By Lui Damasceno, Chief Executive Officer, Brooks International
May 1, 2016

I. Introduction

Since our inception in 1960, Brooks International has been delivering sustainable value to our CEO clients through the design, acceleration and execution of their strategic imperatives, by creating a culture of continuous operational excellence and by achieving the required financial objectives and improved shareholder value. Brooks International client companies span the globe in a wide range of industries and pursue value creation through sustainable operating efficiency.

II. Defining the Baseline

Our clients not only require the achievement of their strategic imperatives, they demand substantial and ongoing financial benefits (with, at the very least, no decrease in customer service and satisfaction). Experience tells us that, before precise commitments with respect to financial objectives and the transformation plan can be made confidently, an assessment of current business models and their effectiveness should be made. This assessment should be thorough and swift. It should use a sampling approach, but it should also include real-world analyses – not just top-down statistical comparisons.

Brooks International is well equipped to design, manage and conduct this type of Opportunity Assessment for our clients. We strongly prefer that the Assessment team be a partnership between the client’s staff and Brooks International.

The Opportunity Assessment takes place at the outset of the engagement, and success depends largely on the quality of the game plan that is created. A top-notch game plan also can do wonders to right-size expectations and keep skeptics at bay.

Based upon preliminary insight, the Opportunity Assessment should meet the following objectives:

Define how the current business models operate:

Together we would select a representative sample of existing operations. Our goal is to select the fewest number of locations which would provide us with a credible set of analyses. Among the “frameworks” that we use for Assessments is one that we call the ECM model.

ECM stands for Expectations, Capabilities and Motivators. When applied using a proven set of diagnostics, ECM is extremely valuable in helping business leaders understand the drivers of organizational behavior and performance. An integrated set of assessment tools are applied to verify and quantify:

  • Organizational Expectations: In essence, what do members of the existing organization think is expected of them in terms of customer service, productivity, cost and priorities? Do they believe that performing well in these areas is the key to increased reward and recognition? Do they know how well they’re doing? Are the expectations aligned across and throughout the organization? If met, will customers and stakeholders be satisfied? Will the organization be competitive?
  • Essential Capabilities: It’s one thing to know what’s expected; it’s often another to have all the tools to succeed. The Assessment will determine: How effective are existing business processes and best practices? Does the organization use technology effectively? Does the organization’s design make sense in terms of customer and cost objectives? How effectively is the organization “managed” to meet current expectations and practice vigorous continuous improvement? How effective is the existing approach to continuous improvement (6 Sigma or otherwise)? Are the existing capabilities “sufficient” to meet current and foreseeable expectations? Where are the greatest opportunities to increase value?
  • Performance-Based Motivators (Rewards): Under natural circumstances, individuals and organizations will tend to “behave” in order to maximize individual rewards and recognition. In order to ensure the business model encourages effective behaviors, it must provide strong linkage between expectations and motivators. The assessment will determine: Is the existing Motivator (Reward & Recognition) System tied closely and meaningfully to stated performance expectations? Do individual contributors have “line of sight” from the work they do to the results they are expected to achieve, and, in turn, to the rewards they can earn? Do available rewards serve to “incent/motivate” individuals to perform in accordance with expectations and to the best of their capabilities?

Determine the Value Potential:

Brooks International is exceptionally well-equipped to help determine value potential or how much improvement in service, productivity, capacity utilization, cost and shareholder value can be achieved by changing what, and how soon.

Beginning at the operating level, we define critical performance criteria, such as historic productivity, service and unit cost. We identify trends and best demonstrated levels of performance. If appropriate, we help with benchmarking studies using best-in-class competitors. We have the tools to accurately set short- and mid-term improvement targets and to demonstrate how existing ECM “barriers” relate to the gaps between these targets and current or momentum performance. We can help convince skeptics of the reasonableness of these targets and help our client position itself for success.

Assess Existing Cultures & Change Readiness:

At this point, it is unwise to speculate about the degree of cultural change that will be needed for the client to succeed. In our experience, it’s nearly a certainty that some appreciable level of “cultural adaptation” will be desired, if not necessary. Even if the majority of future operations already exist within the client organization, there will still be a need to assimilate operations and standards and the expectations of executives and customers. Moreover, this transformation provides the client with an opportunity to advance beyond current business models and culture in areas such as 6 Sigma, Decision Quality, Performance-Based Rewards and Opportunity Sharing.

Here again, Brooks International can add value. We have the diagnostics to measure cultural climate and change readiness. In a later section, we will touch on approaches to shifting culture in desired directions and overcoming resistance (see Managing Change).

Summary of Part II:

Our experience suggests that some level of “baselining” is important to most large-scale business transformations. Credible baselines help ensure that change requirements are defined fully and from an integrated perspective (the business model as a whole). They also serve to validate existing performance levels and value potential.

If such assessments are conducted using teams, which integrate outside resources (know how, methodology and objectivity) and key stakeholders (they own it), the assessment process can help build commitment and a groundswell for rapid action. If appropriate, Brooks International can help with all (or selected) aspects of this requirement. We are especially well suited to ensure that the “front line” point of view is represented in the assessment process and conclusions.

III. Designing New Business Models

We help our clients design new business models and comprehensive changes to existing ones (where assessment findings dictate opportunity). Our Implementation process is designed specifically for this purpose.

The Implementation is designed to apply the Brooks International principles of Decision Quality to the task of creating the optimal business model.

By optimal business model, we mean one by which:

  • Customer and stakeholder expectations for service functionality and quality, cost and value creation are clearly understood and agreed to by all principals. These expectations are clearly documented through mission statements, service level agreements or other “contracts;”
  • Expectations have been translated level-by-level, individual team by individual team, throughout the organization. The translation process was participative and barrier-removal-based (i.e., the amount of improvement possible if major barriers are removed). The new expectations are clearly understood, agreed upon by the majority, measured daily and weekly, and fully aligned.
  • All necessary capabilities are designed to:
    1. Exceed performance expectations
    2. Utilize the latest technology
  • Specific attention is devoted to:
    • Core Business Process Design
    • Best Practices
    • Information Technology
    • Competency Development – Job descriptions, expert models, evaluation and development planning, best-practices-based training, measurement, supervisory roles and responsibilities, selection processes reflect expert models, management systems, tools and behaviors (especially regarding front-line staff and continuous improvement)
  • Motivators (Rewards & Recognition) are heavily performance-based. Preferences of organizational members are well understood and continually refreshed. Line of sight from results to rewards exists. Impact of performance on rewards is timely.
  • Continuous improvement is a way of life. Six Sigma (as former GE CEO Jack Welch and others can testify) can be a powerful platform for continuing to drive service up and costs down.
  • Cultural preferences are well thought out and reflect the business model mission and the client’s strategic imperative. Organizational culture is a critical factor in longer-term success. In most cases, organizational culture evolves and meanders in response to leadership biases and directives. In fewer cases, it’s the result of a carefully planned process, which is reinforced by leadership and rewards.
  • Culture, which we tend to define as the “sum” of values, attitudes and behaviors, cannot be shaped or reshaped directly. The only successful approach to cultural change is a behavioral one. By defining expectations carefully, providing and improving the tools needed to meet these expectations and aggressively rewarding results, organizations can create an optimal “behavioral” environment (win-win for customers, stakeholders and individual contributors). With dedication, organizations can sustain these desired behaviors from which, over time, the desired attitudes and values will emerge.
    One of the primary objectives of our Implementation process is to help clients choose the optimal culture and then design a plan to systematically create it.

Summary of Part III:

Brooks International’s Implementation process is designed to help clients systematically think through the basic components of a high-performing business model. We believe our methodology is highly comprehensive and we can bring substantial experience to bear on each element. The end deliverable is a custom-designed business model, based on precise client and stakeholder expectations, embodying proven principles of motivation and continuous improvement and employing thought leadership on issues of technology, management processes and competency development.

IV. Managing Change

We recognize that much of this next section is either covered directly or touched upon in previous sections. Nevertheless, we thought it useful to assemble our key beliefs about change management in one place. As you will read, our philosophy and methodology are based on the simple principle that change must be good for the majority of those who must change, as well as customers and shareholders, for success to be highly probable.

The starting point for all successful change management undertakings is the fundamental acceptance of three principles:

  1. All complex change (we define complex as requiring both technical and human change) ultimately depends on the user organization’s willingness to change relevant behaviors.
  2. People (and therefore, organizations) change behavior when they become convinced that it is in their best personal interest to do so. In other words, the majority must believe that by making the change succeed, they will reap greater personal reward and recognition than if the change fails. Initially, this belief is based on faith. Ultimately, it must be based on practical experience.
  3.  Changing organizational behavior depends on the redesign of three interrelated factors, which we refer to as Expectations, Capabilities & Motivators.

The First Step – Creating the Opportunity for Successful Change

The first responsibility that the change sponsor (the client leadership team) and the agent (Brooks International) have is to create a climate of adequate trust and willingness to participate in the change initiative. To establish this positive climate, several bases should be touched upon:

  • Leadership should announce its intention to explore opportunities for increased results in the chosen change area or domain. Leadership should provide an explanation to staff members/stakeholders as to why this area was selected.
  • A decision process should be established and communicated. This process should involve stakeholders (those who will benefit and those who must make the change succeed) from all levels of the organization. We strongly recommend the Brooks International Decision Dialogue Process (DDP) in this regard. It is important to understand the power of the DDP. First, it’s based on the scientific study of Decision Quality. Second, it’s designed to produce strong commitment to action. Third, it ensures that leaders retain authority over the decision “frame,” while enabling stakeholders from multiple levels to participate meaningfully.
  • The concept of ECM should be explained to all stakeholders, as it will be the framework for thinking about and designing change. In simple terms –
    • The organization must align itself to a common set of Expectations, which relate directly to shareholder value and value-based customer satisfaction. It is critical that each individual’s contribution can be measured in terms of these expectations;
    • The necessary Capabilities to succeed must be provided, utilized to their fullest potential – and continuously improved. These include processes, best practices, management tools and information technology – the key enablers.
    • When organizational expectations are met, contributors must be rewarded meaningfully and directly with the proper Motivators.
  • An effort must be undertaken to gain agreement that opportunity for significant improvement exists. This effort can include:
    • Feedback on what customers want (and are getting from competition);
    • Feedback on what competition is doing and the gains they are making;
    • Exposure to new technologies and solutions that now exist;
    • An assessment of the barriers that exist in the current environment;
  • Variation in processes, practices, metrics and management techniques should be examined;
    • Surveys of the change target audience to get views on needs and opportunities;
    • Presentations of the benefits that change could bring and how each stakeholder group will benefit;
    • Using front-line managers as advocates. They have more credibility than senior executives or consultants. Get them on board early and use them to communicate.
  • Finally, the decision should be made, using the decision process as agreed to previously. Once again, it should be recognized that, ultimately, the willingness of individuals to commit to a given course of change would be based on their assessment of the impact on themselves. Issues like job security, redundancy, advancement vs. demotion, more or less income, more or less work, more requirement for doing things I don’t like or am afraid of, fear of failure and other similar concerns should be anticipated and addressed candidly.

The Second Step – Designing the Change Management Process

This step involves the assignment of responsibility and authority, the planning, scheduling, reporting, quality control and dispute-resolution framework necessary to manage change. Largely, it is a planning and decision step – as opposed to an “action” one. Nevertheless, it is critical – not only to get it right, but to use the DDP to ensure that all stakeholder groups feel a part.

The Third Step – Allaying Individual Concerns & Reasons to Resist

Prior to Implementation, the sponsors should take time to help the organization understand – at all levels – what new expectations the change represents on an individual level. Among the questions that should be anticipated are:

  • What is my job; how is it different from what I do now?
  • Who is my boss?
  • What is my compensation?
  • Is there opportunity to advance?
  • What are the new goals for performance?
  • How am I expected to change?
  • What kind of help will I receive (training, technology)?
  • How long do I have to succeed; what progress is expected?
  • What happens if I fail?
  • Do I have any options?
  • Is the company willing to make adjustments?
  • What happens if the change doesn’t work?
  • Is the company willing to tolerate a drop in sales while we make the change?
    (Note: This list can be expanded as necessary.)

The Brooks International Goal Translation Process is an excellent tool in this regard.

The Fourth Step – Figuring out WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?)

People change when they become convinced it is in their best interest to do so. In other words, people change when they believe they will earn more of the rewards and recognition they seek (or conversely, avoid consequences they fear) by doing so.
It’s clear that the stronger the connection between achieving the goals set for the change and the rewards that contributors earn, the faster and more sustainable the desired behavioral changes will be.

As much as possible, this performance-reward connection should be figured out and communicated in advance of Implementation. Nothing cements the effectiveness of behavioral change like hard evidence that success will produce increased rewards and recognition.

The DDP can be used effectively here as well. Multiple stakeholders can participate in defining:

  • The types of motivators that are most desirable;
  • Options for linking performance and rewards;
  • Advantages, disadvantages, ways to beat the system, and the final version to be piloted.

While the new Motivators system does not have to be planned in advance, it is far more desirable to shoot for it.

The Fifth Step – Going Live with Implementation

There are two critical points to emphasize here:

    • Training without front-line or “on the floor” support is never enough when behavioral change is involved. The best ratio is eight hours of real-world support for each hour of classroom work. Line managers, despite their best intentions, lack vital experience, time and objectivity – and sometimes conviction – when it comes to real-world implementation.
    • Never start the Implementation without a group kickoff meeting to prepare everyone and provide for Q&A. Have front-line supervisors play a lead role – in most cases, they are the most credible line of management.

Other key tips:

  1. Spend time brainstorming as to the potential problems and how to handle them – before going live.
  2. Have your goals and measures available and understood from the start. Adjust them as experience dictates.
  3. Review progress twice a day for the first three-four days, then daily for two weeks.
  4. Always pilot before roll out.
  5. Set up a PR mechanism to broadcast success – especially to the next Implementation targets.
  6. Hold formal turnover meetings to officially transfer responsibility from change agent to user.
  7. Create a “Help Desk” mechanism to deal with problems.
  8. Conduct audits to ensure internalization.
  9. Merchandize upward.
  10. Document the final business model.
  11. Convert the results into shareholder value created.

V. Value Delivery (a.k.a. Implementation)

More than 65 percent of the Brooks International portfolio and capability is devoted to value delivery or the implementation of our clients’ strategic imperatives. Value delivery is the term we use for turning plans into money. We are deeply experienced with more than 55 years in the field of implementation. Our methodologies are behaviorally based, which means that a primary objective is not only to create a higher performing business model, but also to create one that is behaviorally sustainable. To us, this means that expectations, capabilities and motivators must be in total “sync.”

There are several other principles that form the basis for our Implementation approach (methodology and attitude). These are:

  • Value creation is the No. 1 goal of business leadership. Accordingly, it should be the No. 1 goal of change. Consequently, all Implementation engagements are designed to deliver significant increases in value – quickly and sustainably. These targets are agreed upon beforehand and measured from the outset. We call this “results-based” change.
  • Implementation “investments” must make economic sense. The value delivered must exceed the investment by a wide margin. The payback must be fast.
  • Time must be spent where most of the change must happen. We spend 80 percent of our Implementation effort at the front line, where 80 percent of the people work. We are hands-on implementers, not executive suite facilitators.
  • The implementation of change is only successful if the necessary behaviors to sustain are in place and management has the tools to do so.
  • Again, if there is a single key to effective and sustainable change, it is the front-line manager. Accordingly, these individuals are a focal point of our attention.

Our value-delivery process has been applied in most industries, competencies and functions. It has been applied in service and manufacturing, union and non-union shops, high and low tech environments, as well as in telecommunications, back office processing and call centers.

Typically, value-delivery assignments deliver financial benefits between five and 10 times the cost on an annual basis – and pay for themselves in nine months.

VI. Other Potentially Relevant Capabilities

Brooks International has excellent capabilities in a number of areas, which are either subsets of the preceding or additional including:

  1. Six Sigma
  2. Business Process Reengineering
  3. Strategies for Maximizing Shareholder Value
  4. Outsourcing Set Up and Operation
  5. Telecommunication Rules and Regulations
  6. Executive and Organizational Alignment
  7. Service Level Agreements
  8. Valuation, Mergers and Acquisitions
  9. Thinking Through Complex Proposal Responses

VII. Conclusion

For the past 55 years, we have been fortunate to create and deliver measurable and sustainable value for our clients. For more information about our capabilities and how Brooks International may be instrumental in helping you achieve your strategic imperatives and deliver sustained value for your organization, please visit www.brooksint.com or contact our Business Development professionals at (561) 214-8800.

Lui Damasceno
Chief Executive Officer
Brooks International


Achieve your strategic imperative & required financial objectives.
See what a Brooks International initiative can do for you.