Hugh McGill is an Operations Consultant/Coach, with a passion for and significant experience in molding organizational cultures which bring out the potential of all members of the business and engage employees in personal growth and learning. In the following, Hugh explains his experience in the success of a company going from a more traditional siloed kind of organizational structure into something that was completely different. Read below:

Hugh McGill Cultural Brilliance RadioI joined the [global pharmaceutical company] in 2008 at a time when they had decided that it was going to be become a process-centric organization.  Let me explain what that is.

The goal of a process-centric organization is to have minimal handoffs, have multi-skilled teams that allow for decision making, accountability, the responsibilities within the team, and then, alignment of responsibilities through the whole team.

For example, in the siloed organization, Engineering is a department, Quality is a department, Manufacturing is a department, Planning is a department and if you need help, you’re physically going to those departments and asking for help.

The thing about a process-centric organization, it allows everybody in the organization to have very clear goals.  Everybody is going out to the same thing and it’s all related to ensuring that the customers and in my case, the patients, have high quality products when they need it.  That was very much the goal of achieving that.

Prior to myself joining, the organization spent some time teaching people about demand driven supply, helping them understand lean principles which are very much a component of this.  When I say lean principles, these are standard ways of working, creating a continuous improving environment, and empowering people to make decisions.

The initial conversations that took place in the very beginning were very much about what does the team look like, how does it work?  How do you create a much closer, more aligned group of people who can work with each other and help each other?

They developed process execution teams.  I was on two teams as a coach; my role in the teams was to help people recognize what are they doing to achieve the goals of the organization?  What are the behaviors that leaders need?  What are the competencies we need within the teams?

I was bouncing back and forth between both teams to help them engage themselves in best practices of how to behave.

A process execution team is made up of a ring of people that includes the facilitators of the production group, the maintenance facilitators, the mechanics, the engineering group, the quality group, etc. This is one team reporting to a PC lead that was in charge and the final decisions came down to him.

That group was making sure that communication was going down through the organization, through the team.  On a daily basis, they were wandering through the production areas, and talking with people, looking at the day’s results, what’s happened?  What were the three biggest losses and what action did we take against them?  It is about communicating within the team, that everybody’s voice was very important, that everybody’s voice and thoughts were really significant and needed to be heard.  The problems needed to be visible and we weren’t going to shoot anybody because of problems, we were going to understand them and learn from them.

Much of it was about engaging people on a daily basis as to what’s happened in the last 24 hours, making visible results and having visible signals within the team as to whether we were on target or not.

There was a green flag — one of the facilitators came up with flags.  We had a green flag next to every single production line when things were working well, and when things weren’t working well it was yellow, when we’re missing targets they were going red.  These teams really wanted green flags so they were really proactive.  The moment that flag started to go towards yellow, they would be calling maintenance. So, it’s key to getting the team engaged and recognizing that they had the power to do stuff themselves.

As a result, it was sort of flattening the organization; it was flattening the group within the teams to help everybody understand the scope and the scale of the issues.  But it wasn’t somebody else’s problem, it was the team’s problem.

In organizations that have traditional siloes, you go and knock on Quality’s door when there’s a problem, “We’ve got a problem,” well, in this environment, Quality and Manufacturing were working in true partnership where they’d see the good and the bad, and ask each other for help.  It was wonderful to see.