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Electronic platforms to aid business excellence development in the ‘New Normal’

The game changer

Wow, wow, wow. How things have changed in the last 6 months across the globe. Before COVID-19 we found ourselves being highly connected through technology every second of the day and yet never really having felt more apart than at any time.

Along comes COVID-19, lockdowns left, right and center from China to the US and everywhere in between, and people start really uncovering the technology that was out there and specifically designed to keep us connected. Boy did everyone jump at it!  

Zoom, Teams, Skype...all of a sudden these have become household and corporate’s go-to platforms to stay emotionally and virtually connected to our friends, colleagues and families and at the same time, if our work and job allowed us to, run businesses virtually.  

In most cases it would appear that businesses have really embraced the functionality in order to have calls and meetings, use of instant messaging chat and collaboration and sharing of documents. At Unleash we have been using MS Teams for some time prior to the pandemic and had developed the platform, not only for the standard business requirements as mentioned above, but we have been able to use it to develop and deliver business excellence strategies and methodologies in a digital and virtual environment.

Out with the old...

Now, 6 months or more ago, people may have been far more skeptical about how effective and indeed acceptable it would be to try and develop, for example, a continuous improvement system in an organization on an electronic platform, along with the required training and project management that at times this will require. But it can, and we have, and now the world may just be a little more open to the true benefit that these kinds of team collaboration platforms can offer.  

The strategy to develop and deploy this is simple. Engage the people, implement the improvements they want and need and then watch your performance improve. And a platform like MS Teams has been designed in such a way to make this possible.

Every single department in your organization, and its team members, whether they are office based, factory based or home based, can be on this platform and have the ability to communicate quickly and easily regardless of where in the world they are. The applications that can then be linked into MS Teams, such as MS Planner, means that the department could build an improvement action board for their department on Teams which is visible to all that have been added to that team in the platform. 

So, you could have a team created in MS Teams for your organization … Company ABC. In this team, each department in the organization can now have a dedicated channel in MS Teams and in this channel they can create tabs alongside the ones included as standard, namely a files tab for file sharing, a post tab for an additional level of communication for that channel, and a wiki tab. The additional tabs the department can now add, come from a selection of numerous applications available through MS Teams. 

...in with the new!

One such application is MS planner, and the department could now build an improvement board that all in the department could access at any time and add an idea or suggestion to the board. This is then visible to all in the team immediately with email notifications and activity notifications in the platform. 

A simple column or ‘bucket’ structure can now be built in the board, so you can have a new ideas bucket, a bucket for ideas on hold, a bucket for ideas on progress. You could have a simple 5 bucket setup matching a tried and trusted continuous improvement approach. Bucket 1 is new ideas, then bucket 2 is for ideas that are on hold but need to be done, however now capacity to deliver all the ideas on the board may be a bit limited. These would be followed by four buckets, one for Plan, one for Do, one for Check and one for Act. Mimicking the PLAN/DO/CHECK/ACT or Deming Cycle. Cards can be moved easily between these buckets as the actions on the card progress and require a new phase in the cycle.

The platform is also compatible with touchscreens which adds to the tactile feel of these boards. So, if your environment has been one where before you used more manual, physical improvement boards or suggestion schemes, this might add a nice familiarity to it. With the platform available on PCs, mobiles and tablets, this adds a massive bonus that anyone in the team can access these boards regardless of their location, whether they are travelling or in the ‘new normal’ are working from home, as not everyone can be on site in the office due to social distancing requirements.

Wherever you may go

But this also means that you can engage customers and suppliers in exactly the same way, and if they are added to your platform as important stakeholders within your supply chains, then the level of collaboration, again, even in the new normal is heightened. And this has a massive impact on operational momentum. 

This level of connectivity and accessibility means that the organization can unearth possible improvements or actions that can lead to business excellence, these are visible to all on the platform and everyone can be engaged in the conversation about whether to proceed with it, its level of priority or adaptations that need to be made to the suggestion. From there working on the improvement and keeping everyone up to date is instantaneous and can be done from anywhere in the world. This means that decision making can be done at speed with all the information at your fingertips in the platform.

A nice side effect that we have experienced with these platforms, is that if you use the website app in a tab in a team channel and link your webmail alongside the fact that the instinctive behaviour in today’s corporate world is to manage your day through your inbox, it now drives you to do this in a collaboration platform. We know a lot of mail apps claim to have some of this collaborative ability, but we don’t think this compares to a dedicated collaboration platform such as MS teams.

And what is so grand about that you ask, well, we have found that people start realizing that instead of firing off another email in defense, aggression or to add a voice to a mail trail, they might drop the person an IM chat. Now the communication becomes far more direct and personal. A lot of people understand the communication medium and use it often in their personal lives through platforms such as Facebook or WhatsApp. Now the corporate communication starts taking on a social feel. People drop their defenses a bit more and may share some banter ad a joke. This is aided using emoticons and amusing gifs.  

This in turn leads to people then progressing more to using the call functionality, so now they have a chat instead of IM messaging. And before long, collaboration and culture really start blossoming and emails are on the decline!!! 

Now put all that into a continuous improvement environment or a business excellence system and the results can be phenomenal.

Business excellence in the ‘new normal’ is not a pipe dream, it is a very real possibility and with the aid of these types of corporate teams’ collaboration platforms, will have a massive and positive influence on business sustainability and cultural development!

Summary

If you are committed to achieving business excellence, and found this article enjoyable and thought provoking, and if you’d like all future copies sent straight to your inbox or if you would like to join our Unleash Collaboration Zone on Microsoft Teams where you can share your experiences and thoughts in light of the current challenging situation, then please contact us

Thanks

Steve

Image source: unsplash.com

Published at: 07-06-2020