In my last post, Beware the Change within a Change, we looked at the damage done when one organization didn’t pay sufficient attention to a change within a change. It’s easy to get distracted when dealing with a major project, like an acquisition. But, as we learned, being busy with a big change is no excuse for ignoring other significant changes that are going on concurrently. Appropriate oversight and diligence is always needed.
In this post, we’ll review the approach new owners took with a successful, forty year old, formerly family owned manufacturing company to improve bottom line results. They used just the right blend of project and change management best practices and lean techniques to transform the organization and improve performance while retaining and growing their customer base.
Thanks to D.N. for the details on this case.
This manufacturing organization had been recently acquired by a private equity firm. The acquirers justified the acquisition on a number of factors: the company had a long history of success, profitability and growth; it had a diverse and loyal customer base; it had narrow but very competitive product lines; the family wanted to sell. In addition, there was an expectation that profitability could be boosted significantly by improving manufacturing productivity and quality and offering a suit of new products.
“You are remembered for the rules you break.”
Anyone who has studied the history of medicine will notice that some of our biggest breakthroughs have been the result of a single scientist breaking the rules. History tells us these are the same people who have also effectively changed a conventional paradigm. For example, the world is flat, wash your hands, earth revolves around the sun. Often times, the rule-breaking scientist pays a considerable price for being a change agent. The pain of change forces an outlandish idea to become a piece of conventional wisdom.
Even in the social sciences, we often see rule breaking as a means to progress and enlightenment. Just look at Rosa Parks and others like her during the Civil Rights Movement. Nelson Mandela in the face of Apartheid. Ronald Reagan challenge to Gorbachev to tear the wall down.
Project results drive business performance! In my experience in working with countless companies ranging from small to multi-billion dollar ones, I’ve yet to run across one that wasn’t dependent on project results to meet critical company objectives. Actually, quite the opposite is typically the case – too many projects with too few resources are vital to performance. Thus, those executives who find ways to ensure project success will outpace the competition.
For example, one of my significant manufacturing aerospace clients is experiencing delivery challenges. Thus, there are several projects which are geared towards improving the order fulfilment processes to improve delivery performance. If they do not deliver results, customers will leave. What could be more important than that?
The bottom line is that project failure is not an option! Yet 0% of my clients have enough resources, and they are especially short on the right resources with the right skills to deliver these projects. Given this state of affairs, it is important to understand the top project pitfalls – and, of course, how to avoid them.