The Business ChallengeA Site Facilities Director of a multinational research and development company was tasked by his Senior Leaders with pulling together and chairing a quarterly meeting of Facilities Managers from across the company's 20+ sites. He was given a team of people to support him as a planning committee, and told that the purpose was to learn together and share best practices to improve their performance and find ways to cut costs across the system. He was very concerned about eliciting enough participation from the other sites to make the forum viable, especially given the tension and major differences in philosophy among some of the major sites, as well as the fact that they all had different reporting lines up through the company, with differing goals and agendas. After a few initial meetings, his committee had stalled, unsure of how to proceed, and they called us to help them.
The Business Challenge (Take Two)To begin with, we helped the client see that he was approaching the situation from a very basic level of Business Value Awareness - seeking to "do what management asked me to do with the resources they gave me to do it" (Stage 1 thinking, in our developmental model, described in the article on Five Levels of BVA ). He quickly shifted his thinking to focus on the underlying Business Value challenge here, which was not "how can this committee and I get the most attendance at this forum and make it go well?", which is what he had called us to help with, but "how can we create the maximum benefit for the company given the amount of time and resource we put into creating this forum (a Stage 4 objective), and how can we document and demonstrate that return on investment" (Stage 5 objective). With this shift in focus, our client experienced a new surge of inspiration for the project, and we went to work designing the Forum.
The Meeting Design SolutionA first obvious step was re-creating his committee. As often happens with these kinds of delegations, he had been given "resource" to help him pull off the task, but they weren't the right people. The committee members assigned to him were all junior to him in the organization at his own site. It was no wonder that they spent several meetings validating each other's questions and concerns without providing much new insight. The people he needed to help him design the forum were the Facility Managers from some of the other major sites who would be key participants in it. This simple change of "committee" transformed his design approach from "guessing" what would make the meeting seem useful to people and "hoping" that others would come, to eliciting the buy in and participation right up front by co-designing a meeting that would meet the larger group's needs and outcomes. He finished this task, convening his new "informal" committee with a couple hours' worth of phone calls -- accomplishing what the committee hadn't in its several weeks of meetings. This also helped establish a key "way of working" for the future meetings of the group - that they'd design and decide collaboratively. So, within days of our first meeting, our client had the dates set up for the first Forum, and a greater number of commitment of key participants than he had hoped for. He retained our services to facilitate the meetings, as well as to design an approach to measuring the business impact of the Forum.
The Business Value Solution:The participants in these quarterly forums wanted to improve their abilities to measure and communicate Business Value, so we used workshop sessions for Business Value training, as well as other related skills, such as Strategic Influencing. We used the Forum itself as a case study, and guided the members to
- create their own Value Add Documentation process (by which individual participants could identify and any forms of value that the Forum contributed to their site and activities), and
- create a Communication Plan for the Forum (a "Marketing Plan", including a full Stakeholder Analysis, and identification of key messages).
We ended up designing a Four-Tiered approach to identifying and measuring the Business Value of this Facilities Management Forum, which could serve to document and organize all the ways that the Forum created value.
- Savings created directly as a result of the Forum
- Savings created by the Forum's support of other existing initiatives to improve operational efficiency (like a company-wide Procurement initiative).
- Fulfillment of other organizational needs/objectives (like providing training to participants in support of internal development plans) and
- Completion of activities with intrinsic or intuitive value that were very hard to measure (like sharing best practices and improving communication across sites).
Zemo Trevathan and Associates:
The ResultsAt the end of Year One of the Forum, we carried out an SOI (savings on investment) analysis. The Value Add Documentation Process had recorded (Tier 1) savings of $807,000 compared to a total cost (including salaries as well as all other costs) of $270,000, which equaled a 197% return. This far surpassed management expectations (which were that the Forum should be able to "break even" in the first year - generate at least enough savings to cover its expenses). And because Operational Savings was a strategic initiative of the company at the time, the group was honored for directly contributing to the company's core objectives.
The group had also documented a long list of specific value contributions under both Tier 3 and 4 headings (the strategic, but non-financial measures). They reported these results later at a global meeting on the company's facility management, and their approach to the Forum and its Business Value measurement were identified as Best Practices for the company.