For decades, a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant had been running under a smart, traditional leader that always promoted their environment as unique. The employees took pride in handling things individually without including or coordinating with others. However, external pressures caused new challenges in productivity, safety, quality, and cost. The plant also changed ownership twice in just two years, lost experienced leaders, and was now struggling.
- 22 production batches in the past year were late
- 13% turnover – high for the industry
- Shut down twice in a year for safety issues
- Costs were out of control
The new owners experienced that the leaders’ sense of pride, which had served this group well in the past, was the reason for them being stuck, siloed, immature, and resistant to positive change.
B STATE Approach
Step 1) Introduce a New Mindset
Every leader at the plant attended a half-day “working session” called the Fundamentals of Breakthrough Leadership where they came to grips with the truth of their situation and how they needed to move from the pride of being individual and autonomous to the power of shared ownership and accountability.
Step 2) Install a Breakthrough Senior Leadership Accountability System
By installing a B STATE Team Accountability System, the Senior Team created a unified future Picture of Success and established a new culture by creating new Habits of Collective Execution and taking Shared Ownership for top priorities. More importantly, they created an environment of both Safety and Accountability for holding each other to the new habits, something they had never done in the past.
Step 3) Engage Middle Managers as an Operational Leadership Team
The critical piece was to shift the middle manager mindset from rebellious and blaming to one that could take clear direction and priorities and translate them into operational execution as a unified team with a business ownership attitude. For this we again used the B STATE Team Accountability System and in two days set up the new mindset, collective habits, plans for executing the priorities, and plans to recover from unforeseen breakdowns as a unified team.
Immediate Culture Shift
They immediately demonstrated…
- The Senior Leadership Team (SLT) was able to speak with one voice and rally the plant
- Priorities were clear and tasks that weren’t priorities were removed from the discussion
- Senior leaders gave clear direction without micromanaging the newly formed middle management team and leaned on them to provide the how-to and the drive
- Middle Managers as an Operational Leadership Team (OLT) took over full responsibility for implementing strategic priorities from beginning to end
- The SLT and OLT teams coordinated and met together to ensure escalation only happened at the right time and always happens when it needed to involve the SLT
- Rather than any one leader or team trying to solve issues by themselves, they involved 3-4 other leaders to solve problems, and brought the solutions to the SLT and OLT teams for alignment and support
- Employees were engaging at a level never before experienced in safety, quality, and productivity improvements and execution
Rapid Breakthrough Results
In the first 3-6 months, the plant reduced costs while increasing safety, quality, and speed, and vastly improving their reputation in the corporation.
- Batch Production – went from 22 behind (previous year) to 17 ahead (in first six months)
- Quality Metrics – Were “green” for the entire year, and they were the only plant in the entire system to achieve this
- Safety – Near miss identification increased dramatical in the first 3 months leading to a 50% reduction in recordable incidents over 12 months
- Turnover – decreased from 13% to 3%
- Leadership – went from 0 to 7 middle managers being ready for Senior Leadership positions
- Owners – changed their attitude about the plant, previously considering it for closure to now seeing it as the hub for production and testing for North America
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