Employee Ideas Generating Real Results in Rapid Timeframes

Improving New Product Launch​

How does a global R&D organization increase new product launch successes using IMPACT? Its senior leadership team empowers a rising star product developer to share her team’s secret weapon for getting customers engaged in product development.
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Customer co-design is not a new idea in product development circles. But doing it right and getting a return on investment can be a challenge. For an organization operating on three continents with more than a hundred new product teams, increasing the application of proven best practices can make a big difference.

Amy (the frontline leader recruited to take on the challenge) was initially skeptical about using IMPACT to lead the effort. As she recounted,

“I’m very accustomed to using video conferencing tools with my team and didn't relish the idea of learning a new program just for this assignment. But after going through the IMPACT team simulation I was excited about using the online brainstorming and prioritizing tools to get everyone engaged. I knew we needed fresh ideas for getting more of our product development teams to use customer co-design.”

Team COCO (as they dubbed themselves), with representatives from across the globe, launched online. In their first meeting, team members brainstormed over 40 ideas for encouraging greater use of customer co-design practices and organized those ideas for action all in one hour. A week later, the team convened again to prioritize their ideas for action, narrowing their focus to five IMPACT Actions, including:  

  • Conduct a survey to assess awareness of co-design methods, current application levels, and barriers to use.
  • Document the co-design process and options.
  • Consolidate and update the toolkit for planning and facilitating customer co-design projects.
  • Gather and organize a database of co-design case studies.
  • Develop a global roll-out plan to generate interest, incentivize usage, and gather results from new applications.

Meeting weekly and using the IMPACT Team Site as their guide, the team worked through the paces of converting these priority ideas into work products and action plans. Six weeks later the team presented its accomplishments and recommendations for further action to senior leaders. Their impressive work not only was enthusiastically supported, it also earned a commitment to increase the budget to fund more co-design projects emerging from their outreach program.

Reflecting on their IMPACT experience, team members greatly appreciated IMPACT being available to support their mission. As one team member commented, “We all came to this improvement effort with a lot of experience and knowledge. IMPACT allowed us to quickly and efficiently share and leverage that knowledge to develop a very focused and practical plan. Not only did we address the change management challenge of getting our colleagues to take on a proven, but unfamiliar practice, we had fun and learned a lot in the process.”

Finding Hidden Cost Savings

When faced with the urgent need to find cost savings from already squeezed suppliers in the midst of an economic downturn, the facilities director for a large manufacturing company deployed IMPACT teams to engage employees closest to the spending to find creative solutions.
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Rather than simply ask suppliers for more price concessions and risk deterioration in service and quality levels, Tom (a 20-year plus senior leader in facilities management) chose to engage his managers and coordinators across locations with a different strategy. Tom challenged his managers to launch five teams with representatives from across geographies to find innovative ways to reduce spend levels in high use services such a landscaping, janitorial, and handyman. And, make it happen under a strict no-travel mandate.

To support "Operation Lemonade", Tom introduced IMPACT to his management team. The campaign kicked off with an online workshop where the designated team leaders were introduced to the IMPACT platform and provided with a standard team charter template tailored to attack designated high spend areas.

Soon after, the team leaders launched their IMPACT teams, who went right to work in their first meetings brainstorming ideas to clarify supplier scopes of work, review performance expectations, identify unnecessary services or over supply of materials, and uncover possible areas for self-performance. Within 30 days of launch (involving four online team meetings supporting individual assignments to research the most promising savings opportunities) the teams tallied potential savings of close to one million dollars on a $15 million annual supply chain spent.

According to Tom, the biggest advantage in deploying IMPACT was speed to results. “Based on their frontline knowledge, I was not surprised by how quickly the teams were able to uncover opportunities. But what made this work was simplicity. IMPACT provided everything the teams needed to convert their good ideas into business cases, action plans, and results, all in one place.”

Improving Patient Care

How do you relieve patient processing bottlenecks in a fluctuating demand environment? For the quality assurance manager at a Federally Qualified Health Clinic, the question was answered by combining education on proven Lean Healthcare strategies and rapid implementation across work shifts, all facilitated by IMPACT.
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Making process changes in healthcare provider workplaces is doubly challenging. First, there is the schedule disruption and catch-up syndrome created by patient volume swings, combined with communication and coordination challenges across two to three shift operations. Tina, the quality assurance manager, knew from her experiences in a large hospital that adoption of Lean Healthcare strategies would make a difference, but she was stymied by budget constraints and staff shortages that often characterize publicly-funded clinics.

Tina discovered a creative solution by combining webinar-based education on Lean Healthcare methods with cross-shift IMPACT teams. For example, education on the Lean strategy for processing patients after appointments by complexity was followed by launch of an IMPACT team with representation across shifts and roles to develop an implementation plan.

As Tina explained, “Our clinic staff is very smart and dedicated. But because we are so busy helping our patients, it’s very difficult to make process changes, particularly across work shifts. However, by immediately launching an IMPACT team once we all agreed a Lean strategy was worth putting into practice, we were able to efficiently brainstorm and develop an implementation plan. From there, we took advantage of the virtual tools to stay aligned, coordinate actions, and track results. In the end, we were able to engage a large portion of the staff in the improvements, but with minimal disruption by implementing one Lean improvement at a time with IMPACT as our guide.”

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