Strategic Human Capital Insights

Business Acumen: Take A Business Trip to the Factory Floor

This is the second blog in in our Business Acumen blog series. In case you missed the other blog, you can 
view it here.

Business Acumen can create business synergy that can and does
drive efficiency and profits through the roof.

Warehouse worker with box and manager controlling productsHow many employees are encouraged and/or motivated to take the time, or are guided by their manager, to learn the business beyond their own function?  With everyone so busy doing their ‘day jobs’, that mentality is more often the exception rather than the rule. 

The Walk

One employee I know did exactly that. This employee, Chris, worked in Information Technology and saw there was a recurring problem between workflow from their group and a group they supported that was at another factory location in the same city who dealt with parts maintenance. This recurring problem had been going on for months causing workflow issues at the factory. No one in Information Technology had been in communication with or to the factory site to determine what the issues were. Finally, Chris, a new employee, took time from his schedule and went to the factory for a day to meet with all the people in the factory who were impacted by the recurring problem:

  • the receiving person
  • the people that clean the parts
  • the people that keep the parts moving through the process
  • the people that need reports on how the factory process is progressing daily to communicate parts status with the customers (these parts are integral to keeping the customers’ businesses functioning)
  • last, but not least, the shipping people

This site visit day revealed all the problems and Chris now had a clear understanding of both the problem and the multiple impacts caused by the ignored problem. (Formerly, there had been no problem identification or problem solving communication initiated by Information Technology. The factory workers had to be satisfied dealing with clunky workarounds that were counter productive.) This problem affected:

  • the business
  • the factories workers’ personal lives
  • which in turn affected the factory workers’ morale and productivity

I’m sure many of you reading this will think, “So what’s the big deal”? It’s all about the business, so it is a very big deal!  Here’s the outcome. The results were amazing and below are two key findings: 

  • The factory reclaimed over 5700 hours of lost productivity annually.  Think about the cost, time and manpower impacted by these 5700 hours.
  •  All the factory workers were no longer simultaneously kicked out of the software several times a day resulting in them having to reenter all their steps several times a day. 

Lesson Learned

The workplace is made up of interconnected functions that rely on each other to get the job done. As we become more specialized in our expertise, the dreaded silo affect can silently become the norm and create a dysfunctional operating culture. Remember, silos don’t touch each other! 

By taking time to learn about and understand the business of the groups they support, the Information Technology group began to move out of their technical silo and built functional bridges with another business area. The resulting synergy contributed to better business outcomes to the factory workers. They are ultimately responsible to the customers who keep the organization in business.

When interdepartmental business problems exist, be concerned enough to do something about them.   Information Technology and all support groups are not an end unto themselves, but are a means to a better business end. That better end is the customer and, ultimately, the viability and profitability of the company. So learn about the business of the business both laterally and upward within the organization. Step out of the silos and let the business synergy begin.

This is just one small effort by one employee in an organization. Imagine the business impact if everyone in an organization had the same attitude. The multiplier effect can be extraordinary.

Leadership, it’s time to encourage continual business learning across the organization. Learning and business understanding creates business synergy. A continuous learning culture can achieve great business outcomes.  It’s your choice!

We invite you to learn more about how people, potential and performance all translate into profits for your company.  In addition to profits for your company, see how you can engage your employees and ultimately have more satisfied clients. Schedule a complimentary organizational benchmark assessment with our team to learn how you can further motivate your people to their full potential to drive enhanced performance results to bring your company to the next level.

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Topics: Human Asset Management

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

In 2014, Joanne Flynn founded Phoenix Strategic Performance, a strategic human capital advisory firm. Prior to this, Joanne was Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 10 years responsible for global learning and development. She then led the consulting practice of Phoenix Group International, a consulting firm specializing in global financial service. Joanne is now taking best practices from the people-intensive financial services industry and adapting those best practices to startup and growth businesses. She is a thought leader in the areas of strategic organizational alignment, organizational agility, human capital gap analysis, leadership challenges for the new workplace and transformation leadership.

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