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Route to Market & Supply Chain Blog

FMCG: Time to review unnecessary roles and processes

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Mar 17, 2021

I think we all agree that life will never be the same again after COVID-19 has dealt a stunning blow to humanity. While the horrendous death toll is a modern day calamity, the pandemic provides an unavoidable opportunity to do things differently both at home and at work, whatever your sector of interest.

If you have been dithering about making change or really do not know what has to change for success, now is the time. You will (hopefully) never experience such a strategic discontinuity opportunity in your lifetime. What you change for the better now can have a profound effect on the future of your life and business.

fmcg-roles-in-postThis brings me to my kitchen sink. There is nothing special about this sink or more specifically, the drainage system. Grey plastic pipes with drain outlets for the sink and a dishwasher and the usual u-bend to keep all that is gaseous and noxious on the other side of the wall. The pipework was installed as part of the overall kitchen works and I had paid little attention to it until one morning the kitchen floor resembled a dirty puddle. A leak had ensued.

After a short paddle I was able to see from where the water was leaking and being a chemist….....I decided to remove all of the plastic tubing, give it a good clean and then reinstall. Of course, when I came to replace the pipes I could not get everything to line up again and every test resulted in a leak. After a pause for thought, it hit me. There was far too much pipework for the drainage of 2 infrequently used waste streams; it was hellishly complicated.

The original installation was quite expensive and now I know why – unnecessary job creation to rip off the gullible chemist/customer. Looking at the task with renewed vigour, I removed all 9 (nine) pieces and successfully re-installed only 3 pieces of existing plastic. Easy to assemble and most importantly, leak-free.

Throughout 2020 (which seemed about 24 months long) companies and people had to work differently to survive. Work from home and online meetings were just 2 of the changes which are with us to stay but there were some more subtle adjustments.

1. Fewer meetings. The novelty of attending a video meeting in shirt, tie and shorts (or perhaps less) soon wore off. I found that colleagues were more inclined to pick up the telephone and sort out issues 1 to 1 and far faster than sitting through a lengthy, yawn-inducing PowerPoint session.

2. Shorter meetings. Unlike physical meetings where people are content to sit and not contribute, colleagues came in and out of the video meetings for their particular topics or agenda items. I am always amazed and then irritated that people could sit for hours in meetings until their one word contribution became relevant. Rather like a musician whose only task is to tickle the triangle right at the end of the piece – their only task.

3. Fewer attendees. The stark image of so many employees on the video mosaic brought it home that too many people are taking part in decision making events. If they are not making decisions and not bringing information then what are they doing? Far too many people are treading water, doing just enough, keeping on the periphery of the radar. These are the people that appear to be working after hours but are only tapping away at domestic tasks or Angry Birds on their PC or smart phone.

All sectors have been severely impacted by the virus but all in all, business seems to be happening in a far more orderly, rapid and simpler way. This leads to a painful opportunity but one you should consider. Put simply, there are people, roles and processes in your company which contribute less than 100% and should be removed. In addition, there are inappropriately designed IT packages in place to sustain such waste and lack of action.  This is simple job protection/creation/maintenance and I believe it is rife, particularly in CEE and particularly in family/PE operations.

Although this horrible virus has already brought a terrible human toll and we must always put people first, it has also given every CEO the opportunity to take a critical look at end to end company processes and the associated organisation charts.

You want people, roles and processes which move the business along at a fast pace and not convoluted and unnecessary diversions which delay tasks in a haze of fog.

Tags: Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Supply Chain, CEE

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