Cut the Crap and just do it

A Message from our Chairman

  • 17 January 2017
  • Number of views: 7127
After working with industrial and supply chain change projects for over 22 years, there is one constant that still irritates the life out of me. This is the acronym typical consultant methodology solution to how you should change people. The glamour methods that don't actually hit the spot, the costly programmes that leave people totally disillusioned and sceptical of why they are changing in the first place. I come from a military background and if any of these methodologies had been mentioned on the ships the men would have thrown them overboard, well I certainly would have. I know and understand the military has its flaws and it’s not a business but when it comes to a crisis or working together and engaging for the common cause, there is nothing to match this. I have been around hundreds of companies in my time as a consultant and always questioned why nothing ever seems to get done right or even at all. Why can’t businesses absorb these change methodologies and why is it not like the military where we used to just do it. Well the answer comes down not to methodologies but the way the military is structured and lead and we can learn an awful lot from the basic embedded techniques that come from such an environment. We can try to understand why a lot of businesses fail to implement anything that involves change. My theory relates to some very simple basics.

Some of the big words are leadership, empowerment, ability to problem solve, teamwork, communication and most of all a cause. Ours at the time was to ensure as a team we worked and maintained a ship as close to fight readiness in order to deal with any crisis. The ship its survival and its ability to be a world class fighting unit was always our goal. Individual goals, albeit important never came above that of the ship. When I look at methodologies such as 5S, TPM, six sigma and all the other tools and methodologies I always challenge whether the people understand the true purpose of why and what they have to do and why these methods are there to help. I think the methodology becomes the driver instead of the change needed becoming the driver.

Constantly when I ask people what are the company goals, they look at me blankly. So if people do not understand what their ship is there to do and what their role is, how can you then ask them to change to something that has no foundation or core to relate to.

We always knew what we were there for, and always understood what to do. We were heavily trained, we were always able to deal with changes to the plan and we always were urgent in our approach. Little time was wasted. People were empowered, leadership encouraged learning and empowerment, and leadership were always prepared to lead from the front. There was no time for arrogance and problems were resolved commonly to ensure one result, continuity of the ship. Massive difference from the silos of people I see in a lot of businesses and the lack of togetherness to support the common cause.

We always planned but execution was king and always we improved through drilling, constant development and most of all a desire. All of these things are all the soft skills as people call them that need putting into place but seldom do.

People would argue it starts from the top and managers and directors don’t stay long enough. Well in the military these movements of leaders was a constant thing, what kept the structure was the structure. Even leadership was part of the ship and the structure always prepared for continuity of command. So why in businesses is there very little succession planning, why is this rarely discussed. It is not just the top executive, it is the whole management team. Each manager or supervisor must have a number 2.

All these basic techniques can be structured and to be fair should be structured. If you want change to occur naturally and workforces to change without resistance, then put in place the basics. Our most successful change programmes have dealt with these basics as the priority and not just the soft skills that people label them as. These so called soft skills are the very foundation of your business.

I suppose the one thing that moved me into a successful business life is the ability to just do it. Make the decisions, live by the decisions and most of all act. If you have a work force that has the key attributes of action and pragmatism built into their attitude then you can problem solve your way through any crisis that you are faced with. People and attitudes are the first things you should look at before you make any changes. Then ask the question, will what I am trying to achieve change the attitude or will it just become another glamour change methodology that costs you loads of money and costs you in time, money and worst of all reputation.

The key word I will finish on is basics, keep everything simple, keep it basic and keep it reachable and sustainable. So no more 5S methodology – how about Housekeeping improvement, productivity improvement, Health and safety improvement. Instead of SMED, call it changeover reduction method. Lean six sigma – how about waste elimination and process improvement. Call it by what it is and focus on basics and you will find people won’t call them anything in the long term, they will call them their job and the skills they need to do the job. But remember no one will change anything if you don’t but a cause in place, a purpose, a structure and most of all the right attitude

So if you fancy the idea of someone looking at your business from a practical, pragmatic point of view, I promise you we will cut the crap and focus on the basics that improve your business and supply chain. So from building factories and distribution centres to helping you optimise your supply networks end to end. Training is a huge foundation to our success and we would love to share our knowledge along the way.

WBS have a very pragmatic set of individuals with a large range of skills. All drilled to helping you improve your business. Our cause is to help you improve
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