Watson Excellent Operations is concerned with improving operational business processes. We use Lean and Agile principles where focus on results and respect for the individual is the most important compass for us.
Our approach is characterized by the fact that we focus on results with the conviction that management and employees are central to changes. It will never work without them!
Already at the start of the assignment, the contracting, we emphasize that we work on the basis of mutual trust. We see the assignment as a joint journey where everyone has their share and that we will only achieve sustainable results in collaboration.
During the entire process, we pay explicit attention to the inclusion of employees and management. We know that developing the intrinsic motivation of employees and management is a must to really get the change going.
We aim for sustainable results and build an organization in which employees and management are able to take the following steps themselves. For us, a sustainable result means that there is a healthy balance between customer, company and employee value and legislation and regulations.
We use a structured approach that has taken shape in practice with our customers. In general terms, our approach has 4 focus areas and we are guided by our guiding principles.
1 A structured change approach:
We believe in change management. This means that we believe that change processes can largely be controlled and influenced. Inspired by Kotter's studies, we pay a lot of attention to what we call "mutual success". Setting goals, working together on improvements and clarifying what everyone's role is in combination with real attention both mentally and in time to work on changes have proved to be crucial in successful change processes.
2 A structured optimization strategy:
Our optimization strategy is aimed at determining in a very short time where there is the greatest potential for improvement and then setting priorities together with management on the topics to be addressed. In fact, in a few weeks we do a "due diligence" on business operations including concrete and jointly drawn up improvement plans.
The optimization strategy has 5 components:
- Take the picture: Focused on quickly gaining insight into the most important areas for improvement. We enter into discussions with department management and already collect as much data as possible about the departments and the activities that take place there.
- Make a heat map: Use the insights from the photo to indicate in which areas further research should be done first because we expect the greatest impact to be achieved in those areas. Together with management we discuss the heat map and determine where we will be the first to conduct further research.
- Go on the shop floor: We use the Lean principle of "Go & See" here. We go to the workplace and enter into discussions with employees who work daily in the areas that we want to investigate further. Here, the employee is central as a source and we give substance to the change strategy. De is also the start of creating the "Leading coalition".
- Get the basics in order: Basic elements are often missing to steer the company. Consider measurable KPIs that are also connected to each other. What are the business goals? Is the customer central? How do we translate customer wishes into our daily operational management? What does our dashboard look like? We start this part as early as possible because it provides insight into the current performance of the company and it is also the baseline measurement so that we gain insight into the results of the changes during the improvement processes.
- Continue to improve: Based on the insights gained, we work together with employees and managers to achieve actual improvements. We do this in a structured way with the aim of improving predictability and quality of work. Product rationalization, Channel migration and Process Optimization are crucial steps in this order to prepare for automation or robotization.
3 Focus on stopping wastage to create space.
Changing, improving and also just working on daily activities demands a lot from the managers and employees. Crucial to change is that people have time and space to work on the changes. This is 1 of the important pillars of our change strategy. We implement this to identify activities that we can stop based on the insights gained in consultation with managers and employees. Stopping activities gives room to work on improvements and immediately saves time and money.
4 Enable employees and managers to do it themselves.
We believe that employees form the core of the improvements. Not only are they the best source of suggestions for improvement, but they are also closest to the customer. From the Lean perspective, the customer is central, so the employees are closest to that. Managers have a huge responsibility to facilitate employees. Our approach also provides for a pragmatic Lean Orange Belt training. A training in 4 modules that takes employees and managers along in a very pragmatic way in Lean and allows them to work on concrete improvements in their own work during the training. As icing on the cake, the participants also receive an accredited Lean Orange Belt certificate.
By training employees and managers, we work on the leading coalition and we build on the change capacity of the organization. We are only successful if we are no longer needed and the employees and managers are able to implement the improvements further. Training is therefore part of the approach.
Our guiding principles"
Our consultants apply a number of principles or principles that form our compass in everything we do. The principles we use are:
Respect for every individual: Every bad process was once conceived and it was a good idea to do it that way. We do not judge and assume that everyone goes to work every day to make the best of it. The process allows people to make mistakes and not the other way around. People don't do stupid things, they just have to be helped to reconsider whether the method is still the best method today.
If you crawl a step is already a progress: Try to find out what the minimum requirements are for your product or process. People tend to want to build Rolls Royces while a Volkswagen Polo might solve the problem. We constantly try to find out what we really need to help the customer.
Time is more important than money: Of course money is directly related to time and yet we say that time is more important than money. We believe that it is better to make a (partial) solution that is directly applicable than to keep trying to think about whether you can touch everything with your solution. Implementing an improvement quickly means that you benefit quickly from the improvement.
Embrace small improvements: In addition to the previous principle, we find it extremely important to value all improvements, no matter how small. Not just for the reasons above, but perhaps even more important because it motivates employees and shows that they themselves are capable of making improvements. This is also part of our change strategy.
Don't wait but do it if possible: Sometimes a problem is immediately clear and you also know (exactly) what you should do to solve it. We encourage you to take immediate action. Usually it concerns smaller and isolated problems. If afterwards you notice that you were not exactly right with the solution, then you have certainly learned and probably caused little or no damage. This seems in contrast to the principle of "start with the end picture in mind" but it certainly is not, this is also an important part of our change strategy.
There are problems to solve: There is no change without setbacks. Of course you come across complex issues or not everyone in the organization will be cheering for what we do. We see this as normal steps in a change process and not as a setback or problem. Yes it exists and so you have to do something with it. There are problems to solve or to deal with. We believe that we are at the wheel ourselves when it comes to solving problems, of course we do this together with employees and management, but we are not going to wait for someone else to "resolve" the problem spontaneously.
Make it simple. If you are in the middle of the matter as a manager or employee, it is not easy for everyone to rise above the matter. Sometimes it seems that everything you do has to do with each other and that all the steps you take are unique and customer-specific. We try to distance ourselves and put the work in perspective. We think that if someone finds something very complicated, he or she simply does not understand it well enough. We strive to help people see that from a distance there are more similarities in the work than you would initially think. We break through the complexity and help make it simple again.
Think big and act small: Of course we were inspired by Stephen R. Covey and the "seven habits of highly effective people". We do not have to describe all 7 habits here, but the habit of starting only when you see the end appeals to us very much in this context. Organizations in difficulty tend to push movement / change without it being clear to everyone exactly where it needs to go. So we will always try to make the end goal explicit with each other and aim for a step by step approach to reach the goal. Yes, here we are also inspired by the Agile principles.