The My Business Excellence (MBE) Framework is for any SME business that wishes to become high performing in the shortest possible time. It comprises five Prerequisites for excellence, all driven by the need to ensure Customer Delight in everything. Download a copy of our eBook to the right of this post if you would like more detailed information.
How can you convert these five high level Prerequisites into concrete action?
Unfortunately, most SME business CEOs and their employees spend almost all their time working IN the business. To implement business excellence and reap the huge rewards, you and your employees need to work ON the business for some of the time. By following our MBE approach, the completed process improvement projects free up time, which allows you and your people to spend even more time working ON the business. This feedback loop makes things easier and easier.
So the hard part is to get started and build momentum.
The Four Phases of Implementation
The fast track to excellence requires four distinct implementation phases. The first three phases rapidly build the capability necessary for successful transformation of your business, and take place over the first two years. We help our clients execute these first three phases, during which substantial net benefits are realised – even within the first 12 months.
Phase 1: FOUNDATION (8 weeks)
The FOUNDATION phase is critical because it sets up the five Prerequisites for excellence ready for implementation and full integration in the subsequent phases.
The CEO must be fully committed and prepared to lead the charge. Furthermore, the CEO and other people in managerial roles need to have (or develop) a collective leadership style that empowers employees to work in small autonomous teams to get things done. If you have an ‘autocratic’ (does TO people) or ‘hero’ (does FOR people) leadership style and you are not prepared to change, then this approach is not for you or your business. The ideal leadership style is either ‘coach’ (does WITH people) or ‘enabler’ (does THROUGH people). Success with the MBE approach is absolutely dependent on getting all your people excited about and engaged in improving the business.
SME businesses that don’t have a formal but dynamic strategy have no chance of becoming excellent performers. SME businesses that DO formulate a strategy but don’t follow through ensuring key stakeholders take ownership and the proper infrastructure is in place are likely to have it gather dust in a drawer. Developed during a 2-day workshop involving your management team, the strategic plan is depicted graphically on a single page. Depending on the perceived rate of change in your industry, the horizon for your strategic plan may be 1,2 or 3 years out.
Strategy formulation is only part of what must happen during the 2-day strategic planning workshop. In addition, the business develops a 1-page process view of its entire business operation. All work in your business is done through its processes. The agreed 1-page Process Model depicts all the Key Business Processes (for external Customers) plus all the Key Support Processes (for internal Customers = your own employees). A willing part-time Process Manager is assigned to each one.
In all subsequent phases, the assigned Process Managers are accountable for deploying the strategic Objectives and for effecting local process improvements via measurable quarterly Projects. For this reason, special emphasis during the FOUNDATION phase is placed on training the nominated Process Managers in their new part-time role. Time is also devoted to finalising the right KPIs for each Objective and each Key Process.
- Run your strategy workshop and develop a clear roadmap of what you’re going to achieve over the 2 year transition period, plus the steps to get there! NOTE: You will review your strategy and its KPIs every month, and you will formally roll the strategy forward once every year. Your strategy will need to change over time, but that’s no excuse not having one to guide your journey. The main deliverables of this strategy workshop are your 1-Page Process Model for Running Your Business and your 1-Page Strategy for Changing Your Business.
- Ensure your key people have ownership of the Key Processes within your business and understand their crucial roles as Process Managers.
- Make sure you have the right infrastructure for reporting and knowledge management. Without it, you’re going to have to work much harder each month to measure your progress and document your process changes in later phases.
- Get buy-in from all employees and the board if applicable. This is your shared strategic direction, make sure everyone is pulling the same way.
- Finalise the set of KPIs for Strategic Objectives and for all Key Processes.
Phase 2: LAUNCH (10 months)
During this phase, the rubber hits the road. You begin to execute your strategy in full.
The Process Managers of your Key Support Processes are the main drivers of progress, backed up by the Process Managers of the Key Business Processes.
In this phase you’ll begin to build momentum and realise positive net benefits within just a few months. Efficiencies gained through six or so quarterly Fast Process Improvement (FPI) projects will free up time for the participating staff so they can spend even more time working on the business, freeing up even more time. Exciting Stuff.
Importantly, the benefits generated by the end of Year 1 will be well in excess of all internal and external implementation costs.
- Your Process Managers are the engine room for implementing business excellence. Train them for success.
- Throughout this LAUNCH phase, your Objectives begin to be deployed via carefully targeted quarterly FPI projects sponsored by a few of the Process Managers.
- A total of 6 or so quarterly ‘bottom up’ FPI Projects will be completed in this 10-month phase. Each project is undertaken by a small cross-functional team working autonomously under the sponsorship of a Process Manager. The Process Manager chooses and defines their quarterly project to best contribute to a strategic Objective.
- The proven return on investment for these projects will be well over 5 to 1 and the efficiencies gained will help free up your company’s resources to make further improvements.
- Provided your business has more than 50 full time employees, you’ll trigger your first major Business Process Reengineering (BPR) project this year.
- Each month a progress meeting will occur to review the strategic Objectives and Key Processes to ensure everything remains on track.
- At the end of Year 1, your Strategic Plan will be formally reviewed and ‘rolled forward’ to reflect any major changes required.
Phase 3: GROWTH (Year 2)
In this GROWTH phase, you will accelerate penetration of the knowledge and skills needed to implement the approach. Many more of your employees will become actively engaged with the same techniques already introduced in Phases 1 and 2. Your leaders will continue to nurture and empower their employees using these proven techniques.
Many experts estimate it takes years to instil a new culture, particularly in very large businesses. However, our MBE techniques designed for SMEs enable a culture of continuous improvement to be instilled much faster. By the end of Year 2, you will be well on your way because most of your employees will have been actively involved each quarter in improving the processes of the business and progressively achieving the strategic Objectives.
- Dependent on the number of Key Processes in the business, the number of quarterly projects undertaken in this phase will be dependent on the available resources but certainly will be far greater than the 6 or so projects completed in the LAUNCH phase.
- You will also undertake one or two large ‘top down’ Business Process Reengineering (BPR) Projects.
- By the end of this phase, you will see a culture of continuous improvement beginning to flourish within your business.
- At the end of Year 2, your Strategic Plan will again be formally reviewed and ‘rolled forward’ to reflect any major changes required.
Phase 4: CONSOLIDATION (beyond Year 2)
This ongoing phase is about maintaining what you have and institutionalising the approach so that it becomes ‘Business As Usual’. You will continue to deploy your strategic Objectives via carefully chosen quarterly projects executed by small autonomous teams. Almost all your employees will become actively engaged.
By the end of Year 2, you will be well on the way to being a high performing business with runs on the board. And you’re likely be regarded as a leader in your industry.
Some might baulk at the 2-year timeframe outlined above. However, if you look at the results over those two years –
- Successfully executing your strategy
- Significant productivity gains through lots of Fast Process Improvement Projects, with an average ROI of at least 5 to 1.
- Massive productivity gains and new capabilities added through Process Reengineering
- A culture of continuous improvement
- Overall cumulative net savings over 5 years of at least 22.5% of this year’s Sales revenue. Forecast the savings for your business. For example, an SME currently turning over say $50M per annum, will save at least $11.2M over the next 5 years with this implementation approach. This is too much for you or your shareholders to ignore.
Building a high performing business does not happen overnight, but with the systematic, step by step process outlined above you will get there.