Lisa Parker established her company “Flash” over 12 years ago after she was a very successful buyer for Nordstrom. Her company imports over 500 fashion accessory items annually, mostly from factories in Bangkok, Thailand. Proprietary designs account for twenty five percent of these items.
For about six months now, Lisa has been dissatisfied with all the mistakes coming out of their supply chain. Lisa is the principle buyer for the company, as well as head of marketing and sales. The Operations Manager in charge of the supply chain is May Hanson. Lisa has not had the time or inclination to dig into this area. Frankly she had always relied on May to handle all aspects of the “operations” of the company. Things were fine until their on-line sales spiked about a year ago and she added several chain boutique stores.
Lisa heard about Hank Jacobs, a supply chain, operations and process consulting expert. She is meeting with Hank to review his proposal to do an assessment of the operations area.
“Hank, it seems in reviewing your approach you indicate that you are not only going to thoroughly investigate the systems and processes of the entire supply chain but you also talk about determining if we have the right people in the right positions,” said Lisa, “Please tell me more about that.”
“Let me explain my philosophy about the relationship between, systems, processes and people,” Hank began. “We will discover all the critical issues that are preventing your systems, and processes from being performed seamlessly. But since systems and processes are made for and by people; the root cause of any failure in execution is always people.”
“As part of our approach we assess your key people for their suitability and fit for the responsibilities that are appropriately associated with their position,” said Hank.
“It says in your proposal that you will return a guaranteed four times ROI on your fees.” Lisa inquired, “Is that right?”
“That is absolutely correct,” Hank replied.
“Well, please start immediately so we can get things right for our customers,” said Lisa.
After three weeks of investigation and assessments Hank was ready to share with Lisa the current realities of her supply chain’s systems, processes and people.
Hank is reviewing with Lisa two of the most revealing models and diagrams. “As you can see, we have created a sequential, linear flow diagram of all your supply chains systems and their sub-processes,” Hank explained. “In this chart, we have highlighted with symbols and colors, those areas where there are disconnects, delays, and poor system or process design. This other chart documents the processes that are incomplete, erroneous, not being followed, are untrained or ignored. All of this is fixable and we will be helping your people implement all the required changes. However, remember my philosophy that systems and processes are made for and by people and executed by people, not robots.”
“So the key question is – do you have the right people in the right positions for us to effectively help you implement what needs to be done?”
“To answer that question”, Hank continues, “we assessed a few of your key supervisors and of course May Hanson. Let me say that people are complicated so I want to share with you how we use surveys in an attempt to better understand each person.”
Hank shows Lisa his “Understanding People” Iceberg Model.
“As I understand it, you have had May in this position for about five years, and during that time, you have for the most part, experienced how she behaves around you, in meetings, and perhaps with her people,” Hank said. “You have observed her decisions and actions during this time, and now discover that when pressured with increased business and stresses on the systems and processes, she is making poor decisions, not taking the right or timely actions and her people find her hard to work with. Does that about sum up your observations?” Hank asked.
“That seems right on,” Lisa agreed.
“In looking at the model, what we just discussed is observable and is above the water line,” said Hank. “We gave May and three supervisors assessments that tell us about their unique characteristics that are below the water line.”
“We gave May four assessments to take. Let me summarize the key findings,” Hank said. “To start, May is passionate about outdoor activities and feels her calling in life is to help save the planet. Her critical thinking is biased in favor of how everything affects her. She has a fairly good self-image, but is constantly comparing everything to how she thinks things ought to be. Her view of people is fairly negative and really expects them to mess up more than perform well. She has poor systemic thinking and her practical thinking is quite unconventional. All of this indicates she is not a person to be leading up the creation and execution of systems and processes,” Hank explains.
“The results also revealed that May is motivated by altruistic thinking, she does not spend a great deal of thought on your business or supply chain. She enjoys being the leader, and doesn’t like rules unless she came up with them. May has learned to get along with people and likes them to respect her position and authority, but she doesn’t command their respect. She doesn’t mind a chaotic environment because then people have to keep checking with her to get their job done. May has learned over the years how to convince people to her way of thinking by being very persuasive,”
Lisa’s mouth is a bit agape. “Well no wonder there are issues in her area, she seems to be a very poor fit for Operations Manager,” Lisa said “In fact, Lisa continued, I’m not sure where she can fit, given our mission and goals.”
“Our thinking exactly,” Hank agreed.
“We have some good news,” Hank said. “In assessing your three supervisors, Bob Tinker stood out as a very good fit for the position. The other supervisors and all the people in the group respect him. Frankly, we think he has been waiting for you to discover your mistake of keeping May in the position. It might be good for you to talk with him and see what you think,” Hank concluded.
“Hank, this is great news, thank you for your guidance,” Lisa said. “By the way I’m thinking of promoting our top sales person to Sales Manager. Looks like another great use of your assessments.“
Biography: Bert Holeton (CMC, CPVA, CPBA) is the Founder and CEO of The Mastermind Group, Inc. The purpose of The Mastermind Group, Inc. is to support leaders of organizations and businesses to achieve and sustain success. Since 1980 Mr. Holeton has consulted with over 80 companies in 14 industries ranging in size from startup to Fortune 100. He continues to consult all over North America and now resides in Leavenworth, www.the-mastermind-group.com