Disaster Recovery Plan – or the only “Change Plan”?

It came out of a discussion I had earlier today with a friend who was describing his PhD content on disaster planning stemming from his time as an Assistant Chief Fire Officer. We talked about the Firefighters strikes and the necessity to provide cover by emergency planning.

That planning in one authority had reduced the number of tenders on the streets down to a minimum operating level, extending cover when needed with the use of neighboring services, standby retained firefighters and a host of other clever means.

Out of this carefully thought though plan, the Chief Fire Officers had collated data. In their analysis the question arose – why isn’t this the only standard operating model?

Clearly there was little or no impact on front line services, the public were being served in a way that provided no discernible difference, yet the operating model was reduced in size and operated more flexibly, more efficiently and could respond to changes as, if not more, effectively than before.

Agile planning of a disaster recovery approach had provided them with a sustainable model of service that saved money by reducing internal costs and resources yet provided the same level of public safety and response.

So if this provided the Fire Service with this opportunity to re-examine their model of operations, could this be true of businesses generally?

Can a business use this approach to improve profits radically, restyle their business to become more Customer responsive and innovate to grow?

By bringing the Business contingency planning process to life, not as lip service or a bolt on plan, but by resourcing from Board level, it to discover how your business can operate in a disaster, there are lessons to be learned.

Denial of access to your offices mean your staff can’t get to the building, their computers, the company resources, stock, manufacturing facility. Delivery of your product or service is impacted immediately, but how do you cope?

If your computer systems fail, do you have backup not just of the data, but of the systems, the phone lines, the communications processes, the applications? Can your people work from “the cloud” and if so, how do you change the way you manage them in this event? This may give way to “agile working” concepts.

Distributing stock to be held in multiple locations – maybe even as consignment stock in Customers premises would alleviate the need for central distribution and maybe even save transportation and storage costs.

Manufacturing disasters could be handled by multiple factory locations, licensing others to manufacture on your behalf – partnership opportunity stems from this line of inquiry and a revised “cost to make” analysis results from it.

In establishing the “disaster plan”, many opportunities arise to think differently, more flexibly, establish new ways, methods, locations of working. From this I believe a new business model is possible, one that challenges the status quo of today’s operations.

 Making incremental changes within any business of size, relies upon the individuals agreement to shift the model, the power base, their comfort zones, and this is a hard thing to achieve.

The focus of a theoretical disaster however, brings people together to solve a very different problem – that of how to survive and thrive no matter what.

Wait a minute -isn’t that the purpose of the base business plan?






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Need a new way to manage your Organisation?

Need a new way to manage your Organisation?

Benjamin Franklin (1706-90 in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789, famously said; “‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

In today’s world people have added the words to reflect our current state, to;

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes and change.”

In our world of constant and accelerating change, many would agree. The technological advances, the ballooning of the world’s populous and the furthering of our scientific know-how, puts many of us in a spin, wondering what quantum leaps mankind will take next year, or closer to home, just what will change in our business and consumer markets.

So why, I wonder do we spend so little time proactively seeking ways to manage change in our Organisations?

We spend time writing wills, setting up trusts, planning funerals, last wishes, pensions and life insurance – quite a lot of detailed planning goes into these arrangements.

We also spend time as businesses and Organisations, ensuring compliance with our tax laws, in some cases a huge amount of time accounting for our income or profit both on an organisational level and also a personal one to reduce our overall tax bill each year.

But what about CHANGE? What do we do to proactively manage the constant need to change?

Most organisations are using and implementing the Fayol model of structure in its simplistic form of; Managing Director, with functional Directors in the areas of Production/Operations, Finance and Sales. But did you know Fayol’s real scope of work developed 14 principles of management in order to help managers manage their affairs more effectively.

Organizations in technologically advanced countries interpret these principles quite differently from the way they were interpreted during Fayol’s time as well. These differences in interpretation are in part a result of the cultural challenges managers face when implementing this framework.

The fourteen principles are: (1) Division of work, (2) Delegation of Authority, (3) Discipline, (4) Chain of commands, (5) Congenial workplace, (6) Interrelation between individual interests and common organizational goals, (7) Compensation package, (8) Centralization, (9) Scalar chains, (10) Order, (11) Equity, (12) Job Guarantee, (13) Initiatives, (14) Team-Spirit or Esprit de corps.

To develop a system of Management that responds, plans and executes programmes to manage constant change however, even Fayol may have been challenged.

His Principle number 6 however would suggest that he was already onto something that would eventually provide the answer.

It is of course the relationship between individual’s interests and the Organisational Goals that holds the key.

Change is the big issue for many if not most human beings. We fear the unknown, regret that the glorified past has gone and with technology moving so fast we sometimes just don’t hold all of the knowledge necessary to make a decision.

Couple that with the oppressive regimes of Audit and the extensive PROCESS led management that we have imposed upon ourselves and we now have senior Managers who are managing to constantly lower risk, reduce variation, suppress change, instead of innovating for the new tomorrow.

Is it any wonder then why we don’t consider skills to manage constant change a priority when all of our social and business systems are driven to reduce change, drive out variations and maintain a predictable path ahead?

We train hard in the areas of Leadership, but ignore that the basis of a Leader is to move outside of the rules in order to find a way to get things done. We train in finance, in process, in IT and basic human management, using “Managing by Objectives” (Peter Huber) type cultures.

Modern Management techniques are still firmly anchored in Positivist thinking, where evidence is critical, as opposed to Interpretivists.

Positivists believe that the social world (as the natural world) is made up of facts which can be studied like the natural world. It is the search for laws of social behavior using the logic and methods of the natural sciences. Positivists argue that by applying scientific principles of research to the study of society, Sociologists will be able to put forward proposals for social change which will lead to a better society.

Interpretivists believe that society cannot be treated as a science. They stress the ability of individuals to exercise control and choices over their actions and because everyone is different with different views and attitudes it is not possible to use scientific methodology to study society. Scientific approaches are not suitable for the study of society

And so our Management training and theories focus on “hard thinking”, on process and rules, for without that we are surely lost?

In moving forwards, most enlightened Leaders and some Managers now take on board the Interpretivists views that people are not automatons, and that their individual thoughts, beliefs, ideas and attitudes will become their behavior and their performance in the workplace.

Most Managers I speak to are abhorred by the thought that need to understand a little about people, their fears and motivators, ambitions and blockages whilst they are at work.

Their abhor-ration comes through lack of knowledge, of training and of the Leadership instruction to modify their techniques in this fast paced world.

Consequently, we are still trying on the whole, to manage a workforce in the most traditional ways of measurement and rules, missing the opportunity to more fully engage with our people to gain competitive advantage by the early and willing adoption and acceptance of CHANGE.

Training your Managers to be competent at managing Change need not be a course in psychology. There must be just sufficient attention paid to the intellectual welfare of the workforce however, and then to translate that into the “hard” business planning processes that drive most of our businesses.

Proactively training your senior team in principles of driving change will enhance the competitiveness and competency of your Organisation in the next decade.

The real question is how long you will wait to take the step forwards, or will you like many, cling to the post of yesterday and eventually succumb to market pressures and your competition.

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Where Did “Management Jargon” Come From?

Where Did "Management Jargon" Come From?

Where Did “Management Jargon” Come From?

Management jargon began to explode about the same time as the beginning of the Business School”. It is based largely on seven key words:

1. Solve
2. Projects
3. Problems
4. Management
5. Results
6. Objectives
7. Plan

The words solve and projects are the oldest dating back to the 15th Century. Manager (1588) and management (1598) have been with us for some time. Manage has been defined as “the use or contrivance for effecting some purpose; the conduct of affairs; administration; direction; control; to handle work; to carry on successfully or otherwise; to control the course of affairs by one’s own action. It would follow that “the Manager” is defined as, “one skilled in managing a business or institution”.

Problems have been around longer. Problem (1529) has been defined as “a thing thrown or put forward; a difficult question proposed for solution; a matter of inquiry; a proposition in which something is required to be done. An inquiry which starting from some given conditions investigates some fact, result or law; and in chess it means an arrangement of pieces upon the chessboard, in which the player is challenged to discover the method of accomplishing a specified result”.

Before problems there were projects (1477) defined as “a plan, a draft, a scheme, a mental conception or idea, a tabulated statement; a design or patter; something projected for execution; a proposal; something to be done, or some action to be carried out”. And before projects: solve (1440). Solve means “to clear up, explain, resolve, and answer; to find the answer or solution to a problem”.

Later came the word result (1651) meaning to effect, issue, or outcome of some action, process, and design. And shortly on objective (1678) as pertaining to the object or end as the cause of action = final cause. We later find the word managing (1715) capturing some of the elements noted above, being defined as “addicted to scheming or to assuming the direction of affairs; having executive control”.

Then plan (1780), meaning a table or programme indicating the relations of some set of objects, or the times, places, of some intended proceedings.

Some 170 years later on, Henri Fayol knitted together elements these words, suggesting that the managers’ role was to plan; to organise; to coordinate; to control; and to lead.

His most astonishing proposition was that as one rose in the organisational hierarchy the planning content of the job increased, with the senior executive being primarily involved with planning. This was later translated and published as “Peter’s Principles”.

Despite the widespread misunderstanding, or in many cases, the lack of understanding of Fayol’s concept, the games played by management pundits of combining and recombining these words into various forms of management systems and approaches, has been staggering.

It is my hope to re- introduce a planning method which will slow the proliferation of Jargon and to bring about a more straight-forward approach to the centuries old requirement to adapt, to change, or die.

The requirement to manage change has always been with us.

It is the shortening of the “Change Lead Time” which has caused today’s management grief.

Those who cannot or will not quickly respond to, and to cope with environmental changes, competitive shifts, technological developments, social attitudes, now find themselves in difficulty.

The Consultancy industry response, is to build a market around the words “Managing Change” and “Employee Engagement”, train a load of consultants, and proliferate the jargon and fear of failure to stir up some fee paying Clients.

With a small amount of mental agility however, it can be seen that “Managing Change” is Project Management, is; managing by Objectives, by exception, by results, by Planning and Budgeting, with the oldest of these expressions being project management.

Project management is seen as the single cell structure which builds into any form of forward looking management system, be it corporate planning, long range or strategic planning, business planning, management by objectives or simple budgeting.

So, let’s get back to the basics of Managing by projects, planning by numbers and being strategically focused, and dispense with the mumbo jumbo.

Business is after all, simply the art of identifying the market and Customer, and joining it up with the solution you offer. The rest is simply an act of planning.

How is your plan today?

Authored by Philip@tamplc.com

For further insights into strategic planning, visit us at www.tamplc.com or call us on 01246 456304

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Supercharge your Lean Six Sigma programmes

You’ve engaged with Lean and maybe Six Sigma in an attempt to find and expose process issues and then to plan to fix them, thereby improving the Organisation.

You may have had initial success, which has furthered your belief that this is the right path, and that the business plan will achieve its greater performance as a result.

But how many of the projects are truly successful, how many start out doing better things and then return to a lower return base, or simply return to the old ways completely?

How do you know that the changes are sticking, that the business plan is the driver and more importantly – that the savings are real and not simply extrapolations of soft data and people behaviour expectations?

This is where the problem lies in process driven improvements.

They invariably lack the joining up with the Organisations own STRATEGIC plan, preferring to focus instead upon incremental operational efficiencies.

The proposed process driven changes are often “done to you” as opposed to “created with you”, and this is where a concept called “change sabotage” starts.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a willful attempt by staff and teams to derail the company, it’s not a conspiracy against the organisation – it is simply the basic psychological reaction to change and control of change.

It is purely the human reaction to changing the state of things and the harboring to the old, and the luke warm reception of the new.

Team Action Management is a systematic and licensed programme to avoid this pitfall. It supports the psychological state of your workforce, embracing its innovation, fears, naiveties and issues, bringing this together through a business filter to support and become included in the changes and new ways required.

In short, it supercharges your process initiatives and allows successful change and improvement to occur.

Team Action Management links “change” to Strategy, allowing the Organisation to know that the improvement projects identified have a real, consequential and joined up positive effect on the business.

The programme carries a science and history of success in many Corporate Businesses and Organisations and is licensed to practitioners in the say way that you have trained your Lean and Six Sigma people.

Call us now for further information, or contact us here at enquiries@tamplc.com

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57% more effort from your teams, for no more cost – how can that be

A report from the global management consulting firm, the Hay Group earlier this year revealed that businesses are being stunted by ‘depressed’ employee engagement.

The study highlighted that a third of employees said they were performing optimally, claiming that barriers put in place by their company are preventing them from excelling at work.

Commitment levels have also fallen to a five-year low with two-fifths (44 per cent) of workers stating they intend to leave their employer within five years, with more than one in five employees (21 percent) intending to leave in less than two years.

That translates into 21% of your workforce are inclined to leave your Organisation given the chance. That’s a shocking number!

The extensive employee engagement study also found that the employees most committed to their organisations put forth 57 % more effort, and are 87 % less likely to leave their company than employees who consider themselves disengaged

It should be no surprise then that employee engagement, or lack thereof, is a critical factor in an organisation’s overall financial success.

Many companies use standard or bespoke surveys to try to measure and anticipate employee engagement, however they often struggle to derive meaningful results, and the outcome is “just another HR survey”.

Leading companies are now moving beyond just understanding the levels of their employees’ engagement, and are using change management techniques to understand the drivers behind it.

Companies that use an employee engagement survey, then go on the properly utilise change management engagement tools can reduce voluntary staff turnover exponentially and also improve individuals discretionary effort in the workplace which leads to greater productivity and ultimately profit.

Moving beyond the survey

Moving beyond the survey requires a safe environment for both Managers and staff alike, and the creation of cultural drivers such as FAIRNESS can also provide a massive support for the increase in staff discretionary effort.

The following factors are critical in moving HR led programmes such as Employee Engagement Surveys into the mainstream of Change, Planning and Development.

  1. Bring together the executive management team and make it their responsibility for employee engagement.
  2. Gain the outspoken sponsorship of the CEO and the Board. Nothing will happen without their sanction and support.
  3. Engage the staff in a data collection exercise around a Strategic statement released by the CEO. Make the feedback anonymous and therefore safe for the staff to “tell it how it is”. This negates the filtering that occurs from staff to the Boardroom.
  4. Use this data to conduct a “change session” led by the Managers themselves. They can form strategic change projects which account for all the data fed back. It’s a quick win.
  5. Publish the results – remember that fairness culture? Well this action promotes it.
  6. Then when everyone is aligned around the common identified themes, DO THE WORK!

Most change programmes fail to complete and render the exercise worse than useless. Once the work is done, measure the improvement in discretionary effort across your entire Organisation.

Employee engagement will play a critical role for organisations actively looking to gain competitive advantage in both short- and long-term.

Moving HR into mainstream Business Planning and Development, using employee engagement as the key driver, will provide a robust planning platform for future success.

For more information, please contact Philip Webb at philip@tamplc.com

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When process improvements fail to stick

“Lean – Six Sigma is 30% systems, 70% people.”

1. What percent of the improvements from your Lean-Six Sigma projects last beyond six weeks?
2. What percent of your Kaizen Events have to be “redone?”
3. Do your methodology metrics (number of Kaizen Events or Six Sigma Projects held this year) look good, but your result metrics (% on time delivery) stay the same or look worse?
4. What percent of Work processes are audited weekly at your location?

If your answers were 30%, Yes, and <50% then it is safe to say there is a real problem.
The extra work you expend in correcting these issues adds no value to the customer and is a waste of your time, effort and money.

The next question may be a little harder; Do you actually KNOW the answers to the above questions, or are you relying upon your project managers to report their versions to you?

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers estimates that “95% of Lean applications fail to sustain.”

“[when there is minimal employee involvement]…the recommended changes do not stick.” The Toyota Way

The scenario is a common one: after great effort and much time on a Kaizen Event or a Six Sigma project, a process change is designed that delivers better results.

Much celebration and congratulations follow. Six weeks later, it is as if nothing had ever happened. The production team has reverted to the previous process, and the improved results no longer exist. The gains do not sustain. But why?

The major sticking point lies at the very beginning of the work.

To make a change last, it must be acceptable to those that it affects.

If a change is “done to you”, as opposed to “with you” then it is likely to meet resistance and even sabotage by those that it is imposed upon.

Only when your people feel that they have had an opportunity to be involved, to contribute ideas and comments that you honestly acknowledge and use to shape the changes, will a culture of fairness exist that will provide a robust platform for the new ways.

This engagement is the missing piece in most methodologies and is almost always the cause that leads to a failure to sustain.

We have been working for many years now, using a defined psychology driven programme called Team Action Management. (TAM)

It is the cultural platform upon which you are able to deliver process and system led improvements using tools such as Lean, Kaizen, 6 Sigma and others.

Simply put, it provides the means to engage at a personal level, all of your staff and stakeholders in the programme of change that is required.

The clue is in the headline – 30% is Systems, 70% is People

By integrating Performance Management into the implementation of Lean and Six Sigma, improvement gains can be sustained. Team Action Management (TAM) is a proven solution for how to make a “people” process improvement onto established process improvement methodologies: Lean and Six Sigma.

It provides a way to systematically add feedback and reinforcement to accelerate and sustain the new process behaviours generated by Lean and Six Sigma projects.

For example, everyone acknowledges that machinery requires a schedule of preventive maintenance. Process behaviours also require a schedule of maintenance. The maintenance consists of feedback and reinforcement. Without it, process behaviours revert back to older, more familiar behaviour patterns (the way we used to do things) and the improved results evaporate. The gains do not sustain.

About TAM UK

Founded in 1995, and headquartered in Chesterfield UK, TAM UK works with a diverse spectrum of clients both private and public sector.

We help accelerate the business and performance of Organisations and Companies by using positive, practical approaches grounded in the science of behaviour and Fairness and engineered to ensure long-term sustainability.

TAM UK supports its clients in accelerating strategy execution while fostering employee engagement and positive accountability at all levels of their organisation.

For more information contact Philip@tamplc.com

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The Origins of the “Stakeholder” concept

The Origins of the “Stakeholder” Continue reading

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