In the aftermath of a failed CRM project, the business I worked in implemented a number of processes designed by the project team. The consultant designed processes were a little bloated.
For instance, the process to create a customer strategy required a week’s worth of prep and three days of facilitated workshops with five facilitators. This did not suit the organisation culture of full-on engagement and activity. So I set about removing the fat from the process.
The first thing I did was to work with the marketing department to understand what research they already conducted. 80% of the process input was already produced. Of the rest most needed a slightly different focus and there were one or two items we need to add. Instead of a week of research, our marketing team member needed a couple of days to refresh his existing pack and add in the new content. We sent the pack out one week before the facilitation and sent daily reminders to the customer facing team asking them to comment, add information or ask questions.
The workshop saw most of the cost savings. I started by slashing the number of facilitators by giving the power of the pen to the team. For each part of the workshop, I merely set the task, lit the blue touch-paper and provided moral support.
Next, I made every minute of the workshop pay for its self. I removed open discussions and gave everything a focus. Removing open discussion is risky, but I was working with teams that sat together, travelled together and talked on this subject every day. I designed each session to produce at least one part of the strategy. During the day we progressed from our understanding of the customer and their strategy to key milestones and a plan of action for the near term.
I also introduced different types of workshop activities. The consultancy way of doing things was to have the team sitting and the facilitators capturing information. I found that this bored the team, led the witness and stifled creativity. I used some post-it sessions, a lot of flip charts, split the team into groups, held knowledge cafes, shuffled the groups, asked them to think about stuff during coffee breaks and lunch and got the team to review and wrap up. In total there were five sessions during the day.
At the end of each workshop and afterwards, I asked for feedback about the day. I also typed up the workshop output and put it into PowerPoint. Using email, plenty of chats and the odd meeting, we reviewed for a week, correcting errors, challenging decisions and filling holes. The team then presented to a senior governance meeting where they sought agreement to pursue their strategy. We published the strategies to the wider team using an Intranet site.
I conducted five workshops, four for key customers and one by request. I documented the process, including a facilitation guide and handed over to a process owner.
Focus on business outcomes – cost reduction, alignment with existing processes, integration with governance, business ownership of the outcome
Workshop facilitation – active facilitation, lots of opportunities for quieter team members to contribute during the sessions and offline, material provided for feedback and questions
Process management – process documentation, process development, process quality management
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