The recently introduced operating model was making a big difference in the market and adapting well to the increasing volumes; but the demanding market environment and increasing levels of risk management and compliance was causing the management team to increasingly focus on day-to-day operational details.
What was needed was a simple approach to identifying the areas that required focus & action by the executive management team. We had become accustomed to reviewing extensive management information on a monthly basis, and lacked the necessary prioritisation of those business areas that would lead us to becoming number one in the market. Our regular monthly meetings had become mostly operational, lacked the time to focus on strategic issues and often created a sense of frustration amongst all those that attended.
The challenge we faced was not a business intelligence issue…we probably had too much information; we needed to fundamentally change the way we worked together as a team. We engaged Vsolution Management consultants to assist us with defining our problem statement and identifying a way forward.
The joint team came up with a concept of a “Heat Pad” to indicate the performance of the network across several dimensions. The “Heat Pad” was supported by prioritized performance scorecards which used the traditional dimensions, and also aligned to our business value chain. The alignment to the value chain helped clarify measures, assign accountability, define roles and demonstrated significant opportunity for increased collaboration.
This approach gave the management team a tool to identify problem areas, and then drill down into the detail. The “Heat Pads” included the obvious financial targets, but also the regional performance in areas such as Compliance, Operational Risk, New Business Acquisition etc. The team worked to align and prioritise our performance measures from Exco down to functional/regional manager level; eight measures were identified at Exco level providing clear strategic direction and tangible measures of success.
To my surprise we identified a number of important new measures, such as market competitiveness or service failures – which will challenge our collective perceptions and demand improved performance from our team and business partners in the areas that matter to our clients.
The fresh look at what the business was about, what was needed to become number one and how each area contributed, created a shift in mindset – the team is becoming increasingly proactive, coordinated and identifying “offensive” strategies.
For instance the National Operations Scorecard showed SLA performance allowing Exco to see the performance of my key business partners, and the inclusion of Service Failures demonstrated a commitment to engage and improve critical aspects of our client value proposition. This experience was repeated with all our internal business partners, and the result was a team with greater understanding of what was needed to become number one.
THE BUSINESS OUTCOME
The new approach allowed us to more effectively address the key business challenges, and prioritise resources to the areas that will have the biggest impact. The collaboration between support functions and the regions has increased dramatically, and the quality of engagement has noticeably improved. Systemic solutions are now being discussed.
The team is learning to constructively challenge each other – the facts, the solutions but never the individual – to identify the few important things that need to be done really well to achieve first prize.
We have come a long way in a short period of time, but this was only the start of the journey. Having established a foundation of “smart” measurement, we need to raise our game. The intention is to work far smarter and to achieve a greater return on management effort.
We now need to focus on using the tools to enhance our collective management and leadership abilities, better understand trade-offs, improve prioritisation and generally work smarter to exceed the targets for next year.