The Business Improvement Network

Business Improvement: From Chaos to Structure

By Anna Rudenko

Anna Rudenko

Maybe, for some readers it will seem strange, but the fact is that not all the businesses have clear strategy of their development. Some businesses are launched with a great desire to earn money. Time comes when it starts to give more and more. New employees are coming, new expenses are appearing and to the question: “What would you like to get from your business” – an owner doesn’t know what to answer. Because to earn more is not already a motivating factor for him and where and how to move his company is not clear at all. This is a case of the company that we would speak about. I should say that this is a very active young team. From one side they had really a lot of projects that were going on, sometimes they finished them, but very often they started something new, something more ambitious and better (as they thought). And as a result, a total absence of understanding where the company was moving and why all these projects were launched.

Their first step was to gather the team and with the help of a facilitator to define their vision and the ways to get there. Within the session mostly techniques of TOP-facilitation were used. So, the team defined the vision for 3 years, analysed the trends, their strengths and weaknesses. The most difficult part was to say honestly about barriers that prevent company to move further, and one of the crucial obstacle was that the team had too many ideas, that they launched without real understanding why, what and the most important which result they would like to get. Because they just think that this idea is wonderful. So, they were always busy, a lot of activities were around but little change in fact.

The team realised that they were busy and fond of the process of projects realisation and not of their results. And of course, too demotivated at summarising the results because the result was not clear. So, the sense of urgency was clear for everybody, and it may seem that this change will become a habit very fast. But all of us know that habit change is not as easy as it may seem. What did the team do?

First of all, the team identified the strategic directions in which they plan to launch their projects, KPIs how to measure and prioritise main projects. What did they decide more? That from now they will not start any projects before clear understanding what will be the result. Also, the decision was taken to attend training on project management to align the knowledge of the whole team and to establish the rules of project management in the company. They felt motivated to implement new behaviors and habits that would probably make they lives easier.

What is the most difficult in the change? You are right, to implement and not to give up too early. So, what was next implemented: first of all, project management training for all the managers. The implementation of digital follow-up of the projects was a must. What was a reaction of the team: disappointment as it was taking too much time to write it down, to put in the system and to follow-up and bla-bla-bla. Of course, it is much easier not to have a project plan at all. Within one of the monthly meeting one top manager reminded the whole team about the obstacle that they mentioned all together just one month ago and it was a big push to move forward. Within next 2 months all the projects were reviewed on the goal, benefits, clear results, team, leader and were chosen 20 projects that were really mowing the company to the strategic goals. Also, all these projects were split in steps, responsible and were introduced in the system for easy follow-up. Each team of the project decided on time of regular meeting on the project and made an appointment in the calendar. First 2 months were really hard for the team, as it first took too much time to create the project and to think about all the components. But at the same time they learned not just doing and implementing some new ideas but also compare the results and analyse the efficiency of made efforts. Also within this exercise it became clear how many change projects can be done at the same time in the company.

What was the result 6 months later? All the projects were under control of the team, they were still prioritising all their crazy ideas, and even created a waiting list. It became clear that they needed one person, expert in project management to push and drive the whole team, so they introduced this person to be more efficient in operations, and as a result strategic goals were met as it was planned. As for me it is good result for the company who had never even thought about the strategy, barriers and never implemented changes in a structured way.

About the author

Anna Rudenko is Business Consultant and Continuous Improvement specialist working with international companies to improve and structure their processes. Anna's native languages are Russian and Ukrainian, and also she speaks English and French. Anna adores hiking and travelling.

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"Excellent firms don't believe in excellence - only in constant improvement and constant change"

Tom Peters