Do you really want a Cornetto? Or do you actually need to go to Blackpool?


Sometimes on a hot day, when you find you kind-of-want an ice cream, what you would really benefit from is the full seaside experience. You just haven’t examined your requirements broadly enough. A Cornetto will scratch only part of the itch. Get the car out.

Too often people in organisations constrain their thinking and possibilities in the same way.  Get your teamwork and facilitated thinking right and the benefits will flow.

Last week in Birmingham at the @Midlands Business Insider automotive seminar, Matt Hawkin, from aluminium die-casting specialist Cosma UK, demonstrated this point. Specifically, he talked about getting a broad group of people involved in a Kaizen process in his Telford manufacturing facility.  

This classic Japanese methodology encourages organisations to deploy talent across-the-board in identifying and achieving continuous improvement. For Matt, Kaizen resulted in a strong resolution of the specific quality issue that had prompted it. But, as he explained, Cosma’s engaged staff members also identified, along the way, valuable productivity, footprint and EHS improvements – all as part of the same committed exercise. They then made those improvements.

More ‘methodology’, more work = more benefits.  Companies like Nestlé and nonprofit medical practice & research group The Mayo Clinic couldn’t be more different, yet both use similar approaches.   Nestle waste reduction initiatives have also improved allocation of factory space, resource utilitization and even talent; Mayo has improved practice methods, patient waiting times and record handling.

You can do this too. Drop the idea that solutions come from the department they apply to – instead, like Matt, get more people bringing their own perspective to solving ‘others’ problems.

Customer service would be a classic example – in most organisations it has become a separate department, frequently fielding complaints. So all the other ‘silos’ in the business are unable to contribute ideas about how to avoid the issues in the first place.

The key is to get your people into the right mindset. Suspend, understand and nurture insights and ideas (SUN) rather than staying in their silos, Reacting, Assuming and INsisting (RAIN).

It isn’t always second nature to us.

Why are we talking about supply chain and legislation, when we know we need a branding refresh and logo?”  That was what one client asked, really quite aggressively, in advance of a workshop run by myself on behalf of the Design Council.

But Sarah was to prove an enthusiastic convert to the process – notably after 360 exploration had raised and helped answer another 3 or 4 key issues affecting her B2B service provider.

Know what? – when your people lean in to this way of working, their minds change. And - having leaned in with that same open mind – you not only find things from the initial Kaizen challenge, you get other ideas and bigger joined-up solutions.

Now ask – why don’t businesses do this more often? I and my colleagues at Catalyst certainly wonder why. Why not more big, exciting, seaside trips and less focusing on which flavour of ice cream to buy? 

More information

Find out about how to get humans working better together in rooms here

Wednesday 6th March 2024

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