|About HPL |
Since 1994, HPL has provided leadership, management, and employee development programs and consulting services to more than 300 federal agencies, manufacturing companies, and service firms throughout the United States. We help our clients to improve individual and team performance, quality of products and services, and organizational effectiveness - especially during periods of rapid change. Our 25+ senior level consultants and training professionals have worked with many large private sector organizations as well as many federal agencies. Our Corporate Offices are located outside of Boston, and we have regional offices in Washington, DC and West Palm Beach, FL.
"This one process
improvement has saved the company $521,000 during the past year!" |
|HPL Programs and Services |
The Changing Role of Management
Collaborative Conflict Resolution
Dealing with Difficult People
Dealing with Unacceptable Behavior
EAGLES (Personal Achievement)
Handling Multiple Priorities
Leading Effective Meetings
Managing Difficult Conversations
Mastering Major Presentations
Motivation & Communication
|Join our list |
WELCOME to the latest issue of High Performance Learning's quarterly newsletter: High Performance News.
By providing you with the most recent developments at HPL, along with highlights from the leadership, management, and employee development fields, we hope to help you and your colleagues continue on your journey to becoming a high performing organization.
Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues, and as always, please contact us with any comments or questions. We look forward to hearing from you!
HPL Client Documents
Process Improvement Savings
|It seemed like a good idea at
the time - and an even better one now, just one year later.
This HPL client, a
medium-size New England food processing company (who may have been a key
supplier for your last BBQ!), created a cross-functional team to explore ways
to reduce transportation costs and improve space utilization.
Twelve months later they had
no idea just how great the savings would be!
The Warehouse Shipping team -
composed of supervisors from operations, warehousing, industrial engineering,
procurement and finance - is one of a dozen teams set up as part of an
organization-wide initiative to improve the way the company does business. The
basic concept is to train and empower employees at every level, all 500 of them,
to find ways to streamline key processes and improve how work gets done.
"It's a cultural revolution,"
says the Human Resource Director, who is spearheading the effort, guided by HPL
Senior Consultant Mark Arnold. "Instead of telling people, 'Just do what I
say,' supervisors are now asking employees to give us their improvement ideas."
Arnold, an experienced
process improvement consultant, shepherded this effort from its inception. He used the training tools and skills from
HPL's process improvement and team problem solving programs to spur numerous improvement
initiatives, under the supervision of a guiding coalition of managers dedicated
to dismantling the existing silos that were keeping the various departments
from working more effectively together.
When the senior management
team first embraced continuous process improvement as a "new way
of life" they adopted a unifying mission statement, created new initiatives - encouraging
recognition and communication programs, and chartered improvement teams to find
new ways to reduce waste, improve quality, streamline key processes and boost
customer satisfaction. They also established a cadre of internal facilitators, trained
by HPL Senior Consultant Susan Timmins. These in-house facilitators have now
taught the concepts and skills of continuous improvement to the entire
And the rewards have been
significant. One team streamlined the meat-processing system, increasing
yields, filling ovens to 99% average capacity (up from the mid 70% level) and
reducing machine downtime significantly. Another improvement team revamped the
design control system used to develop new products and track product
changes. But the greatest financial
savings have come from the Warehouse Shipping team, using the HPL team problem
solving tools, by implementing two frequently asked questions: "Why do we do it
this way?" and "Is there a better way to do it?"
The team leader, who manages
the warehouse, recalls: "The first time we toured the team through the
warehouse, a member asked: 'Why do we leave a hole in the middle when we stack
pallets?' We explained that it's because we mix different weight items on the
pallet so all the individual weights can be more easily seen and recorded when
shipping. We went on to analyze the situation and had our first project!"
The team's analysis showed
that the company should use same-weight items on a pallet, so there's no longer
a need for the "hole in the middle." This led the team to change the pallet
configuration and the box size of 16 items, allowing more items on a pallet and
fewer boxes - a savings the Finance department forecasts will save them at
least $26,000 a year. The team eventually changed box sizes of 30 more items.
More standardized packaging and increased pallet efficiency reduced shipment
costs per pound and freed up more warehouse space while reducing waste,
handling, congestion and damage.
The team's largest savings
to-date came from investigating a process that two supermarket chains had
requested to preserve the shelf life of company-shipped sausage products. For
several years, all sausage items to these two chains were being subjected to a
very expensive and time-consuming "gas flush" process intended to preserve
freshness. It was a practice never questioned - until the team examined the
current ordering schedule and found that both chains were using up the meat as
fast as they were receiving it, thus raising the question: "Why continue to
"Working closely with our customers, the supermarkets, we cut out gas flushing for a month, and then asked for their feedback.
They agreed it was no longer necessary," says the team leader.
This one process improvement
has actually saved the company $521,000 during the past year in production
costs, and has also eliminated 40 tons of plastic from landfills. The company's
Finance department estimates total savings, from this and other team
innovations, at $600,000-$700,000 a year.
HPL's Arnold says that these
tools are "a great example of how empowered employees, armed with new process
improvement and problem solving skills, and encouraged by management to look
for better ways to get their work completed, can help the organization to
achieve key goals, improve service to customers, and improve financial results,
while the employees are also finding greater meaning in their work."
Research Shows That Most Organizations Need Additional Project Management
Management Institute (PMI) estimates that the United States spends $2.3 trillion
on projects each year. Unfortunately, studies show that most of these projects
will not succeed. The Standish Group reports that only 29% of all projects are
actually delivered on time, within budget, and to specification.
According to the PMI Fact Book, nearly 90% of all companies
lack a strategy to properly manage their project portfolios, and only
17.6% of companies have standard project management processes in place. Given
this set of facts, it raises the question, "Where is the return on
your project management training?"
And, how much is
it costing your organization to have important projects that are not being
properly managed, are late, and/or are completed over budget?
revised The Exceptional Project Manager workshop will
provide your project managers and project team members with a sound and
thorough understanding of what it means to work on a well managed project and
how to be an effective project manager. Each participant will learn how to
successfully Initiate, Plan, Execute, Control and Close
both small and large projects. This highly interactive workshop provides
opportunities for project managers, project leaders and project team members
to learn and apply new project management skills to insure that all
projects are completed on time and on budget. An optional 2 day workshop on how to use MS Project is also available.
PDAs and the Changing Face of Email
|The groundswell of personal digital assistant (PDA) usage is rapidly changing the face of email. No longer are users viewing messages on large monitors or subject lines in fields of about 35-40 characters. Monitors have given way to 2" screens' subject lines, to fields of a few words.
Instant messaging and emailing are morphing as users incorporate IMing and texting abbreviations into emails. We're not recommending that you start using these abbreviations quite yet, but know what they mean when you see them. Some popular abbreviations include: @ (at), CID (consider it done), CU (see you), FYI (for your information), HTH (hope this helps), IOW (in other words), L8R (later), NRB date (need reply by date), NRN (no response necessary), PLS (please), THX (thanks), TBA (to be announced) and many more. Here are some tips to help you communicate more effectively with PDA users.
Many PDAs display only a few words in the subject line. That very valuable real estate will determine whether the intended receiver reads your message. Conventional wisdom has told us to write compelling subject lines. However, with such a limited field of view, it becomes a matter of what to skip, what to abbreviate and what to start with. Here are a few suggestions:
Calling Attention to Information
- Instead of writing We need to reschedule the March meeting, consider writing March mtg to be rescheduled.
- Instead of writing I'll see you at 3:00; consider writing CU @ 3.
Traditional ways of calling attention to information have included boldface, bullets, tabs and more. Some of these methods don't always survive the trip through cyberspace and show up at gobbledygood on PDAs. Here are some options:
- Instead of using bullets, consider using asterisks (**), greater than symbols (>>), hyphens (--) or other ASCII characters.
- Instead of boldface, include some other way to emphasize the text. You may write **Deadline: May 5**. If the bold doesn't appear, the reader will still see **Deadline: May 5**.
- Instead of tabbing, use the space bar.
If you send an attachment, summarize the essence of the attachment into a brief opening paragraph so the reader can get the gist of the message quickly.
Copying & Pasting
If you copy and paste from another format (such as an Excel spreadsheet) the PDA may display the word Insert instead of the file that was pasted. Consider sending the file as an attachment.
On a final note, although brevity is an asset with PDA users, don't omit common courtesies such as Please and Thank you, even if you do abbreviate them. Also, don't get sloppy. We recently learned of a CEO who includes the following disclaimer at the end of his poorly written messages: Forgive errors, I am writing on a Blackberry®. Many users find this distasteful.
The author of this article, Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts, is a Senior HPL Consultant. She facilitates all of HPL's business, technical and email writing workshops. You can reach her at either of our offices listed below or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Connected Are You?
A recent study showed that not only do Americans rely on the Internet for
information, entertainment and many other resources; they also now prefer to
access it on the go.
Laptops and cell phones are
the most popular means of connecting wirelessly, but other devices are becoming
more mainstream as well.
- 56 percent of
Americans said they have used wireless Internet.
39 percent use a
laptop computer to access the Internet wirelessly.
- 32 percent access
the Internet through a mobile device, like their cell phone.
45 percent of
adults have an iPod or MP3 player.
- 41 percent of
adults own game consoles, but only nine percent have used them to go online.
14 percent of
adults use a personal digital assistant (PDA).
Only two percent
of adults own an e-book reader, like a Kindle, but half of these have accessed
the Internet with it.