would be possible, how would it be?"
Here we frame strictly that criticism is not allowed. All is possible.
When enough ideas have emerged and are properly collected, we close the first phase and start the second.
Phase 2: Here, no new idea is permitted. We help to write, as if it would be a storyboard of motion picture, the potential story and scenarios made of ALL ideas collected in phase one. The task here is to link all these ideas to a single red thread. Here cartoonist would have at this point probably an unsellable 10-hour movie scenario-
Phase 3: Then the 3rd phase consists in bringing back our left brain (the rational brain) in the room and start criticizing (positively), incorporating the script into the reality of the context, market, customers, cost, time , investors, etc… and cut out the impossible, keep the feasible: Reducing a 10 hours story board to a 90 minutes movie scenario that can be commercialized.
We synthetize the outcome and gather the required actions. The group leaves the room with unsuspected remarkable options.