· The Gap – Spotting the elements of your business that are missing and describing what that gap is.
· The Flip – Taking the frustrations from the working day and creatively inverting them to define a better place to operate from.
· The Copy – Using the experience and ideas of other organisations to boost your own vision of excellence.
· The Breakdown – Articulating what good looks like through a small steps approach.
· What doesn’t work in your business? What loose ends do you have? What recurring problems do you face? ….. about process
· What results are you missing? What performance levels haven’t you achieved that you really need to? What objectives haven’t been completed? ….. about results
· Look at the departments that are present in your business. What is their purpose? Can you define it?
For each of those departments allocate a score out of ten. Ten would represent that the department is living and breathing their purpose. Zero would represent that they are as far away as possible as you can get from being ‘on purpose’. Any number less than ten is a gap.
Pull the three lists you have from previous activities together (missing items, results unobtained and departments not living ‘on purpose’) into one document. This next step is going to help you determine a weighting for each of those gap items (and you can use this approach with the other visioning methods too). For each item I would like you to score it against these three factors, to create a score / weighting:
Benefit If the benefit of closing out the gap is really significant for your business, give it a high score out of ten. If, on the other hand, the closing of this gap will make little impact for the business, give it a low score out of ten.
Cost Like the previous factor score this one out of ten also. A low cost / relatively free cost for closing out the gap will give you a high score out of ten, whilst an expensive / resource draining cost will give you a low score out of ten.
Speed A rapid closing out of the gap (such as today / tomorrow) will yield a high score in this area and a long and drawn out affair (several months and the need to go through various committees) will give this factor a low score out of ten.
To calculate your total score (the BCS score as I call it), multiply the scores you have given each gap for each factor together. This should give you a score between 1 and 1000. Once you have the scores calculated for each gap you should then be able to rank them, and this should be your priority sequence as you head into the implementation stage.
The simplest thing you can do with your list of grumbles is to invert them. Flip them upside down and try to turn a negative into a positive. Taking the idea of inverting problems a little further, when you tip an issue upside down what else can you do with it? This is an opportunity – for you to take an issue you have, trying to determine the opposite and then embellishing it into something really interesting and useful. Inversion is a great tool but inverting and upgrading of issues can really deliver some interesting opportunities when it comes to using problems to drive the creation of a vision for your business. The inversion method is a great place to start when you are trying to create your view of the future because the pain of today is real and tangible to your team.
What the other business or industry does is less important than the principle behind the activity. In some cases the application will be identical and you can transfer it straight into your business. In other cases you might need to spot the underlying principle and then translate the idea into your business. Every methodology that you can read about, or can witness for yourself, has principles sitting behind them. Spot these and you can apply the essence of the idea quickly and easily to your business. Now that you have some ‘new’ principles to apply to your business the next challenge is to bend and flex them so that they can become meaningful for your business.
To get your vision development process moving with this method I am going to invite you to chop it up into a number of smaller pieces. The size of the pieces is up to you and will depend on how your business is structured.
5W1H stands for: What Where When Who Why How. These headings in their own right can help you to become more explicit with each segment, prompting you to describe what good looks like for each of these words. For each segment you have identified for your business answer the questions of who, what, where, when, how and why and see what you can create. Answering these questions can help to improve ownership of specific activities (who), improve the way an activity is carried out (how), reinforce the rationale and purpose of an activity (why), help to define business routines (when), confirm any location specific issues (where) and the specificity of the action itself (what). Pull all of the 5W1H articulations that you have created and voila, you have another approach to creating a vision for your business. Ensure that you looked at each area of your business and defined what good looks like for each area.
Picking Your Vision Strategy
The tools that I have shared in the past few pages can be applied in different ways, to different levels within your business, for different purposes. Again, you can layer these approaches to suit the needs of your business and ensure that ‘what good looks like’ cascades its way effectively through your organization. The way that you apply your operational visions is, of course, up to you. A combination of all three levels (business, departmental and individual) serves most of the clients I work with and could be a good mix for you too. A broad picture being painted for the business, with a detailed vision for the individual areas that are under-performing and supportive explanations of what good looks like for members of your teams that are struggling with their current roles is a powerful combination.
Business level - high level view of what performance should look like.
Departmental level - how the functions should work properly, and with each other.
Individual level - what a good day looks like and what standards need to be achieved for a specific team member.
Putting these ideas into action and designing a business that constantly moves toward its vision. Where are you right now? Is your business in a good place? Are you wanting to make some minor changes, or are you looking for a complete overhaul? Do you have target areas to address quickly? Do you have longer term objectives that need some focus and attention to move them along, right now? Knowing where you are right now is essential so that your plan to reach your vision is effective. The other main reason that I want you to be clear about where you are right now is so that you can reflect on the journey that you have travelled. Are there any anecdotes that you have about your current level of performance? Are there any stories that summarize the way things are today? If you need to reinvigorate your improvement activities at any point in time, look for the quick wins.
Using milestones is a great communication tool with your colleagues, your team and your superiors too. Thinking of your change program as both a one trip linear plan and also a virtuous circle can provide different ways of thinking about your plans and give you a different outcome than just thinking in one way alone. A few people will need most of the results that you generate, so make sure that you keep them happy. Know who needs what from your change project and factor this in to your plans. Be realistic about how the people in your business will react to the change.
Getting a team together. Choosing who you team up with is vitally important. There might also need to be other people that need to join your team, in different roles to help the project along. Creating an action plan.
An alternative way to plan is to start at the end (with the objective having been achieved) and imagine your way back to your present situation. The linking question is ‘because I’d…’ and you use this to link your objective back to its penultimate action and then keep repeating until you end up at today. make sure that you are aware of the Kaizen principle (small steps helping to build confidence and momentum) and that you consider breaking up the first few steps of your action plan to help take advantage of this approach. Introduce these elements into the action plan template by adding in the following items to the list I mentioned under the 5W1H sub-section of this chapter: Outcome (Check). Change in approach? (Act).
The simplest approach is to gain agreement with a key stakeholder of your project before you start as to what they want to see at the end of the project. Without a formal signoff you run the risk of not completing your project, but just stopping without any benefit. Making a project plan visible can make a big difference to the progress made on it.
Timings, resources and sequences
From a timings perspective; do the deadlines look appropriate to the needs of the business, the workloads of the people working on the activities and the overall success of the project? From a resources perspective; do you have the right tasks on the right people at the right time, or is it overloaded in some areas? From a sequence perspective; are the activities linked in a logical manner that allows for the most effective and efficient route to the finish line? Support and sponsorship. The New Habits: good habits are essential to making change happen
Killer Questions a list of questions that were to be either answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’. No narrative, no stories, no supporting information. The questions were focused on key parts of their business process and were used to great effect to focus people on the right activities (which of course means that the questions need to be balanced out for the operations of your business). Killer questions are a great way to convert the design of your new process activities into day to day action.
Metrics The right measures can direct your team into living and breathing the new vision as part of their normal working day. Many businesses will only consider ‘ouput’ metrics, telling you a story of what happened in the process. ‘Input’ metrics can be really useful to help you gauge what is happening with the start of the process, and whether it is being triggered correctly. The other type of metric, process, is similar to the input metrics with one small difference. Depending on where you are in the process itself will determine how much control you have over the outcome of your process. There will be some fundamental measures that you will want to always have in place (e.g. safety, profit, on time delivery, quality, costs etc…), but there will also be some temporary measures that you would like to have in place. Temporary measures are exactly that, something that you need to focus on until the actions that produce the result become a habit. Measures are a means to an end; if you don’t like what they are telling you, change what you are doing. I refer to analogue metrics being things that can be measured on a scale (such as supplier on time delivery) and digital metrics refer to activities that are either present or not (such as holding a meeting, or not). many organizations develop them in a very one-dimensional way, one suite of measures that the top management use. This is a good place to start but having different measures at different levels in the business can help your teams to behave and operate in the way that your vision requires.
There is no issue with using the word target with your team, for many it will work well. The reason I like the term reasonable expectations is that it instantly gives the feeling that it has been thought through and isn’t some ridiculous figure plucked out of thin air (unlike when a Finance Director once asked for raw material stock targets to be less than minimum working capital…). Metrics are a great way to help drive the right behaviours and develop the right kinds of habits.
Reporting lines Formal reporting can take the format of regular written reports, presentations at agreed intervals, weekly email updates, one to one meetings (with a fixed agenda), agenda items at routine management meetings, visual management systems and more. Informal reporting usually takes care of itself, hence the name. the formal reporting has got to yield a greater return than the effort / time it takes to produce and review the reporting.
Routines can help translate parts of your vision into day to day activity, bridging the gap of how you get from A to B. Cause and effect thinking can be a useful approach to take when thinking about making a shift in your performance; routines are great when they are focused on activities that generate specific outcomes (in this case, your vision).
Formal Reviews Having a time out from the day-to-day busyness to look at all of these (or whatever combination you opted for) can really help you to spot opportunities for improvement. A regular time slot with a standard agenda is the key to making this approach work. The meetings don’t have to be long, just long enough to ensure that you cover the main points, review any actions from previous meetings and capture any new actions that you need to see happen.
Execution Without execution nothing happens. Tiny steps can be used to great effect if the project seems too much to handle for some of your team. Dedicating time to individuals, or small teams, to work on the business change activities can just be a matter of discipline and doesn’t have to just come in large chunks. Leading on from the last point, preparation is often undervalued and underestimated in terms of how it can increase the effectiveness of delivering a change program. Keeping the tempo of the execution is the final point
Project reviews How do we get our tasks back on track? If your tasks aren’t behind schedule then ignore the question, close the meeting and get on with your day. Stopping on a regular basis to take stock and to evaluate your current efforts versus results is important to make sure that you are doing the right things in order to effect the right change.
Learning variation on the PDCA model and is called CARL, which stands for: Challenge Actions Reflection Learning. The way that you use this model is to periodically stop and consider your personal effectiveness at effecting the changes that your plan is requiring.
General project monitoring General progress should be tracked by a regular team meeting. This isn’t the review meeting that I mentioned earlier in this chapter, this is the nuts and bolts review of looking at the deadlines and asking the person assigned to that task for an update on the deliverables.
Looking for the signs As you progress through your project you will want to keep an eye out for signs that you are moving towards your vision. Most people find that these types of projects are difficult when you consider them as a whole, but when you treat them as a series of small projects all linked together they can become more manageable.
Achieving and developing ‘what does good look like’ Don’t forget to celebrate with your team; the performance your business will now be achieving and the style in which is does it should be (considerably) different to how it was before you started. This leads to a very logical question – what does good look like now?
Tangible results For the majority of your changes the improvements you make should lead to an improvement of the money your business has to play with. making the place a more pleasant place to work will potentially improve a financial aspect of your business through better productivity or performance.