How One Chart Can Trigger a New Performance Culture

by Stacey Barr

When teams see how their actions can make a difference to even a single KPI, it can trigger a new performance culture.

Our idea is meaningful performance measurement. Credit: wildpixel

Buy-in starts with measure ownership, but it doesn’t end there. It’s one thing for a team to create their own performance measures and feel that ownership. But it’s another thing entirely for them to develop the habit of using those performance measures, and create a performance culture.

Ayça Tümer Arıkan is a licensed PuMP Contractor in Turkey, and one of her clients is a factory that manufactures products for the medical sector. Many of the factory’s production teams didn’t have any experience with measuring performance, but management wanted to change that. Ayça introduced two of the teams to PuMP, to develop their own performance measures.

In our first case study with Ayça, we learned that the production teams’ first experiences with measurement, through PuMP did go very well. But as Ayça says, in a follow up case study, daily routines can take over again:

“I think at the beginning what was missing was more communication and dialogue around measures in their daily routines. Even though they have designed their own measures and they had buy-in, it’s easy to turn back to your daily lives if you don’t start actually using those measures.”

One solution the production teams tried was to set up a monthly review meeting, to have a deliberate dialogue about their new process measures. And, as Ayça describes, this stepped up the buy-in even more:

“I realised the most obvious sign of ownership, when during one of those review meetings, we were talking about a potential performance signal that we observed in one of the production process measures.”

The measure was the Number of Defects per Product, and it showed that the production team’s actions did decrease the defects:

XmR chart of the number of defects per product

You’re looking at that last measure value, aren’t you? The production team noticed it too, and Ayça explains:

“They were able to dig into their process to identify the underlying root cause, and they took the appropriate action… but it suddenly increased in March. And with a closer look, they were able to identify the problems with the highest impact. And I think now they’re taking actions that will make the shifts in a more permanent way.”

The purpose of measuring was clearly about learning and improving, for this production team. And with this single measure, the factory’s new performance culture was triggered. Ayça observed, first hand, the changes that rippled out from this one measure of performance:

“First of all, the content of [the strategic team] quarterly management review meetings with their senior management has changed… they started to review their strategic goals and their related measure performances as a major part of the agenda. And the measures have the power to highlight the performance gaps and help focus the discussions in those meetings… And with the more frequent strategic team meetings, the dialogue between different process owners around measurements has increased… And finally the production teams’ own meetings moved the conversation to the lowest level in the organisation, and that is probably the most important change.”

This is how a performance culture is created: by an organic building of buy-in that comes from seeing how a good performance measure can give a team the power to improve a result that is strategically important.

***

In our full interview, Ayça Tümer Arıkan goes into detail about how this one performance measure triggered a new performance culture in the factory…

“Observing an improvement signal in measures is one of the best ways of making leaders believe in the process.” – Ayça Tümer Arıkan
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