Where Are You Going?

Strategies for Organization Success.

It’s no secret that there are many factors directly linked to the performance of your organization. Possibly the most important of these factors, and most devastating when things go wrong, is your organization’s culture. At Alber Enterprise Center, we recognize culture as the collection of behaviors, beliefs, values, interactions, and attitudes that impact how things get done in your organization. These are reflected in your organizational processes, systems, communications, products/services, and most importantly your public image.

So what happens when your organizational culture doesn’t align with your organizational goals?

Well…you’ll find yourself fighting an uphill battle if you ever desire or NEED to create change to stay competitive. A culture that is aligned with strategic goals drives better performance, greater financial returns, clearer vision, and employees who are more motived, happy, and engaged.

Doesn’t that sound great? You’re probably wondering…how do we know if our culture is aligned with our goals? Or, if you have the inclination to believe that your culture is not aligned, you may be wondering…where do we begin to gain alignment?

You may have heard the saying “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Well, that can indeed be the case when your strategy doesn’t take into account your culture’s influence. What about positioning your culture to enable strategy? What about taking a positive perspective and focusing on your strengths to better enable your strategy? Research supports that leaders who invest the same energy in their cultures as they do other key performance measures experience greater organizational success.

Noted authors on organizational change and culture, such as Kotter and Cameron & Quinn, claim that today’s organizations must be able to successfully undergo change if they are to succeed in an increasingly complex and constantly shifting society. Change is imperative, yet organizations rarely meet their intended objectives. Leaders may set out to change the “shiny object” such as technical alterations in processes to try to improve performance; however, in reality it is typically a culture change that is needed for their organization to meet their objectives.

Can you imagine a culture that utilizes what your organization is doing well to help you do even better? Taking a strengths approach will allow you to create positive momentum and experience positive returns sooner than later. Here are four steps we at Alber believe are the ways to getting a strengths-based culture.

  • Gather information through structured assessments to fully understand your current situation
  • Assess the gaps between where the data reveals you are vs. your ideal situation for optimal performance and success in your organization
  • Determine how to move from where you are to where you want to be
  • Implement an intentional plan that engages your new strengths-based culture and mindset.

These strategies will move the needle to greater organizational success.

Embrace the Changes: Quality & Environmental Management Systems

by Larry W. Sheppard, ISO 14001-2015 EMS & ISO 9001-2015 QMS Consultant

Companies currently certified to ISO 14001-2004 and ISO 9001-2008 must be re-certified to the revised standards by September 15th 2018 or risk the possibility of losing their certification.  The new standards did not add any new requirements; however, some of the existing requirements in the 2015 versions have significant changes. Transition for ISO 14001-2004 and ISO 9001-2008 certified companies should be easy to implement since they have an EMS/QMS base that meets most of the requirements of the 2015 version.

This is where the Alber Enterprise Center of The Ohio State University can assist your company during the transition to the new standards. We would be glad to meet with your management staff and present the new requirements in detail.

 Main changes in ISO 14001:2015 EMS

The new requirement is to understand the organization’s context has been incorporated to identify opportunities for the benefit of both the organization and the environment. Particular focus is on issues or changing circumstances related to the needs and expectations of interested parties (including regulatory requirements) and local, regional or global environmental conditions that can affect, or be affected by, the organization. Once identified as a priority, actions to mitigate adverse risk or exploit beneficial opportunities are integrated in the operational planning of the EMS.

 To ensure the success of the system, a new clause has been added that assigns specific responsibilities for those in leadership roles to promote environmental management within the organization.

The expectation on organizations has been expanded to commit to proactive initiatives to protect the environment from harm and degradation, consistent with the context of the organization. The revised text does not define ‘protect the environment’ but it notes that it can include prevention of pollution, sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, etc. i.e. environmental performance.

There is a shift in emphasis with regard to continual improvement, from improving the management system to improving environmental performance to be consistent with the organization’s policy commitments.  In addition to the current requirement to manage environmental aspects associated with procured goods and service, organizations will need to extend its control and influence to the environmental impacts associated with product design and development to address each stage of the life cycle, i.e. acquisition of raw materials, design, production, transportation/delivery, use, end-of-life treatment and final disposal.

Main Changes in ISO 9001-2015 QMS

Major Differences in Terminology between ISO 9001- 2008 & ISO 9001-2015

 

ISO 9001-2008 ISO 9001-2015
Products Products and service
Exclusions Not used

(See Clause A.5 for clarification of applicability)

Management Representative Not used (Similar responsibilities and authorities are assigned but no requirement for a single management represented)
Documentation, quality manual, documented records Documented information
Work environment Environment for the operation of processes
Monitoring and measuring equipment Monitoring and measuring resources
Purchased product Externally provided product and services
Supplier External provider

 Documented Information has replaced the ISO 9001-2008 version need for the quality manuals and some procedures to define the documented QMS. Documented Information includes instructions, records of process performances, external provider’s performance, internal audits and management reviews etc.

As part of the continual improvement process risk base thinking was added to the revised standard. The concept of risk has always been implicit in ISO 9001 as preventive action. The 2015 revision makes it more explicit and builds it into the total QMS.

Through the Fog

This morning (Monday, Feb. 20th) I drove from my home to my office in Marion in very dense fog. As a matter fact, I had heard on the early news that there was a severe fog alert out for the morning. It has been a long time since I have driven in such dense fog. As I drove the back roads through the country, I realized that these are very familiar roads to me…I drive these roads several days each week. I know where all of the stop signs are, the curves and the valleys along the road. I know where to turn, where the speed limits change from 55, to 45 to 35. So, one might say, I could drive on auto pilot in this fog. However, I think we would all agree, that would not be a very wise thing to do. As we all know, things can change. Some areas as we are driving in the fog may be easier. It may not be as dense in certain areas and allows us to see a bit further ahead. At other times, there might be an obstacle in our way that we don’t see until the last minute, such as a deer crossing the road (which, fortunately, did not happen to me). The dense fog complicates this because it impairs our visibility. So, I found myself driving slower, being more intentional, more cautious and making sure I was aware of all of my surroundings.

This got me to thinking about the parallel for many organizations. Some organizations navigate very well through the fog. Others have a difficult time seeing what is ahead. Visibility is limited. There are obstacles in their way they don’t see. And this impacts their effectiveness, their employee engagement, turnover, the ability to attract and retain a qualified workforce and most likely, their overall bottom line.

Organizations need to have a plan when the fog rolls in. And there are times when that happens – suddenly and unexpectedly, whether it is due to outside forces (i.e. the economy) or internal forces (change in leadership, shift in supply and demand). How can organizations be strategic about navigating these treacherous roads? There are several things that can be done.

Begin with a mission and vision that serves as the foundation for all that you do. This is your organization’s lighthouse in the dense fog. It helps people see their way. Establish a long-term strategic goal and develop an action plan with S.M.A.R.T. goals. And then use it…refer to it…update and refine as you go along. Get input from your employees – the ones who are doing the work. You would be surprised how many great ideas they have – they just need to be asked and given the opportunity to share them.

Once the fog lifts and you are comfortably back ‘in the driver’s seat’ with clear visibility ahead, be sure to say thank you to those who helped get the organization through the fog…i.e. the challenging time. Begin to look ahead and plan for the next time the fog rolls in…because, as we all know from experience, it will.

Employee Training: Part 1

DSCN0345When we ask “What is employee training?” it is not surprising that we get different responses.  Of course, no one particular answer is more correct than another.  One definition of training to consider is as follows: Training is the process whereby people acquire capabilities to perform jobs.  No company wants poorly trained employees.  Their mistakes can be very costly to your company.  Training provides employees with specific, identifiable knowledge and skills.  Sometimes we will talk about training and development together.  Development is different than training. Employee development is broader in scope and focuses on employees gaining new capabilities useful for both present and future employment.  Training may include “hard” skills and “soft” skills. A “hard” skill would be learning how to operate a machine or piece of equipment.  A “soft” skill would be how to effectively communicate with other employees.

In this series of articles, we will discuss several key components of employee training.  These include the following:

  • Training defined.
  • Strategic training approach.
  • Four phases of the training process.
  • Types of analysis to determine training needs.
  • Internal, external and e-learning training delivery methods.
  • Levels of training evaluation.
  • Intercultural competence training for global employers.

We have seen contemporary training in companies change considerably over the years.  Factors affecting the changes include the competitive environment and technology.  Four specific areas have been affected.  Each area is discussed below:

A. Organizational Competitiveness and Training

Companies realize that training their employees is important to a successful business.  Estimates say approximately $60 billion is spent annually on training in the U.S.  On average this expense is 1.5% – 2.0% of payroll expenses.  This data is from a study conducted by The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).  Training can be compared to “continuous improvement.”  If your employees are not properly trained, you could lose competitive advantage in the market.  Retraining good employees is enhanced by an effective training program.

B. Knowledge Management and Training

Historically, competitive advantage among companies was measured in terms of physical capital.  Today, “intelligence” is considered a raw material used by “knowledge workers.”  Knowledge management is the way a company identifies and leverages knowledge in order to be competitive.  Technology can help transmit knowledge, but having technology does not mean employees will use it to manage knowledge effectively.  Knowledge management is a conscious effort to get the right knowledge to the right employees at the right time.  This way it is shared and implemented in your company.

C. Training as a Revenue Source

Many companies make a profit from selling training.  In some cases, training is included with a product purchase, for example, a new human resources information software package.  Purchasing a new machine for the production department can be less than successful without proper training from the manufacturer.  Future sales can be increased by providing product training.

D. Integration of Performance on Training

Job performance, training and employee learning must be integrated to be effective.  The link between training and job performance is critical.  Let’s look at safety fall protection personal protective equipment (PPE).  If your employees were simply shown a training video it is doubtful that the equipment would be used properly.  As an alternate method of training, the trainer could demonstrate how to properly put on the equipment, have the employees put the equipment on themselves and provide real-time feedback.  We think it is obvious which training method works better.  Other topics could incorporate everyday business issues as learning examples.  This would increase the realism of training exercises and scenarios.  This method integrates training, learning and job performance.

John M. Turner, Ph.D. is the President of JMT & Associates and a solutions partner who has been providing quality human resources consulting and training to Alber Enterprise Center’s clients for several years.  Please contact info@alberosu.com for more information on John’s services.

Using the SIPOC Model to Break the Silo Culture

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Managers often see large and complex organizations from a functional or vertical view.  This works in some cases where individuals are close to subject matter experts.  In this environment subordinate managers tend to perceive other functions as enemies rather than partners.

This silo structure prevents interdepartmental issues from being resolved.

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Each department has its goals and there is often competition for limited resources.  The result is sub-optimization of the organization – one department being able to meet its goals at the expense of the organization.

The traditional approach shows a silo structure where separate and autonomous groups are unconnected and each department’s manager becomes the customer.  Activities take place but value to the end customer may be compromised.

If the organization is small, then the traditional vertical organization may be sufficient to get things done and still meet the requirements of the customer.

 

The traditional mindset is- if each piece is managed then the needs of the end customer are met.  This is erroneous.

The silo structure often gives rise to a silo culture, one that does not encourage collaboration, but instead perpetuates the “blame game” and “finger-pointing”.  There are several structures within the organization that supports this behavior.  In some cases, there are functional metrics which conflict with the overall direction of the company, in other cases the reward and recognition system supports the silo culture.

The SIPOC template moves organizations away from this and provides the steps to create a customer focused organization.

What is SIPOC

The acronym means – Supplier, Input, Process, Output, Customer

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In the SIPOC model, it is necessary to have a feedback system – feedback between the customer and the process, and between the process and the supplier.  The feedback loop ensures that the process is sustained and the organization does not revert to the old ways of doing things.

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Value of SIPOC

  • Promotes cross-functional collaboration – teams are able to work together to see the big picture
  • Improves knowledge on what happens outside of the department
  • Provides measurement not only on activities within a department but how they add value to the customer
  • A big tool for motivation -as employees begin to see the “big picture” and understand the role they play
  • In Lean Six Sigma the SIPOC model is vital for:
  • Promotes and helps sustain a process focus
  • Provides a foundation for process mapping and process management

Although organizations may be designed by specialties, the SIPOC model is useful to change how work gets done, and ensure that the needs of the external customers are met.  The tool provides the template for changing the culture of the organization from one that is confrontational to one that works across functional boundaries.  When this is allowed to happen, teams can identify and remove waste – activities that are non-value added in terms of meeting customer requirements.

The bottom-line is that the SIPOC model and Lean Six Sigma have the ability to change the thinking of individuals in the organization.  For more information, contact us or call 740-725-6325.

Norma Simons is Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, president of Performance Innovation LLC, and an AEC Solution Partner.  Norma heads a team of qualified professionals in the areas of Lean and Six Sigma.  Her success is attributed to her unique integration of performance improvement systems such as Lean, Six Sigma, Design for Six Sigma, quality management systems, business operating systems, and balanced scorecards that have enabled the effective execution of organizational strategy and, ultimately, bottom-line results.

7 Ways to Align Strategies Within your Organization

vision_and_alignment-325090-editedDo you run your company, or business unit, like items on a checklist?

This could mean that the organization is not aligned and that you are generating waste.

“Great Performance is 1% Vision 99% Alignment” Jim Collins, author of Good to Great

Every organization or institution, for profit or non-profit, is required to achieve results.  The method of getting those results can be structured, or unstructured.

In most cases organizations may have a vision, yet manage by using a strong silo structure.  Every department has its goals and do the best to achieve the stated objective but activities may conflict with the work of other departments.

There is a certain level of waste as groups within organizations work against each other.

Norma Simons, President of Performance Innovation LLC and AEC Solution Partner

Norma Simons, President of Performance Innovation LLC and AEC Solution Partner

Can you achieve results?  Most definitely!!  Most companies and institutions achieve success for years with this model.

However, the problem becomes difficult when changes have to be made over a short period of time.  Such changes may include:

  • Radical changes in the economy
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Quick changes in existing customer requirements
  • New markets with new demands
  • The company hires new employees
  • Radical changes in the use of technology, etc.

Question: So how can you ensure that you change and still achieve organizational alignment?

Answer: Develop a Structured Business Operating System.

How can this be achieved?

  1. Vision Mission Values–Begin with a clear understanding of the vision, mission and values.  If they do not exist, then the management team should spend time to document them in a way that is clear and concise.
  2. Strategic Objectives–Document the strategic objectives of the organization as a whole.  Once this is done then this should be in a strategy map (a one page document summarizing the strategic objectives) so that it can be clearly communicated throughout the organization.
  3. Performance Measures (KPIs)– Based on the vision and strategic objectives top management should identify the top 10 key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be used to track performance.
  4. Standard Documentation–Each measurement should be placed on a run chart that shows performance over time.  A Pareto chart can be used to document the top areas that impact performance.  Problem solving teams should then identify the root cause of the performance and solutions that need to be in place for improvement.
  5. Deployment–The key performance measures identified by top management must be deployed in all areas of the organization.  This allows all employees to keep track of activities in each area and to be a part of problem solving activities.
  6. Review–The entire organization needs to have a systematic review process that focuses on key performance measures created in each area.  During the review process, teams evaluate the performance metric and the results of problem solving activity.
  7. Visual Management–The visual management system contains information on the key performance drivers in each area, and results of problem solving activity.  The system serves to communicate the progress of the company as it relates to key areas.

Every organization performs all these and more – so this is not new.  However it is the use of a structured process that will ensure that the organization can achieved expected results in a short time as well as promoting employee engagement.

At a recent luncheon for The Ohio State University Alber Enterprise Center (AEC), I was asked to deliver the following presentation.  Flip through the SlideShare “Aligning Strategies with Operations” to get a few ideas on how to achieve alignment.  

For more information about aligning your processes, contact us at 740-725-6325. 

Norma Simons is Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, president of Performance Innovation LLC, and an AEC Solution Partner.  Norma heads a team of qualified professionals in the areas of Lean and Six Sigma. Her success is attributed to her unique integration of performance improvement systems such as Lean, Six Sigma, Design for Six Sigma, quality management systems, business operating systems, and balanced scorecards that have enabled the effective execution of organizational strategy and, ultimately, bottom-line results.

Three techniques in boosting your organization’s capacity

Continuous Process Improvement Graphic

Environmental and Quality Management Systems Consulting-Continuous Improvement Process (ISO-14001-2004 EMS & ISO 9001-2008 QMS)

When starting a continuous improvement (CI) project, the simplest and the most important thing to do is to communicate to your organization and clients that you want to continually improve the services provided.  State this intention through strategy reviews and team briefings.  This is the most effective way to get the CI culture moving.

Environmental & Quality Management Systems Consultant for Certified Environmental, Inc and JAS & Associates of Ohio, LLC

Larry W. Sheppard, Environmental & Quality Management Systems Consultant for The Ohio State University’s Alber Enterprise Center, Certified Environmental, Inc. and JAS & Associates of Ohio, LLC

To help us improve faster than the competition we should aim to empower the team to make improvement directly.  This has the advantage of boosting your improvement capacity; it also allows for far more hidden improvement opportunities to be realized.  Some organizations may tend to channel improvement activity through dedicated improvement teams or individuals.  This approach can be limited due to the lack of improvement capacity.  All team members can be encouraged to engage in improvement activity, maximizing the volume of change and improvement that can be achieved.  To achieve total team empowerment, a robust but simple change process should be introduced that allows all team members to make changes.

The focus should be on allowing all team members to make controlled changes by following a well-designed change process.  Improvement culture can be measured by the number of improvements identified and actioned by the organization.  It’s good practice to routinely report on CI progress back to the team and clients; this can underpin the organization’s commitment to continual improvement activity.

There are obvious commercial advantages that can be gained from a healthy and robust CI culture. However, it should also be pointed out that an empowered team will tend to be more productive due to the direct input from the owners into the business’s success.  Team moral can be greatly improved by encouraging their involvement.  Managed correctly, this team member responsibility can further improve an organization’s responsiveness and change of pace.  CI organizations are nice places to be, where team members are more likely to use their full potential.

There are many tools and techniques that can be used to help boost your team’s improvement capacity. Usually these require some training to be effective.  But it should be pointed out that specialized tools are not necessarily required to enable a successful CI culture.

3 Steps in Revamping Your Business Culture:

  • Kaizen:  Kaizen, or Continuous Improvement Teams can be encouraged to evolve to tackle specific improvement opportunities.  Groups can be trained to be more effective, but teams can also evolve organically without specific training.
  • Lean:  This training will help your team to become faster and reduce costs.  Lean training allows staff to identify and reduce wasted effort.  Usually deployed within an organization or group, this is the perfect training to support an established CI culture.
  • Six Sigma:  Six Sigma is best used to improve the standard of products and services by reducing output variation.  Six Sigma should only be used following good Lean and 5S development.

CI can be developed into any organization relatively easily and with little cost.  

Good management and leadership is the key to success.  By following the three simple steps above an improvement culture can flourish in your business.

Most CI projects require little or no cost.  An accumulation of several small improvements are sometime better than one large improvement.

Larry W. Sheppard is an Environmental & Quality Management Systems Consultant for The Ohio State University’s Alber Enterprise Center, JAS & Associates of Ohio, LLC, and Certified Environmental, Inc. His expertise is in implementing Environmental and Quality Management Systems for companies, preparing companies for their ISO Standards third party certification, providing Internal Auditor training and much more.

Visit our Contact Us Page or call 740-725-6325 to find out how our team can assist you or your organization in reaching your optimal success.

Why We Love Lean Six Sigma and You Should Too: Get Started

Norma Simons, President of Performance Innovation LLC and AEC Solution Partner

Norma Simons, President of Performance Innovation LLC and AEC Solution Partner

In today’s environment it is evident that the survival of organizations rests with their ability to innovate- to do things differently in order to grow.  In general we can consider two forms of innovation – radical innovation and incremental innovation.  Radical innovation can be considered as the ability to produce new products or services to the world that never appeared before – such as digital photography, Internet, Amazon, iPods, etc. Incremental innovation on the other hand can be thought of as new approaches, building on current products or processes to enhance performance.  In the end innovation of products, processes and services must add value to the customer.

Lean Six Sigma can be considered as an incremental innovative model that enables an organization to move beyond its traditional performance to new heights.

The figure below shows the definition of both concepts.

 Lean and Six Sigma are complementary and if performed properly, represent a long-term model that can produce unprecedented results.

Lean and Six Sigma are complementary and if performed properly, represent a long-term model that can produce unprecedented results.

We Love Lean Six Sigma because it provides:

  1. Focus on the customer – helping each area of the organization to understand the value of their service.  This concept is fundamental as without an understanding of needs and requirements of internal and external customers, the work provided is non-value added.
  2. Focus on process improvement – this concept is fundamental to Lean Six Sigma, without being able to identify and define processes, conditions cannot improve.
  3. Opportunities for collaboration – applying the concepts opens opportunities for collaboration as individuals now use tools to communicate across departments and encourage problem solving.
  4. Constant and continuous drive for perfection – it creates the mindset of dissatisfaction with the status quo and the need to be dedicated to a culture of continuous improvement.
  5. Standard Training – it provides common tools and language and a structured methodology for problem solving.  There are different levels of training provided to different individuals depending on their role in the organization:  Champion, Green Belt, Black Belt.
  6. Structure for change- it provides a project based approach that allows an organization to identify and instill a discipline for project management with project reviews conducted with process owners, champions and senior management.
  7. A means to provide total employee involvement –  all individuals are involved as they provide input and support problem solving activities.
  8. Demonstrates bottom-line Business Results – the bottom-line impact of every project must be measured, reported and documented.

Overall, we love it because it lays a path from strategy to execution.  Many companies have a vision but are weak on execution.  Through the structure, training, organization of tools Lean Six Sigma provides a path for achieving required results.  In addition, it can be customized to any industry and any organization.

Please contact us to use the Lean Six Sigma assessment to diagnose current weaknesses and establish a strategy for improvement.