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Moving from Knowing to Doing

I love being a consultant. Having had the privilege of access deep within many companies during my career, it turns out that there are not many business problems that are unique. It’s fun to be the

fresh set of eyes on an issue, and do some observation, data gathering and conversation with the employees to get at the root causes of impediments to greater profitability.

The reward comes in having the client warmly embrace the diagnosis of the challenges as well as the recommended improvement opportunities.

But a warm embrace is not the same as implementation:

  • Following our assessment phase, a client agreed that major benefits could be had by slashing SKUs, reducing inventory safety stock, formalizing an S&OP process, instilling project management discipline in the new product introduction process, and clearly defining roles and responsibilities throughout the org chart. But rather than fixing one of these completely, and then moving on to the next, they attempted little “tweaks” in each of these areas. None of these will result in noticeable differences in performance, because they don’t go far enough.

  • I led a cross-functional team of client employees for another company to greatly improve customer service through a Lean approach to the Quote to Cash process. The 6-month project, offering coordinated initiatives encompassing hundreds of mainly small quantifiable improvements was presented to the executive team, with a 2-year roadmap for implementation. Now, almost a year later, the report is gathering dust on a bookshelf, and I bet that the incremental approach of tackling a few of the improvement ideas has had an imperceptible impact on customer experience.

I’m trained and experienced in Change Management. The identification of root causes and suggested improvements mainly come from the client’s team members. Despite this, I’ve not cracked the code on moving some of these clients from the DMAIC Analyze phase to the Improve phase.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be paid for the analysis, but the real satisfaction, financial and intellectual, comes with leading or participating in the transition to a greatly improved future state.

If you have encountered reticence to implement business improvement roadmaps and attain the return on investment detailed in the business case, please weigh in:

  • Why do some executives reach out for help, overwhelmingly concur with the analysis and path forward, yet stop short of doing the things necessary to solve the most important problems that the organization faces?

  • Is the answer to turn down opportunities that don’t commit to implementation up front?

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