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A Sharing in Growth story

Richard Spears


PP Champions & Advocates

Campaign series


Over 18 months ago, PP Control & Automation became the latest manufacturer to be selected for the Sharing in Growth (SiG) transformation programme. This new collaboration would act as a catalyst for further improvement, something CEO Tony Hague and the business was actively seeking.

“Our business wasn’t new to continuous improvement or people and process development. We founded our own in-house training school 20 years ago, we’ve adopted Lean and Six Sigma, created structured training road maps, and we’ve done a lot of work around employee engagement over the years. But we felt we needed a catalyst of further improvement.”

Tony recognises that there’s no point ever thinking you’ve reached your optimum performance; the moment you do that then complacency sets in, things stagnate, and you ultimately find yourselves dropping behind emerging competition.

Continuous improvement is therefore a storybook that never closes. And so, this Sharing in Growth story, is really just a chapter. But a significant one. And one that includes an ‘inspire’ award… (More on that later).

Forward

Celebrating 10 years in business this month, Sharing in Growth was initially set-up to provide intensive transformation support to accelerate business growth in the aerospace sector.

Today, its team members are deployed into client organisations to provide training, coaching, and mentoring to address specific ambitions and diagnose challenges for manufacturers, including strategy development, operational excellence, productivity, culture, and new product introduction.

One of SiG’s first involvements was to complete a gap analysis, identifying immediate and longer-term goals, as well as implementing a ‘survive and thrive’ approach to emerge from the economic shackles of Brexit, Covid, and the rolling disruptions of universal challenges.

Three core pillars of improvement were erected off the back of this analysis: leadership, processes, and people.

Leadership

The company had several existing strategy and planning tools, used for a number of years. And although they had been deemed effective, there was recognition that the way in which the messages and actions cascaded down through the business could be improved.

Therefore, the X-Matrix tool, introduced by SiG and developed in collaboration would be the improved line of sight the business was looking for. The board of directors worked closely with the team at SiG to duly develop.

Chief Operating Officer Sean Cayley, was an advocate from the start:

A Sharing in Growth story » IMG 0013 colour edit » PP Control & Automation

“The X-Matrix is a simple but effective way of visualising our strategy, linking shorter term, annual and long-term goals together, with timed objectives and measurable KPI’s.”

Level 0 and Level 1 plans then distil the strategy, at both a company and departmental level, with objectives and measurables distilled further into specific actions to be undertaken across all priority business activities, and throughout departments. The plans are visually clear and easy to follow with all activities linking back to top level KPI’s.

Level 0 plans take the next 12-months into account and detail the business strategy for the year and overall targets and actions. Level 1 gets more granular, focusing on short-term deliverables per department with timelines for key topics and actions for improvement.

The X-Matrix visualises strategy for 90 days, all the way up to 4 years, and then Level 0 and 1 plans allow leadership to cascade those high level strategic decisions down through management and to every level of the business.

Sean drives home the benefit:

“We’ve managed to develop a clear focus on all business activities that link back to top level KPI’s, where every level of the business can prioritise their actions and track progress. It’s a game-changing approach to communicating strategy internally, and it’s done with absolute clarity.”

Processes

Two of the best things about collaboration with SiG is that a lot of the learning is delivered on site, and there is access to specialists with experience in several different areas. PP C&A could therefore handpick the support required to help deliver against its identified improvements.

This was particularly important when improvements in processes were being considered, as it would take more than communicating the theory to the facility floor and departments for projects to be fully embraced – the experts at SiG would need to roll up their sleeves.

And that’s exactly what they did. SiG worked directly with department leaders and production cells. They introduced the ‘lighthouse’ concept, SQCDP boards and daily cross-functional meetings. Before work on these initiatives started, the analysis determined that the organisational structure could be a potential barrier to implementing new initiatives effectively, so that would be addressed first.

A Sharing in Growth story » IMG 0912 edited » PP Control & Automation

Lee Aston, Business Unit Operations Manager summarises the problem the business was facing with its organisational structure:

“It boiled down to speed of communication. The structure of the organisation had several layers and department silos. By simplifying this and the line of reporting, communication can be more direct, decisions can be made faster, and problems resolved quicker.”

Adjusting the structure delivered a better foundation for introducing initiatives like SQCDP.

SQCDP (Safety, Quality, Cost, Delivery, People) boards have been introduced as a daily management system for the business, with each category visualised with objectives – Be it maintaining and improving site safety standards and workspace effectiveness, or maximising opportunities through delivery performance, key business objectives are now tracked and consistently acted upon.

20-minute stand up meetings with production cells and department leaders now happen every morning and illustrate whether teams are on target or off target, outputting priority actions for the day ahead. Meetings are also cross-functional, bringing departments together to increase collaboration where necessary.

These measures have helped achieve an 18% increase in employee engagement, issue resolution has improved from 5 to 2 days average, arrears reduced by 95% and there’s been a 53% increase in value added per person (VAPP). ‘People to problem’ rather than ‘problem to people’ is a shift in method that speeds up solutions and is positively affecting how engaged every team is in end results.

Finally, the ‘lighthouse’ concept is about turning a specific area of focus into a beacon of hope for all others. For example, rather than trying to improve across every production cell at any one time, the lighthouse technique introduces improvement initiatives in just one area and aims to deliver optimum performance. A successful lighthouse project can lay the foundations for similar improvements in other departments and give them every confidence that it will also be successful.

As processes improve, people become more engaged, something Lee has noticed more and more on the shop floor:

“Newly introduced processes have also improved visual management, and this has had a big impact on people’s understanding and awareness, but I think it also increases their engagement. People are definitely benefiting from getting a clearer sight of how they impact the success of the business.”

People

Improved processes, particularly across different production cells and operational departments has had a positive effect on people performance and engagement, but the collaboration with SiG has also directly impacted how people benefit from training, development, and continuous improvement.

Scott Ward, Continuous Improvement and Training Coordinator refers to several key factors that were addressed during analysis of the department with SiG:

“It’s safe to say that some training requirements were ad-hoc and not always directly linked to business needs, and the training process itself lacked appropriate governance. Measures to closer track training effectiveness and relevance, and whether it addressed key issues such as skills shortages would be hugely productive areas to focus on.

“An analysis on continuous improvement was a similar story to that of training, in that not everything was directly linked to the foremost business needs. Projects could sometimes focus on ‘flavour of the month’ and distract from the bigger picture. That could also sometimes mean that projects lost momentum and engagement in them would dip.”

Scott has fully embraced the guidance received from SiG and has taken ownership of some impressive new ideas that have had an almost immediate impact on people’s progression in the business.

“Versatility matrices and skills nesting structures have been developed to better define roles and responsibilities and are linked to pay banding, giving employees a clearer understanding of progression within departments, plus the skills and the training needed to fulfil certain roles.”

Standard training packs with a review and sign-off process have also been introduced with monthly schedules across operations for planned training hours. And personal development reviews and employee engagement surveys are better structured and more consistent, resulting in rates of engagement increases in both areas.

Scott’s direct collaboration with department leaders has also evolved with the introduction of ‘go look sees’ and daily reviews.

Daily reviews are driven by the objectives found on the SQCDP boards, measuring against specific actions and offering insight into required areas of training and development. This brings continuous improvement and training departments closer to operations. ‘Go look sees’ are weekly visits to cells and departments running improvement initiatives to see progress and results in action.

“Results on spreadsheets are great, but you gain a unique perspective from going to the source and seeing it with your own eyes.”

Scott continued:

“But speaking of spreadsheets, we’re now making more of the data we collect and we’re undertaking projects that are purposely more data-driven, so that we can see how business unit measures for quality, cost and delivery are truly performing.”

A Sharing in Growth story » IMG 0408 » PP Control & Automation

Sharing and rewarding success is something the business has always prided itself on, but since the implementation of SQCDP, daily reviews and ‘go look sees’, the opportunity to reward team and individual successes has increased. The ‘Safer Together’ initiative was introduced off the back of collaboration with SiG and is also a source for more regular instances of recognition and reward.

“Safer Together encourages all departments within the business to take safety seriously and introduces a more engaging way to stay consistently safe in the workplace,” explains Scott.

A ratings system has been introduced with pass rate percentages for safety measures in each department. Departments are rated for safety on a 12-week cycle with gold, silver and bronze medals awarded based on their performance.

Rewards, from vouchers to factory delivered pizzas are presented to the departments that show the most improvement in that 12-week cycle, those that sustained the best performance and those that registered the most engagement.

Healthy competition has proven a great way to engage people in areas of the business that can often get less attention than they deserve.

Speaking of competition…

An inspiring story awarded

A Sharing in Growth story » 1668621758340 » PP Control & Automation

Throughout the day on Wednesday last week (15.11.22), PP C&A’s Sean Cayley, Lee Aston, Scott Ward, and Chief Information Officer, Ian Knight presented the business’ SiG story and journey so far to other engaged organisations and SiG delegates.

Ian explains how the team delivered its presentation and case to attendees:

“It was a presentation that involved every walk of working life at PP C&A, hearing from directors, managers, and recorded insights from people on the factory floor, living the initiatives and improvements implemented with SiG’s support.

“We really pushed the envelope on presenting our journey, detailing our core pillars of improvement, and sharing the real-world results. We were trying to inspire those around us to leverage their connection with SiG and embrace opportunities to grow.

“And there was an ‘inspire’ category award later that evening up for grabs. That would be the icing on the cake and the perfect way to collectively celebrate our achievements.”

A Sharing in Growth story » IMG 0934 edit 2 » PP Control & Automation

The day, promoted as SiG’s All STAR (Sharing Together Achieves Results) networking event and awards dinner was also a celebration of their 10 years in business.

Guest speakers delivered engaging talks during the evening, and SiG’s 10-year timeline of milestones furnished the entrance for all to digest. It was an exciting event that not only educated and provided opportunity to share and network, but also pitted businesses against one another to claim awards under three categories – all in the spirit of friendly competition.

Ian relives the moments leading up to the announcement for the ‘inspire’ category award.

“We went into the evening confident that we had done everything we could to present a compelling case and illustrate how far we’ve come in a relatively short space of time with SiG, but the competition was strong, and every business had great results to prove the effectiveness of their initiatives.

“We used social media throughout the day so that our followers could live the experience with us and it was a great moment to share that we were indeed recognised as inspirational and winners of the category award.”

The award was the icing on the cake the team were hoping for, but the cake also had a cherry on top.

“We were thrilled to receive the award, but our celebrations didn’t end there, as Paul Binns, the SiG coach that has given our business so much time and support over the course of two years was also recognised for his achievements,” explained Ian.

Whilst it feels like a fitting end to the story, and as suggested at the very start, this is but a chapter in a long and ongoing story of further improvement. The business pledges to never stand still, and on that note, Ian talks about continuing the partnership with SiG:

“We’ve already mapped out the next phase of our journey and are excited to be engaging with SiG on ensuring its success.”

Several key deliverables have already been identified and include an ELLB initiative to support policy deployment through the management team, expanding the team leader academy and also taking what’s been discovered during the lighthouse experiment to form a blueprint for other areas of the business. SIOPS planning (a cross functional review of sales and operations) is also taking place, and the business will use the cross functional foundation work already in operation to roll out a gated New Product Introduction.

It goes without saying, the sharing approach to growth is one PP C&A has benefited from tremendously, and long may that continue in partnership with SiG.

Learn more about Sharing in Growth

SiG is an organisation of business transformation experts in the complex world of advanced manufacturing. With over 2,000 years’ combined industrial experience, the SiG team applies global best practice, enabling UK companies to create sustainable growth.

A Sharing in Growth story » SiG logo with text » PP Control & Automation

A campaign celebrating our champions

As part of an ongoing campaign that celebrates every walk of working life at PP Control & Automation, you’ll find out what makes us, well, us!

From outsourcing champions, exemplary engineers, culture promoters and rising stars, you’ll get access to thought leadership content, individual profiles and video interviews for key leaders, engineers, and apprentices, plus blogs and Q&As, all showcasing the honest and open opinions from inside the organisation.

Come back to the blog in 2023 as we continue the campaign celebrating people, processes and partnerships. Follow PP Control & Automation on LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube, or by searching #PPCAchampions. For more direct access, subscribe and receive stories from the campaign in your inbox.

A Sharing in Growth story » PP People campaign outsourcing champions 02 » PP Control & Automation
A Sharing in Growth story » PP People campaign exemplary engineers 02 » PP Control & Automation
A Sharing in Growth story » PP People campaign culture promoters 02 » PP Control & Automation
A Sharing in Growth story » PP People campaign rising stars 02 » PP Control & Automation
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