Blommer Chocolate in Campbellford, Ontario recently hosted a very special Best Practice Event designed to encourage discussion on a subject that affects every aspect of our businesses – “Planning” but more specifically what it takes to keep our creative juices flowing if you will! With that in mind, Doug Harper, General Manager of Blommer Chocolate set the stage for a very interesting workshop aptly entitled “Getting Unstuck - How to Get Traction with Your Planning Processes”.
Members and Guests were welcomed to this special Workshop by EMC Canada Team Members Bren McKeachnie and Gay Henniger and our Host, Blommer Chocolate.
During the introduction of Blommer Chocolate and Doug Harper, General Manager, Gay addressed those present with respect to the prestigious "Lean Leadership and Cultural Excellence" Award that was awarded to Blommer Chocolate Company of Canada at the EMC Advantage Through Excellence Conference in Hamilton earlier this year, demonstrating the commitment this company has for their people, their community, and their peers to succeed:
"Blommer Chocolate has a deep and public history with EMC. Its roots began with its previous owner - Worlds Finest Chocolate (WFC) in the small town of Campbellford, Ontario. When the first Eastern Ontario EMC Consortium was born about eight years ago, Doug Harper, the Manufacturing Manager of WFC drove the two and a half hour trip every month to Brockville so as not to miss the Senior Manager's Networking Event. Since then Doug and his team's commitment to EMC has been evident in numerous ways. The long, slow and ultimately successful culture change and lean process that Doug's team slogged through with help from Jim Morris and Chad Metcalfe, EMC's lean trainers was shared publically at many EMC SIG events, to help others struggling with this challenge. Doug wrote EMC Update Newsletter articles, his team hosted SIGs in Campbellford and attended Conferences and speaking engagements across Ontario and in the Maritimes. When WFC, Campbellford was sold to Blommer Chocolate, it wasn't so much the building that attracted Blommer; it was the dedicated and engaged workforce. Doug mirrors Jim Collins's "Good to Great" Level 5 Leader - a balance of personal humility and professional will. Doug has honed this leadership mentality with his team. Though Doug is no longer able to make it to all of the SIGs, someone from his team is always present to share Blommer experiences and learn! Congratulations to the Blommer Chocolate Canada team on receiving this very deserving award."
Doug began the Workshop with an overview of the company and provided his thoughts on how important "thinking" is behind the whole planning process. He mentioned that the "doing part" of any stage is the easy part - the "thinking stage" however is much more difficult and up front and this is the area that we all need to focus more on. Keeping that in mind, our participants were asked to bring an issue or challenge that they were currently dealing with and in team format throughout the workshop, Members worked together to focus on possible solutions - putting that "thinking" to work!
We discussed the need to have a good plan in place with a destination in mind. Doug also spoke on the importance of driving accountability and making sure that we measure the right things so that we have both an opportunity for feedback and for improvement. Our group also discussed the importance of communication and engagement. We need to connect people so that they understand why they need to engage in achieving a particular goal - they need to see the value in it - and seeing the value ultimately lends to ownership, involvement, enthusiasm and feedback… People become engaged because they understand what is going on.
Doug reminded us that there are a multitude of different ways to generate ideas - brainstorming, multi-voting, sampling, 5-why's, fishbone, cause and effect, pareto charts, etc. and that there is true value in "thinking", in "blue-sky approaches" and in good planning. He noted that "thinking" takes time and that 75% of an improvement effort is actually in the planning process - only 25% is actually "doing" the task at hand.
Doug left us with the message that one should never be afraid to ask questions and challenge the status quo… and a great quote from Winnie the Pooh - "Did you ever stop to think and forget to start again?"
Gay Henniger, our Field Service Advisor from Eastern Ontario, has also provided an overview of the Workshop, which follows below, and we encourage you as well to take a moment to peruse the wonderful Blogs that Doug Harper has written on our EMC Canada website!
"Getting Unstuck - How to Get Traction with Your Planning Process"
Gay Henniger, Field Service Advisor, Eastern Ontario
Doug began his workshop by talking to us about the fact that planning "done right" will help to make our lives easier in the long run! Time is valuable so consider it a finite, dwindling resource that needs to be conserved!
Doug led us through a number of exercises and discussion of ideas to challenge each other's thinking about the planning processes we are currently using. How can we improve those processes to produce more effective outcomes and save time and effort? The following points were discussed by the group.
- 75% of improvements efforts should be devoted to planning (75% Planning; 25% Doing)
- Ensure that your environment and cultures are ready and understand the processes.
- We don't do enough thinking - we are "doers" - "innate desire to fix things"
- In the PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT Model - most of the time spent should be spent up front in the PLAN stage.
- Need to understand before you solve.
- Cannot fix symptoms - need to determine root cause.
- Filter outputs not inputs (quality over quantity)
- Beneficial to use "outside" eyes - that area not close to the process
- Engage people to build accountability - leads to shared expectations.
- Use metrics
- Plans must have a clarity of purpose
- Gap Analysis - Imperative - need to start with a vision of where you are currently and what you want to be in future.
- Discussion of "what does a plant floor with engaged people look like?"
- What does it take to get there - brainstormed (flat hierarchy, lack of ego, low control, ownership, obvious goals, organized, trust, consistency)
- How do you close the gap of any one challenge? (Exercise to determine tools)
- Blommer uses the Dennison Culture Survey
- Remember that training is a tool not a problem solver.
- Read Doug's most recent Blog - "Thinking about Thinking" - http://www.emccanada.org/blogs/emcmemberb
- Review of SMART GOALS - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely
Members had a great time learning how to generate ideas as a group by going to through an exercise to come up with strategies that could be put in place to ensure that that Maple Leafs Hockey team wins the Stanley Cup in 2013! I have to confess that a few of the ideas were not printable!
Doug emphasized the need for determining and using metrics faithfully. He noted that metrics should measure the progress towards your goal - not the activity itself. At mid-project, metrics should be used to check for adjustment. "Will power" is needed to stay the course.
Doug discussed "Carbiners" - linkages. An idea is no good unless it is linked (to goals, communication plans, people, etc.). Everyone needs to understand how their role fits in with the plan. Set the bar & set it high and always be truthful.
There were many questions from the group regarding effective communication techniques, how do we rewarding thinking, and culture change techniques.
Thank you so much to Doug Harper and the Blommer team for hosting this fun and thought provoking event!
Let the thinking begin!
Have a great day everyone!
Bren and Gay