Investing in Alignment, Communication and Accountability delivers ROI
The HJ Heinz Company, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is the most global of all US-based food companies. Famous for their iconic brands on six continents, Heinz manufactures and distributes food in 200 countries around the world with over 32,000 employees generating more than $10 billion in annual revenue.
The Procurement Group for Heinz’s North American Consumer Products Division, led by Chief Procurement Officer, Chris Stockwell, has a total staff of 75 that includes 5 Directors, 20 Senior Managers, and 50 Buyers.
When Stockwell joined the organization, the department’s results were in the bottom quartile of the industry for overall effectiveness. According to Stockwell;
“The department did not have the right people or processes and there had been substantial leadership turnover.” Stockwell worked to build new key functional capabilities with a focus to not only take cost out of the buying procedure, but to streamline the entire buying process. The department developed twenty measurements in areas such as quality, cash, service alignment, innovation, and cost. During this time, the group also created a value engineering process along with a raw material management program to drive down inventory, indirect sourcing, tools, and foster supplier partnerships.
After establishing theses fundamental processes, Stockwell was able to focus on the need to upgrade the efficiency and guiding philosophies of the department to improve performance and bottom-line results. Areas of concern included inefficient processes, ineffective internal and cross-functional communication, and excessive meetings. Stockwell wanted systems that would create a high performing work team and address the department’s key development needs.
To address the performance management challenges within the group and to bring the organization to a new level of focus and alignment, Stockwell engaged with McGhee Productivity Solutions (MPS) to deploy department-wide Take Back Your Life® group seminars and a consulting engagement, involving Strategic Team Planning and Team Accountability Program.
According to the MPS consultant’s initial assessment, departmental objectives rarely cascaded beyond the Director level, so the group lacked understanding and alignment on their priorities. As a direct result, there was a great deal of meetings and effort focused on projects and activities that were not relevant to broader departmental/company goals. In addition, there was no formalized accountability process to track best practices, course correct, and acknowledge success. This extended to performance reviews which were rarely looked at and did not align with objectives.
To address the alignment, communication and accountability challenges, a four-phase program was initiated:
• Phase 1 – Preparing for Change
• Phase 2 – Strategic Team Plan (STP)
• Phase 3 – Accountability Program (AP)
• Phase 4 – Sustainability Plan (SP)
Each phase addressed a specific area of concern and was designed to create a more cohesive and aligned team.
According to follow-up consultations with the leadership team, these facilitated programs helped establish a more refined set of objectives and a better understanding of how to leverage the organization. In addition, they created constant alignment to objectives, connecting the time and actions of every person on a daily basis to the overall strategic initiatives.
It also helped manage organizational change and staff transitions since new team members had documented information available to help them adapt quickly to key objectives. Finally, through this process, senior leaders were able to utilize their coaching and training to transition from tactical managers to strategic leaders, learning to delegate more effectively and leverage their teams.
“This has become a way of life for us,” said Stockwell. “Each individual program helped us to guide and measure for adjusting priorities. There is no fear around being measured. We enjoy the acknowledgement and the course correcting that goes along with it. Our people are now better at managing their time and making better decisions.”