About Eric Denniston

Eric Denniston has proven experience with strategic business planning and financial management systems and processes. Working with non-profit and for-profit organizations, he has worked with leaders on corporate governance, leadership development, business planning, and strategic management challenges. He has also trained sales development and technical teams. His business planning activities include global businesses, resort, hotel and residential development and international healthcare projects. Eric has native fluency in Spanish and English and is also highly fluent in French. He has a masters in international management from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, AZ.

How Does Systems Thinking Improve Organizational Agility?

Systems Thinking offers simplicity, and therefore the possibility for agility both in the development and the implementation of strategies. Looking at an organization as a group of systems within a series of external systems is clearly a good start for creating agile strategies.

Further, applying a practiced evaluation of the organization by identifying INPUTS-THROUGHPUTS-OUTPUTS with a FEEDBACK LOOP, we can speed up the process of strategy development, and the creation of specific actions to implement the strategies.

Developing strategies and implementing them has been a focus of businesses for many decades and improving the processes is an ongoing conversation. In recent years, applying Agile concepts and techniques is getting more and more attention. It has even been questioned as to whether applying Agile techniques is even worthwhile. This has even been discussed on forums on startups with divergent conclusions on how effective this might be.

Using Agile techniques means that those strategies are more likely to be able to be adjusted quickly and effectively through their implementation. Systems Thinking brings a simple, reliable and repeatable rigor to strategy creation and implementation thereby offering a higher level of agility, admittedly a desirable attribute for reaching an organization’s desired outcomes more quickly and completely.

If Agility means getting things done faster, being more flexible in adjusting to changes, then Systems Thinking can help make these things occur. “Begin with the end in mind” as Stephen Covey said, is one key element both in Systems Thinking and in ensuring we are more easily able to keep focused on the long term while we adjust to the short term. This simple concept makes a huge difference to ensure we actually reach our objectives.

Fleshing out how Systems Thinking increases an organization’s strategic agility, we can consider the external environment, a natural factor in any system. The value of conducting a rigorous scan of the FUTURE environment of the organization lies largely in the relatively quick and easy identification of Opportunities and Threats. This effort results in intelligence that greatly enhances an organizations anticipation of what to capitalize on and what to prepare to overcome. Being more prepared certainly improves the organization’s Agility.

Agile Strategic Thinking Template

Using Systems Thinking, this template improves agile strategy creation and implementation

A tool we use for creating strategies is the framework “Agile Strategic Thinking Template” adapted from the Haines Centre for Strategic Management’s Systems Thinking Template  http://bit.ly/2aySbMD.

Managing the structures and processes created by the strategic initiatives is a challenge that grows in correlation to the size of the organization. Larger firms will naturally seek software to help with this and there are some out there.

Another tool we use for implementing and managing strategic initiatives is the Agile Strategy Manager SaaS at https://www.agilestrategymanager.com/strategy-framework.html .

Please share your thoughts and reasoning about why and how Systems Thinking improves the Agility of organizations in developing and executing strategic initiatives. Also, will you share with us any Systems Thinking tools you use that make organizations more Agile?

Applying lean agile techniques

The growing popularity in Lean Agile techniques compel us to reassess how we can use the various tools presented by these relatively recent additions to our “management toolboxes.”

In today’s world of nearly “instant” everything, we tend to drive decisions based on “gut feelings”, or simply in reaction to requests or directives. Too often we are forced to do this due to external forces we don’t control, regardless of the impact those decisions may have.

This approach can derail our intentions to reach longer-term strategic objectives.

Use lean agile techniques to drive sprint decisionsFor example, the Agile Strategy Execution Framework presented by ASM.com mentions two key processes that help drive more “agility” into achieving strategic success. Those are “Sprint Decisions” and “Group Retrospectives”.

Both of these processes utilize the collaboration of cross-functional groups in achieving their respective goals.

Systems Thinking supports lean agile techniques

It is valuable to note that ensuring the right type of “thinking” needs to be practiced throughout the framework model, and that means using “Systems Thinking”.  This “systemic”, or “holistic”, approach to applying this framework is part of the “secret sauce” to being effective and successful in reaching your strategic objectives.

If the term “Systems Thinking” sounds new to you, be assured it is not. Peter Drucker’s mentors in Vienna, Austria are considered to have shepherded Systems Thinking from the physical sciences into business management. Drucker then refined and articulated its applications. Many of the greatest organizations and businesses of today have been practicing Systems Thinking and teaching it for decades. For a brief overview, click here for an article about it.

Both the “Sprint Decisions” and “Group Retrospectives” outlined by ASM.com can benefit from the organization and facilitation techniques drawn from General Electric’s “Work Out” concepts. Whether teams are working on problems in design, process, operational, behavioral or cultural issues, their solutions will be more clearly articulated, more effectively measured and adjusted to with greater agility.

By working out issues in the collaborative, cross-functional teams, both deep dive activities and small bets can produce solutions that are better aligned with longer term objectives and create greater value for the customer and the business.

A lean agile techniques we use is what we call “Sprint Workouts.” These cross-functional team meetings are half to one or two full days in length. The meetings are focused on specific outcomes and support at least one strategic initiative whose results can be measured and communicated quickly and effectively. The stakeholders are clearly identified prior to the meeting and informed of the intent of the Sprint Workout. This produces buy-in and stay-in for quick solutions.

3 Tips: Making Strategic Planning Agile

Creating and managing change is in the pressure cooker! The 2001 introduction of the “Agile Manifesto” by a consortium of thought leaders of the software development industry has now spilled over into nearly, if not all, aspects of managing organizations of all types. This includes strategic planning.

First and foremost, let us accept that Strategic Planning is necessary and requires time, diligence and innovation. Nevertheless, there are tools you can use to make strategic planning agile, speeding up the planning process and achieving the same, and often better, results. Agile is one of those.

Here are three ways you can make Strategic Planning agile

  1. Run your planning retreat in a manner that includes breaking into teams that operate in SCRUMS. The teams, each led by a facilitator, follow the iterative process in a very compressed time frame of 15 to 45 minutes (see SCRUMS) to achieve relatively small, discreet goals. These group collaborations, when facilitated using some key Lean Six Sigma tools, will more rapidly create the results you need in assembling your Strategic Plan.
  2. Apply Systems, or Strategic, Thinking rigorously to maintain an “outcome-based”, or “future-oriented” focus on the planning and implementation of the strategic initiatives. This ensures you concentrate your thought processes and behaviors on evaluating the entire organization as a “living system,” and includes considering the overall environment the business operates in. This helps to make strategic planning agile.
  3. Create the structures, processes and culture that ensure everyone in the organization understands their role in making the business a success. This may include deploying a proven tool, like the Agile Strategy Manager, that aids you in tracking, managing and adjusting your desired goals as everyone does their job to reach them.

Agile Decision Making Framework makes Strategic Planning AgileUse a proven framework for planning. It helps drive the use of a common language for communicating, following, measuring and managing plans throughout the organization. Applying Systems Thinking also ensures the outcomes you identify are creating value for your customer. And don’t forget the importance of providing your people with the best tools available to track and report progress. This also helps to make your strategic planning agile.

Practicing “Agile” techniques, beginning with the Strategic Planning process, will permeate the Strategic Management process. Your organization’s various teams will implement the broader strategic initiatives and their respective tactical tasks. Keeping those tasks aligned with the organization’s strategic initiatives will help the teams adjust and innovate in a much more “Agile” manner.

Celebrating your and your people’s successes will be so much more impactful when everyone realizes that being AGILE and COMPREHENSIVE are not mutually exclusive endeavors.

Leading Cross Functional Collaboration

As organizations mature, the tendency to operate in silos and wage turf wars is a natural phenomenon. This usually results in weak, if not non-existent, cross functional collaboration on just about everything except really pressing matters. And then, it’s only to solve really serious problems in a reactionary fashion.

Truly healthy organizations have productive lines of communication and constantly engage in robust and productive discussions between departments and within departments.

Cross functional collaboration has its benefitsAn excellent way to foster productive communication is to engage employees in a collaborative process to help keep expenses in check. Have them spend half a day to two days in a structured session talking about how to manage expenses. This is best done in a group of not more than 24 people with one to three individuals from each department.

During the session, have them address problems or challenges that THEY see can be corrected or improved. An outside facilitator can greatly enhance the results. He or she can cut through the politics and create an environment that lets innovative ideas to bubble up. This is hard to do with an internal facilitator leading and coordinating the process.

During a public half-day event of this type that we led for individuals from different companies, one realtor found $60,000 in savings. Multiply those savings by the 20 or more realtors in her office and you begin to see the possibilities.

We have also seen two industry–leading firms, one an animal feed company, the other a construction firm, identify more than $1.5 million each in ongoing annual savings. These two sessions involved two full days with staff from various departments and senior executives of the organization. Both firms have more than 200 employees.

Obviously, some planning is required, as is an understanding on the part of the organization’s leadership about what is important in the process and why. It’s also important to identify up front what long term outcomes are possible from a cross functional collaboration exercise. Part of the process includes ensuring that accountabilities are established during the session – not afterward.

This example isn’t just a cost-cutting exercise. It’s a motivating process to get your workers thinking and acting creatively on a daily basis. And it’s a way to open up communication across and between departments. This benefits everyone and directly affects the bottom line in a positive way.

Regardless of the age of the organization, creating an environment for cross functional collaboration focused on problem-solving is your big benefit. This includes the topic of cost-cutting. Helping your employees learn how to actually communicate across departments is excellent preventive medicine.

Please contact me if you would like to learn more about how your business can benefit from this type of workshop.

The CFO Role – Cost Control or Value Added?

By Eric A. Denniston, Managing Director, Denner Group International

There are some interesting future trends to be tracking regarding the the CFO ROLE and the business domain he/she leads. Technology and in particular shared technology is one of the key drivers in how their role will be changing over the next ten years.

cross fuinctional teamsShared data and cross-functional training give employees and their teams more real-time access to data and the acumen to use the information, they can assess the financial impact themselves, instead of relying on finance to do it for them. The consulting group, Accenture, estimates that by 2020, “more than 80% of traditional finance services will be delivered by cross-functional teams.

Traditional communications and control centers are becoming more nimble and responsive. They are consolidating previously separate in-house financial reporting services such as compliance, treasury and investor relations. This is resulting in task-specific professionals being able to better focus on optimizing their areas of responsibility in support of their company’s strategies.

How is your business reacting to these changing trends? Is your CFO more involved in creating and driving strategy? Are new technological and cross-functional training tools being deployed to stay ahead of the competition? Have your systems become too complex, creating new “siloed” systems? Does your CFO understand how to deliver strategic initiatives through project and program management? Does your organization have the core competencies to transition from transaction-based activities to value-added tasks?

All of this implies a shift to finance teams being more involved in planning and analysis with more advanced digital platforms. A key outcome is reduced complexity, increased productivity and reduced costs.

The strategic impact of these trends significantly affect long-term growth and viability for all types of organizations. As you consider how you might address the challenges of these trends, one valuable solution is to evaluate your organization’s competencies to address these challenges and take steps to improve skill sets, create strong cross-functional capabilities and deploy the needed technological tools.

For further details on this topic you can click here to read an article in CFO magazine.

Digital tools modernize change management

Our line of work in creating strategic plans, coaching executives and managers through implementation, and change management in their organizations is constantly under pressure. there is an ever-present desire to find ways to simplify how it’s done, and shorten the time frame in achieving measurable results.

Business leaders resist the amount of work and time typically devoted to creating and updating strategic plans. The increasing pace of change in our business environment throws monkey wrenches into our well-laid plans. Yes, we are always seeking that silver bullet that will magically keep our plans on track, shorten the time frame to success, and basically keep everyone happy and productive.

Intuitively I know no such silver bullet exists, but in my own continual search for it, I occasionally come across a nugget, not a bullet, like this one that might actually help me and my clients.

An article from McKinsey by Boris Ewenstein, Wesley, Smith and Ashvin Sologar titled Changing Change Management, provides a compelling insight about one strategic element common to some recent successful change efforts.

Two clear challenges

The McKinsey article’s sub-title mentions two clearly visible issues or challenges for implementing change:
1) “Research tells us that most change efforts fail.”
2) “Yet change methodologies are stuck in a pre-digital era.”

The article’s main premise is that our traditional approach to change management is outdated and that using digital tools is the key to modernizing that approach. Aha! I say. While digital tools are not a new nugget for me, I did reap some new insights on the approaches to implementing those tools for more effective change management.

It has not occurred overnight but we have seen global companies that are now clear industry leaders disrupting their industries, experiencing astronomical growth and generally, success. Amazon, Uber and Facebook come to mind as examples of those who have employed digital tools to create their footprint in the world of business.

The McKinsey article mentions some of the digital tools many companies have employed and all have one thread in common. It is the result of closer, more rapid communication with their customers primarily and their other stakeholders as well. All brought about by the use of digital tools. That communication is now rich with data, tons of data, and not just junk data. Useful data that drives better, faster and more focused responses to fix problems and leverage successes.

Out with the old?

Does this mean we toss out our traditional methods and approaches for planning and executing change initiatives? I say no. We still need the training, practice, and discipline involved in the planning retreats, applying the best practices we can uncover for leading and managing people and for ensuring sustained continuous improvement in everything we do. Only now we must apply these digital tools to accomplish that faster, better and create more lasting change in our organizations.

I know I can’t tackle rewiring my home’s electrical system on my own without training in basic and advanced principles and practices. But, possibly, I can get that training faster with digital training tools. However, the practice is essential to prevent a disaster to myself or others, so a wise move would be to apprentice the work. Likewise, I know a business can’t avoid the work required to create long term plans and deliberately create the processes and systems to support the resulting change initiatives. They can only enhance the speed of achieving results and sustaining those results with the digital tools mentioned in the McKinsey article.

In our business, we are using more and more digitally-based communications with our clients, such as webinars, online courses, feedback resources, and more regular communication. We are still working on finding more effective touch points that are not intrusive. These all involve changes in practices and the culture of our business, just as it does for everyone else.

Volunteer Burn-Out is a Non-Profit Dilemma

Takeaways: 1) Age demographics and volunteer burn-out are dilemmas for member-based non-profit organizations, 2) Why clear and concise communication is paramount, 3) Why change must be embraced with a revolutionary approach.

Member-based non-profits inherently are subject to the dreaded disease of volunteer burn-out. As I scan the world for member-based non-profits and consider their membership age demographics, two things are crystal clear.

First, the most obvious one is a seriously older demographic, from the few members left of those who were adults in the mid 1900’s to the huge population of baby-boomers worldwide.

Second,  very few of those organizations are working really hard at recruiting and engaging new members of ages 25 to 45. Those that are, struggle to connect across the generational chasm that has generally tripped up humanity for centuries.This has deepened in the last 170 years with the rapid cultural changes brought on by technological advancements.

Balancing planning with action is a common struggle for non-profits, and if they are membership-based, perhaps even more so. This may be more evident among organizations that are 30 years or older, but it also affects those that are newer and have instituted some mature processes and structures.

I am looking at two very worthy member based non-profits. One is experiencing continued success but mild growth in membership. All of its programs are very well received by the communities it serves and its members are overwhelmingly deeply engaged. The other is experiencing membership decline, slow action among its leadership, a lot of activity in planning for the short and long term, and is struggling with its value proposition and member engagement. The first one is over one hundred years old, the other a respectable 15 years young.

A common thread I find in successful organizational development continues to be that of clear and concise communication. Communication of vision, values and goals in a timely and simple manner continue to be the key ingredients to successful member engagement. Why? Because it provides key support and direction to the leaders of the local groups to keep everyone moving toward the same overarching goals.

I see a number of aspects to what I call The Maturity Dilemma. One is that mature member-based organizations generally have a long-established way of doing things that worked for their generation of members. This creates a culture that is comfortable for that age group but likely misses the mark with other age groups. Another aspect is human nature’s normal resistance to change. Throughout our lives we have been taught to seek long-term conformity and stability, in spite of things changing around us all the time. We are not taught to thrive in change and therefore continue to hold this aversion to it. We have not developed the skill sets to thrive in change. So the organizations we lead tend to suffer from the same shortcoming.

Like all systems in the world, yet another aspect to this Maturity Dilemma is entropy. Our member-based non-profits are becoming so comfortable in our “way of doing things” that we simply never respond to the changes taking place OUTSIDE our organization.

I propose that like nearly all for-profit organizations, we must stay more in tune with our “markets” and our external environment. We must establish the processes and structures that will embrace change and help us thrive. We must, in a word, become “revolutionary” from within.

What does that really look like? To me it looks like making change happen fast, like in most revolutions. It looks like planning quickly, acting decisively and being prepared to adjust quickly to the changes we are creating. It looks like we must rapidly evaluate how to leverage the positive results of the changes we make and just as rapidly mitigate the negative results of those changes. It looks like we must not fear failure but instead react quickly to correct it.

I am not suggesting this is easy. In fact it is counter-intuitive to human nature and how we have been taught. We have to be, as author James B. Swartz so eloquently put it, “Seeing David in the Stone”, a reference to the courage displayed by those who pursued a vision without a manual to show them the way. We have many, many tools at our disposal to start us on our way. Planning strategically or tactically is key among them, but balancing that planning with rapid, decisive action is what will win the day. Forcing ourselves to maintain that balance will also drive us to communicate those plans in a timely and concise manner, thereby short-circuiting the entropy that creeps up on our organizations in uncanny mimicry of Alzheimer’s Disease.

If you would like to discuss this topic further, please contact me. My expertise in accelerated change management and deep knowledge of non-profit organizations may be helpful to you!

Systems thinking could yield different outcomes

Let’s talk about justifying the recent Baltimore looting and violence.  I pose the following example of not using Systems Thinking, and invite your remarks.

While listening to the news about the Baltimore looting, I caught a piece where an African-American man was interviewed about the looting. This situation was triggered by the suspicious death of a young man who appeared to have been injured while incarcerated.

The gentleman being interviewed was vocal about the looting “being perhaps not the best way to express frustration, but still justified”. He was referring to an Asian-owned store that was seriously vandalized during the recent rioting. The Asian-owned store was across the street from another establishment owned by African-Americans. That store, after having their glass front broken down, was defended by other African-Americans from further looting and vandalizing. The Asian-owned store was not similarly defended. Once the glass front was breached, the store suffered complete destruction of its contents. None of the neighborhood residents defended the store as they had the African American-owned store across the street.

The African-American interviewee shared a recent experience with the reporter. The Asian store owner turned him down when he requested one week’s credit to pay for a shirt he needed for a job he had just landed. He had made a case to the Asian store owner that he was a regular patron at the store, and that the store owner regularly saw him around the neighborhood because he lived there. But his request was refused. Because of that, the African-American man said he felt the vandalism the Asian store owner suffered was, and I paraphrase from memory, “somewhat justified”.

There are arguably moral arguments to discuss on both sides, particularly if we look at the situation strictly from an analytical standpoint as opposed to a systemic standpoint. Also, we don’t know any details of the neighbors’ relationships which could color this further.

systems Thinking might have produced different results

However, if we consider a Systems Thinking approach to this matter, there is one thing that stands out for me. If the Asian store owner had looked at the larger picture, he might have considered that his potential loss by granting his customer credit for a shirt might be less than $20.00. On the other hand, the goodwill and relationship-building that might have occurred could have actually produced a much different outcome for the Asian-owned store. And that is assuming the African-American gentleman reneged on his promise to pay later that same week. I expect he would have been true to his word, as he told the reporter.

Neighborhoods everywhere thrive or suffer on the relationships of their residents. People are naturally helpful and generous. We see this time and time again, in close-knit neighborhoods and in far flung relationships. An example is the global support for Nepal as it recovers from a devastating earthquake.

Simple understanding of the broader effects of relationships can help prevent most of the negative actions that too many people suffer from daily.

If the Asian store owner had taken a step back to consider all the angles and possible outcomes, he might have come to a different conclusion. Quite possibly, his store might have been equally defended by the neighborhood residents. Down the road, he might have also seen an increase in store sales because of the actions he took to “help” a frequent customer. And he might have solidified his relationships with neighborhood residents as a result, becoming more a part of the fabric of the neighborhood. But we’ll never know.

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts.

Trends for Managing Change in 2015

By Eric Denniston, Managing Director, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Review of ten trends for managing change in a practical context. Think more clearly about the impact of the trends. Consider if any external help can improve your performance. Refocus on the speed of change and the need for greater agility in adapting to changes.

While conducting a quarterly scan on trends for the next two to three years I came across a brief SlideShare presentation by Dennis McCafferty in CIO Insight, titled Ten Execution Trends for 2015, which you can view by clicking here. The overriding theme in the trends he mentions is that while planning is always extremely important, flexibility and agility in executing your plans is becoming much more important in order to overcome the challenges of doing business. This piece focuses on the IT issues of organizations but the trends mentioned affect managing all aspects of all organizations. These are the trends:

  • Real-time planning is mission-critical
  • Leading indicators take on greater prominence
  • Project management tackles enterprisewide tasks
  • Cultural difference foster collaboration
  • IT takes a seat at the “Influencers” table
  • Agility dominates
  • The “Organizational Surfer” rules the day
  • Everyone’s a designer
  • Value trumps all
  • Just do it

We see greater importance given to future trends over research on past trends. We see the increasing need for a holistic approach to how projects and initiatives are planned and executed. We are reminded of the value of embracing cultural differences in fostering collaboration. IT now wields greater influence overall on the organization. The increased speed of change in general is driving us to delegate the execution of projects more thereby increasing agility, and as a by-product, provide Millennials with a more attractive work environment.

We also see a return to the concept of “roving staff”, which I experienced in banking in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, now called “Organizational Surfers”. This was also common in large organizations with a group of employees who would “sub” for line staff, such as tellers, on vacation or sick leave, but are now found at all levels in the organization. There is also a notable increase in cross-functional collaboration and training in design thinking to extract great ideas from everyone possible in the firm regardless of whether those ideas pertain to their work or department.

Creating value for the customer is now job #1 over cost containment and problem solving. The final comment of the piece is titled “Just Do It!” It points out the danger in over-thinking things to the detriment of simply getting them done, thereby “staying ahead of change”.

Do your executives and team leaders have the skill sets to make the proper adjustments on the fly? Have you identified the leading indicators that will help you focus on future trends? Are your projects managed in a silo or are they directed with an enterprise-wide view? What initiatives are you implementing if there are multiple cultures in your business or you have an international presence?

At what level of your organization does your head of IT sit? For that matter, ask the same question about HR, Design, R&D, Safety and Security. Are your leaders capable of managing and even accelerating change with agility, and how are you including your younger staff members in the process? Are you creating a cadre of line staff, managers and executives that can support different functions either executing initiatives or performing training and coaching?

Is your organization capable of extracting creativity from folks other than those whose job is to design products and services? How are you gauging, measuring or tracking your leaders’ contribution to creating value for your customers and your stockholders?

Each of the 10 trends mentioned in the SlideShare piece broadly addresses issues that are clearly compelling to nearly every organization. Which one or ones compel you to make them a priority and how will you gather support in skill development and coaching to accelerate the effectiveness of implementing your initiatives?

I invite you contact me if you wish to explore how we might be able to assist you.

Cost-cutting creates leadership vacuum

By Eric Denniston, Change Architect, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Eliminating jobs as a way to reduce bottom line expenses often results in a leadership vacuum with high level managers being let go. Those left behind have reduced morale and often lack the necessary expertise of the leaders who are no longer there.

When a downturn in the economy occurs, such as what happened in 2007, many companies respond with a knee-jerk reaction by cutting jobs as well as budgets. While this may be necessary, too often what has happened is that executive management first looks at the highest paid employees and offers them an early retirement package. Then they move to the next level of salaried managers and eliminate them.

As a result, these firms face a lack of bench strength in terms of middle managers who know the business and can quickly help the company get back on its feet as the economy turns around. There may be a wide gap between the staff and the executive team that are left, creating a serious leadership void. Consequently, morale may plummet, with those who are left waiting for the other shoe to drop and wondering how safe their jobs are. This prevents them from focusing on their work which is crucial to helping the company progress.

What can be done to turn this around? One of the things is to focus on employee culture and look for ways to empower your staff to take an ownership view of their jobs. It can’t be mandated, but there are creative ways to reward your people for helping to find even more ways
to eliminate bureaucratic waste – without cutting jobs.

Cut Unnecessary Processes

Look at the processes in your business. Are they all necessary? Are you doing things because they’ve always been done that way, or are there opportunities to change or eliminate some processes altogether because they’ve become outdated or irrelevant? It’s time to take a hard look at where you might uncover some hidden costs and discover new-found savings.

For example, is it really necessary for every manager to have their own printer? What would be the cost savings if you networked a few printers instead? In addition to the cost savings in having fewer printers to support, the exercise each manager would get by walking from his/her office to the printer and back would be beneficial and give them a short respite from their work.

If you use color printers in your organization, did you know there’s a simple, inexpensive, retrofit product for HP printers that will force the printer to print in black and white instead of color and to print two-sided instead of single-sided? How much could you save in paper and ink on an annual basis by installing that device on all your color printers?

Those are just two of the creative ideas participants have gotten from attending a two-day workshop we lead. Some participants found as much as $2.5 million in cost savings annually!

Impressive results!

While it may be possible to organize this process internally, it’s often beneficial to bring in an outside, independent facilitator/consultant who can coach and guide the process. The results are most impressive when a cross-section of your staff (between 25 and 30 at a time), from senior executives to the lowest level person, participate in a two-day, offsite retreat.

During the two days, each person works individually and in cross functional teams of two or three to look critically at the work they do every day and write down non-essential tasks they perform that could be done differently or could be eliminated or transferred to another department where it makes more sense.

The consultants establish a safe environment that encourages creative thinking and rewards cost savings suggestions. Executive management is required to immediately approve, decline or request more information on each suggestion participants make. Every client that has done this has averaged $40,000 per person in immediate cost savings, without eliminating jobs or adding any new investments in equipment, software, etc.

Total annual cost savings are averaging more than $1 million per company and sometimes much more. Plus, morale has improved. People feel valued. Their contributions are being heard and rewarded, and the long term benefit is a shift in culture from one of entitlement or fear to one of ownership and accountability.

Now may be the right time to try something radically different. What have you got to lose?
Contact us for a free estimate.