Focus and sequencing in any major change effort, but particularly those involving customer-facing organizations, make the difference between achieving the full intended business impact and having only marginal success.
People and Process First . . .
The focus of our work on the people aspects of a client engagement is in three areas:
- Ensuring clarity of roles, cross-functional teaming, accountability and decision-making
- Identifying the skills, talents, styles and motivators that are necessary for success in a given role
- Assessing a client’s people to find matches between roles and available resources and establish development plans to maximize individual and team success
Our business process work with clients focuses on development of process as frameworks within which work is done, not step-by-step cookbooks which dictate how work is done.
We use process as the vehicle by which roles, cross-functional teaming, accountability and requirements for technology are defined. The process starting points we prepare for clients are based on the findings of the assessment phase and the priorities established in the articulation phase.
We use our experience to sketch solutions to specific issues and priorities, and then design highly participative, cross-functional workshops to:
- Flesh out the key process activities
- Assign the roles and accountabilities for all participants
- Identify the measures
- Describe the key system functionality to support the activity
. . . then Technology
Our technology work focuses on:
- Identifying existing systems that support the current business process
- Assessing how well they support the current process
- Mapping the requirements of the new process to current systems
- Defining new functionality required to support the new process
This work is often also done in cross-functional workshops. Because the initial focus of all of the work is on people and process, and IT and operations people are involved in that work, these subsequent workshops are not your traditional JADS. They are highly focused, results oriented sessions. Our clients see two significant advantages of this approach to technology:
- The business people who must implement the new roles and business process take ownership of both the business requirements for technology and its development. This adds dramatically to adoption rates
- IT and Operations people gain real partners in their critical work
Leverage and Buy-in: The keys to getting ready for large-scale change
We had worked with our client, a Fortune 50 global concern, on the development of a comprehensive solution to a series of particularly difficult marketing and sales issues. Because the solution represented significant change, part of that assignment was to help the client develop and field a pilot of the solution. Pilots are often a good way to do proofs of concept or to test whole new solutions to problems and large-scale change efforts. They are, however, only marginally helpful as a way to determine how best to implement. This is the case because, by definition, they do not involve a sufficient number and breadth of people to enable the creation of buy-in and change evangelism.
Our client was faced with an implementation challenge that included two large countries, each of which believed they had truly unique issues that could not possibly have been addressed in the countries in which a pilot had been run. Our experience with other clients led us to know that the priority issues identified in one country would be close to identical to those identified in the other country and to those identified in the pilot countries. We developed a facilitated approach that allowed that commonality to be exposed by participants vs. being stated as fact that would be challenged. Another key requirement was to represent the pilot results in a way which would enable others to connect their own experience to the solutions.
We defined a 3 step approach to engaging with and seeking input from cross-functional teams in both large countries. This approach was designed to provide immediate, demonstrable and relevant results to the participants.
Step one was collection of a base set of information about what data and systems to support the new process and roles already existed and how those systems and data were currently being used. Step two was development and execution of a workshop at which the pilot results were presented as the baseline future-state marketing and sales business process and participants had an opportunity to enhance and make it their own by:
- Identifying additional activities not identified in the baseline and best practices participants thought existed in their own countries
- Defining roles & responsibilities different functions currently have in getting the work done, and the points at which cross-functional teaming took place
Step three was designed to make it possible for workshop participants to discover the similarities and differences in the information produced by participants in the other countries, and to get agreement on the priority gaps to be filled.
These three steps were highly interactive, heavily directed and facilitated and included extensive cross-functional participation by country management, country sales and marketing management, sales representatives, marketing managers, call center managers, operations and IT.
In order to maximize buy-in to the ultimate solution it was critical to have a large number of people representing the multiple functions involved in this work. It was also essential that the end-to-end process be reviewed and that an easy way to provide input be used. Finally, the time any one individual had available was extremely limited. In fact, since everyone had to participate in the final ½ day, we had to limit most participation of any one individual to a maximum of 2-3 hours.
The workshops were kicked off by the Director of Marketing of the country, prompted, in an interview-like format, by the facilitator, and focused on:
- Existing connections between functions
- Strengths and weaknesses of the current process
- Priorities for improvement
By beginning the workshop in this way, we were able to demonstrate senior management engagement with and endorsement of the process, as well as to create a context and focus for the work that would ensue later in the workshop.
The rest of the day was divided into 5 one hour sessions covering specific topics that were consistent with the priorities.
In order to provide the immediate, demonstrable and relevant results to participants previously mentioned, we built in a full day of work by our consultants together with a core team of client personnel. The day, which separated the two parts of the workshop, was used to:
- Synthesize the input provided during the specific business process and best practices work
- Identify and characterize gaps both within current process and roles in-country and between those processes and roles and the future state toward which we were working
The final ½ day workshop included all participants and focused on the gaps that had been identified. The characterizations of the gaps we had developed were fine-tuned and participants were asked to rank prioritize all of the gaps based on the immediacy of impact on the business.
Participant input was summarized and immediately reported back. This served to demonstrate the clear similarities among the countries. In fact eight of the top 10 priorities were the same across the region.
This engagement resulted in:
- An extraordinarily high level of buy-in to and ownership of the process by cross-functional teams in the two large countries. Those who participated became “evangelists” for the process and roles and were added to the evangelists created during the pilot work.
- An end-to-end process which reflected not only external, but also internal best practices, and addressed the highest priority issues identified by people in-country.
- A bottom-up developed result, vs. a top-down mandate. This also contributed to the likelihood of ultimate adoption.