Business Consulting & Mentoring Case Summaries
Al Consulting, helping people just like you!
The Client – A husband and wife partnership that had built up a sizeable, multi-sited business from scratch.
The partners felt that they were too involved in the day to day management and wanted more time to explore other business opportunities. However, they did not feel sufficiently confident to leave the routine management to their managers.
We held meetings with the partners to clarify the nature and degree of the involvement they wished to have in their business and the extent to which their concerns about their managers were valid. We then discussed these concerns with the managers together with approaches for resolving them.
- the introduction of a new organisational structure
- the implementation of a new management reporting system
- managers now empowered to manage within the structure framework and reporting systems
- partners time spent in managing the business has decreased by almost 50%
VALUES AND BEHAVIORS
The Client – A large manufacturing company
Although the company had a set of well promoted values, the directors were concerned that these were not readily apparent from the behaviour of many of their managers at various levels.
The 30 senior manager were divided into three teams ensuring that all management areas were represented in each team. Each team spent 24 hours in a residential location to discuss and agree the validity of the company’s values and provide ranges of examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviours to illustrate the practical application of the values. The three teams were then brought together to consolidate their outcomes into one agreed version which was then presented to the directors for ratification. The revised values and behaviours were then cascaded to all staff and incorporated into the performance management criteria for managers.
- a largely consistent understanding of the values and required behaviours across all staff
- improved performance by managers at all levels
The Client – A large professional practice with thirty six partners and over 400 staff, operating from 22 offices, some without a resident partner.
The existing all-partner management meetings were proving too slow and cumbersome to provide effective day to day management of the practice. As a result local decisions were being made resulting in a significant lack of consistency in areas such as marketing, HR and IT. This issue had been discussed by the partners on many occasions, but no agreement as to what should be done, had been reached.
We arranged for all the partners to participate in a facilitated 48 hour residential retreat to consider the most effective management structure for the practice.
- All-partner meetings restricted to one per annum
- Practice divided into six geographic regions with quarterly partners’ meetings
- Six partner executive committee appointed to manage day to day issues
- Specialist managers appointed for marketing, HR and IT.
PRODUCTION LINE CHANGES
The Client – The client bottled natural spring water in a modern plant with three production lines. Two of the production lines were dedicated to a specific size of container whilst the third was used for some 10-12 different sized containers.
Whilst the two dedicated lines ran extremely efficiently, the length of time taken for changing over to different sized containers meant that the third line rarely achieved production targets or efficiencies. The third line was also unpopular with staff who avoided being assigned to the line if they possibly could. It was regarded as the place where the least able people worked.
We facilitated an action learning set comprising engineers, line operators, support and logistics staff, which met for two hours each week for 10 weeks.
- Change over times have been reduced from an average of 16 hours to an average of two hours
- The ability to change the line so quickly is now regarded as a major competitive factor
- Line 3 is now perceived to be the area where the most skilled people work.
RECRUITMENT AND TRAINING COSTS
The Client – A national estate agency.
The client spent considerable time and effort in recruiting staff, who then received extensive training over a six month period. The client calculated the cost of recruitment and selection to be approximately £1200 per person and the cost of their training to be £6000 per person. Unfortunately 42% left within 12 months of recruitment.
We carried out a range of psychometric profiles on high performing, existing, employees in order to create a generic profile. We then trained several of the agency’s staff to operate specific psychometric tests designed to identify how closely applications matched the generic profile.
- Recruitment costs have fallen to £700 per person
- The number of people leaving within the first 12 months is now only 23%
UNEXPECTED TAKE-OVER OFFER
The Client – A medium sized trading company with four, owner-directors.
The client received an unexpected take-over offer. Whilst none of the directors thought that the offer was adequate, the two older ones thought that the time might be right for selling their interest. This came as a complete shock to the other two, younger, directors.
We arranged for all the directors to participate in a facilitated 48 hour residential retreat to consider their position.
- An agreed strategy for building the company into a more valuable asset over the next five years
- An exit strategy for the older directors
- Options for remaining directors to buy out the interests of retiring directors.
PARTNERSHIP OR NETWORK?
The Client – A firm of solicitors with eight partners operating from eight offices in different small towns.
The Partners felt that the firm was not operating as effectively or as competitively as they felt it should. Although this issue had been discussed by the partners on many occasions, no agreement could be reached as to what should be done.
We arranged for all the partners to participate in a facilitated 36 hour residential retreat to:
- Consider whether they wished to operate as one practice or as a network of eight individual practices
- Devise a strategy or strategies for improving the effectiveness and competitiveness of their business.
- An amicable agreement which allowed five of the partners to continue working as one practice, two partners to retire and one to operate independently
- A strategy for the partnership to rationalise its working practices into areas of specialisms rather than general practice, with dedicated centralised support functions such as accounting and marketing.
DEMAND EXCEEDING PRODUCTION
The Client – A specialist livestock breeder and farmer.
The client’s business had reached the stage where he could no longer satisfy his ever growing market. He had considered a range of options but had not found a course of action which he either considered practical or could afford.
We organised a problem based learning workshop for the client and his staff.
A strategy for recruiting, training and licensing other people to breed and/or raise the livestock which would then be bought back by the client for marketing.
Four years on, this strategy has proved highly successful.
CLERGY MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT
The Client – An established church.
Clergy were complaining that they had insufficient time to attend to all the tasks they were expected to perform. None had had any formal management training and most believed that secular management techniques were not appropriate to a church.
We organised six, one day, problem based learning workshops spread over six months. Over the workshops we encouraged the participants to:
- Identify and prioritise their tasks
- Consider the range of appropriate management techniques available to them
- Debate why they felt these techniques to be inappropriate for their church
- Consider what further training they might find beneficial
- Devise strategies for working more effectively.
- Identified specific areas where further development was needed
- Prepared a personal development plan
- Resolved their concerns about the use of secular management techniques within their church.
SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
The Client – The warehouse and distribution division of a large, national retail chain.
This large, family owned retail chain was sold to a Venture Capitalist. As part of the process of building up the business prior to selling on, the new owners required the warehousing and distribution division to process a considerably expanded range of products and at significantly increased volumes. Although specialist consultants confirmed that the warehouse capacity and equipment was more than adequate for the task, throughput failed to reach the required volumes.
After carrying out a series of confidential, one-to-one interviews with a representative group of staff, several half-day working parties and tracking several products through the system, we proposed a restructuring of the divisional management and a supportive management development programme.
Throughput increased by 38% within 6 weeks and exceeded the target levels within 3 months.
TOO MUCH BUSINESS
The Client – A professional creative designer with an innovative style and technique, working on her own.
As a result of considerable, favourable national publicity, demand for this designer’s work rose to levels that she could never meet.
Through a series of one-to-one coaching sessions we were able to assist the designer to distinguish between those parts of her work which:
- were unique to her
- others could be taught to perform
- could be produced through semi-automated processes without losing the integrity of the output
- A multi product production and marketing plan (ie originals, limited editions and mass produced)
- Increased production of original designs
- 800% increase in overall productivity.
The Client – The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of a local authority.
The relatively recently appointed Deputy Chief Executive of a large district council found himself acting as Chief Executive when his Chief Executive took extended sick leave. The Council was about to undertake an extensive and potentially unpopular, restructuring and revise many of its major strategies in order to align them with Central Government directives. The Deputy felt exposed, vulnerable and unsupported.
The Council agreed to a programme of executive coaching. This included:
- Reviewing the Deputy CEO’s objectives
- Preparing psychometric profiles
- A 360 degree review of current performance
- A series of one-to-one coaching sessions to develop strategic leadership
- A reviewing progress and identifying development needs.
- A significant improvement in confidence
- Clear and prioritised objectives
- Substantial support from staff and councillors.
DEVELOPING STRATEGIC LEADERS
The Client – A Diocese of the Church of England
The Diocese recognised that the majority of its parish priests not only had excessively high work-loads, but were failing to adequately tackle many of their most critical challenges.
We carried out a series of short research projects to identify and define the real problems and their root causes. Based on the outcomes of this research we designed and delivered a strategic leadership development course for 16 parish priests, comprising 12, one day sessions over a year together with participation in a facilitated project.
- The course was judged “highly effective” by an independent evaluation team from a leading University Management School
- The Diocese plans to run the course annually for the next five years
- Eight other Diocese now wish to run the course
- Two other denominational churches wish to run the course for their ministers.
The Client – A large, national charity.
The charity, which is involved in environmental diversity, had grown rapidly and outgrown its structure, making effective management impossible. Comprising a core of employed professionals supported by many volunteers, the Charity felt that it was not making optimum uses of its resources and that much effort was being either duplicated or working in different directions.
We carried out an extensive survey of employees and professionals and identified a range of policy issues that the Charity needed to revise and clarify. At the same time we drew up a strategic leadership plan setting out a proposed new organisational structure, appropriate to the organisation’s need.
The strategic leadership plan and the new policies have been accepted and ratified by the Charity’s governing body and members.