Tell us a story
Undertaking change can lead to unexpected and interesting results. We’d love to hear what’s happened for you, so here we share the impact that undertaking the improvement project work has had on some of our partners.
The benefits, be it short term or long term are worth the journey for any business and its employees at all levels
For a business division such as Assets which focuses on construction related tasks, it is always challenging to develop and maintain systems and practices that assist the division to visually assess progress and performance of day to day operations. The work with Coxswain has helped consolidate internal systems and practices into a much more synchronised and scheduled operating rhythm that has now driven the Asset Division to become much more structured and disciplined in the way in which we manage daily, weekly and monthly operations.
Coxswain has helped us to step outside of the day to day grunt work for a short period of time and take a holistic view of what we do, what we must focus on and most importantly help us structure a rhythm/routine of operations that is underpinned by a discipline to maintain that rhythm under all circumstances.
The work with Coxswain can create trepidation initially however the benefits, be it short term or long term are worth the journey for any business and its employees at all levels.
A Coxswain project is focused on realising the benefits and that the leaders are equipped to deliver it
A Lean/SixSigma practitioner is really great at the Define, Measure and Analyse parts of an efficiency focused project. We get into the Improve phase and from this point things get tougher. The tools and practices part of a Coxswain Alliance project are all about Improve. Find simple solutions and operationalise them with the leaders – management led. The DMAIC process and time constraints – on a big DMAIC you’ve already been going for 6+ months – mean that we generally can’t allow for the embedding required because that takes time. A Coxswain program delivers many great things, but most valuably it dedicates 90+% of the elapsed time to managing the change. No change manager and fancy comms. people either. Coxswain Alliance works on the behaviours of leaders, and coaches them closely so they can maintain the change. An LSS practitioner isn’t generally a strong manager of change. Unlike DMAIC, a Coxswain project is focused on realising the benefits and that the leaders are equipped to deliver it.
Initially, it was hard to picture how the Operating Rhythm or Management Operating System (MOS) could fit into our current work rhythm.
With change comes apprehension and we weren’t exactly sure how this change was going to work with our team. After committing myself to the implementation and going through a number of different iterations, it’s lovely to say that we’ve finally got a rhythm and management tool that’s really working well for my team.
As a manager, I’m now setting the plan, understanding variances and what actions are needed to take to address these. I am more across with how my team is currently going, what their daily activities are and assured that the work is being done. Before the MOS, I usually would not have such a clear indication on how my team are tracking against their KPIs leading into the end of financial year. I am really proud of them for working hard and embracing the change in how we operate. More importantly, their achievements and efforts are visible to everyone in the organisation.
One of the things I really enjoy is that our MOS has brought about a more collaborative culture. It has helped create an environment where my staff are more open to raising issues and resolving them amongst each other. This project has been a positive change for both myself as a Team Leader and my team. We are planning and managing our work more effectively and it is showing the results we are achieving.
As a Team Leader, I was required to work with Coxswain quite extensively both in preparation for the MOS and during its implementation. It was initially hard to dedicate the time that was required, on top of business as usual. The Coxswain team were very understanding of this and consistently assured us that our efforts would pay off in the end. The team listened to our queries and concerns and advised us on best practice approaches. They encouraged us to change the process if any element of the model was not working for us. This provided us with the confidence that this was not a one stop approach and that it was unique to our organisation and teams. The team have fully supported us to get our operating rhythm right for us and I am very happy with our end result.
A conscious, articulated and consistent operating rhythm for planning, reviewing and improving our performance.
Before engaging Coxswain Alliance, we struggled to get sustained positive outcomes from business improvement initiatives. We now realise that the best processes and the most sophisticated systems can only ever deliver to the efficiency and effectiveness of whatever management operating system (MOS) is in place. Every organisation has a MOS, whether conscious or unconscious. We had several unconscious and un-articulated management operating systems for each part of the organisation, many of which were lacking cohesion or a disciplined operating rhythm. In addition, some managers seemed to only get involved when problems occurred leaving team members feeling unsupported and unable to interact with their manager unless something went wrong.
With the implementation of our MOS and OR, we now have visibility of our performance. We have a conscious, articulated and consistent system and rhythm for reviewing, planning and improving our performance. MOS is low-tech but highly effective. We focus on people, behaviour and a consistent way of planning, reviewing and managing work. It underpins and maximises the benefit of other hi-tech system improvements. Managers no longer manage by incident, but are intentional, engaged, proactive and supportive. Staff know their work and performance against KPIs and have a predictable frequency for interacting with their manager. As a result, we can identify problems quicker and take remedial action as required. We can distribute work more evenly because we are talking about it more frequently and we are seeing genuine improvements that we believe can be sustained and continually improved upon. We have a long way to go, but are committed to continue the practice which we know can only improve over time.
We couldn’t have introduced the MOS without the drive, clarity of process and experience that came with the Coxswain Alliance representatives who embedded themselves as virtual staff members within my team (and our organisation) over a significant period of time. They we amazing to work with and we learned so much from them. They worked hard and developed relationships across the organisation at all levels. Any scepticism over whether this would work in our context was soon quashed. The business transformation is such that we sometimes wonder how we ever did our business effectively before MOS.
I thought my team was in harmony before, but now it is humming
I just wanted to let you know how much I’ve appreciated all the effort that you have provided over the past few months in assisting my team with their MOS. Your advice has been effective in providing managers with the necessary tools to operate more efficiently.
We now regularly Walk the Floor and Huddle in individual teams and together, so that the entire team is aware of current projects and KPI’s and collaborates to achieve set goals. I thought my team was in harmony before, but now it is humming.
Again, thank you and the entire Coxswain team for finding our Operating Rhythm.
Making work visible across our business
There has been a real optimism for the project, and we have really embraced our MOS. It is a hive of activity every day with Huddles or ‘Walk the Floors’ occurring as part of our Operating Rhythm.
As I have attended team Huddles, walked the floor, and through my experiences in my own Huddle I can see the benefits our MOS has brought. It has given each team a real insight into their work, what they do, what others do and how they contribute to the overall business objectives. Our teams and individuals continue to learn about themselves as well as about other teams – they have visibility across the business.
Our Huddles are also useful in understanding why things don’t always go to plan. The ‘unplanned’ work part of our VMBs are very insightful, with the team able to provide a narrative as to where things need to be improved or what things impact on them on a day-to-day basis that change a result.
Another outcome we have seen is in relation to how we report on specific issues. We have learnt that our previous way of reporting was not producing the kind of results that were meaningful to us as a team or for me as a General Manager. Our Huddle has given us the opportunity to make changes, which means the reporting is more relevant and timely.
We are still on a learning curve but we have been willing to get our Operating Rhythm and MOS up and running so it becomes the way we do it around here.
Coxswain’s honesty and unlimited energy was incredibly helpful and infectious.
We are just coming to the end of an incredible coaching and implementation program from the Coxswain Alliance team. We had an unbelievable task ahead of us: to rapidly release untapped production capacity in the shortest intervention time imaginable.
The experience of the team and thier willingness to understand our dilema was great. They also really challenged our mindsets and assumptions – we went from being pretty defeatist to having hope that the problem would be solved utlimately if we stuck with the processes, the SIC tools and the focus and disciplines shared.
Given the short time window, we had to move fast and pulled together. Coxswain’s honesty and unlimited energy was incredibly helpful and infectious. I can see the impact on my team as they start to say, “we did it ourselves, all we needed was a little coaching.”
From top to shop floor
My initial introduction to Coxswain Alliance was during a site wide organisation restructure at a large open cut coal mining operation where Jonathan, Peter, and co. were engaged to assist site to ‘navigate the change’ and deliver the targeted productivity improvements.
What sets Coxswain Alliance apart from other consultants is their approach. They get involved in process from the top by engaging senior management, right down to shop floor level, where they utilise a hands on approach mentoring and spending time with the work teams to ensure the changes add value, target the right areas, and are sustainable.
Short interval control, and parts staging were instrumental in delivering the productivity improvements. I have since utilised Jonathan and Peter to assist with implementing short interval control and parts staging at a number of other sites which has delivered similar productivity improvements.
The insights we needed
The journey of MOS has been both such a challenging and rewarding experience. As a leader I thought I knew everything about my business however the MOS tools and principles have given me the ability to look at my business from a whole new lens.
We can now report on such a granular level which has provided us with the ability to have quality conversations with our front line staff. The leaders are better equipped to review and assess performance gaps and achievements.
I would like to thank the MOS team for all of their support throughout our journey. They were up for every challenge we threw their way and came back for more with a smile of their faces. Thank you for your sheer determination to support and assist us, you have worked tirelessly and extremely long hours. Thank you for everything!
Seeing my team reach their potential
The MOS Team has made such an incredible difference in the team and culture here – both with their insights into the management culture and by providing a really positive and calming influence.
As a new leader, it has been an incredible journey to watch unfold and I really believe that the implementation of the action plans are something that are sustainable that help drive business results as well as uplifting the operations staff.
The thing that I’ve enjoyed most about the MOS experience is really seeing my team reach their potential and be better managers. They’ve been able to develop their own skills and I think that our team overall is much better for it. We have learnt values of accountability and really following up and owning actions – something which is even aligned with the Group values!
I think the MOS journey has really brought up the standard of management and leadership to a level that would be expected and I thank Jono in particular for assisting us and being a really great desk buddy and friend throughout the process!
The itch I couldn’t scratch
My first impression of the SIC (Short Interval Control) process introduced to our maintenance team was here we go again. Another consultant mob coming in to take the cash and introduce their system, that creates more work but offers no value.
Jono was our mentor and after a few weeks I called him “The Itch I couldn’t Scratch”. He was like a dog with a bone and regardless of how disinterested or negative we were, he pushed us to change and use the SIC to improve our business performance.
The SIC process was as hard to push across our Supervisors as it was for us, however 3 months after the SIC introduction the Supervisors were seeing the benefits. Our crews were suddenly working to allocated time durations and calling in with regular updates on progress. This meant production had up to date information regarding the return to work of their critical equipment, and so minimising loss of production with machine movement.
I have now started with a new Company and happy to say that I have introduced the SIC process with positive results yet again.
Persons need to be held accountable for the SIC to work, so from the biggest doubter to greatest advocate, the process works.
Really effective people-leaders
Although our MOS program officially closed up over a year ago, it really seems like last week. It was such an intense time, getting a huge amount of work started and completed in timeframes that ordinarily you would baulk at. This is where the support and training from Coxswain more than made up for the hectic pace, with their tools and experience proving to be invaluable for us in our MOS journey.
Our team still follows most of the design as installed during our MOS program. Some things we changed, others no longer required. But at the core most of the processes and tools are still at work, and the leaders that developed during the program are still here doing their thing – driving to interval controlled, performance based outcomes.
Possibly the best thing about MOS is that it makes people leaders into really effective people leaders, and that is something I think will keep paying dividends for many years to come.
When we started MOS in our area, it was hard at the beginning, considering you are expected to do your BAU duties. The implementation of MOS fundamentals, like finding the “lost time” and the “walk the floor”, consistently allowed better engagement and productivity within the work place. Thank you team.
MOS spans continents and cultures
MOS taught me practices and behaviours that can be applied across work and life. Having been part of a very successful MOS installation I was able to carry these skills into my everyday life when my family took on the challenge of living in India.
One of our constant challenges was the food shopping. It is not as simple as walking into a ‘one stop’ supermarket like Woolworths. Fresh fruit and vegetable were purchased from our local vendors but breakfast cereal was only stocked by a store on a main road notorious for traffic jams. In a predominately Hindu culture there were only two butchers who stocked beef and both were a 2-3 hour drive away.
Some things were easy to shop for but others were quite a challenge and required planning and coordination. So applying the MOS practices not only at work but shopping became very important. Firstly you would formulate your plan, applying short interval control as you progressed through the day and then at the end of the day you would assess how you did in achieving your goals. If you didn’t plan well and adapt you would often end up having sat in a traffic jam all day and achieved little.
In a non-English speaking, culturally diverse country the Engaged Management behaviours of listening, setting clear direction and problem solving became an integral part of life.
Applying the MOS practices and behaviours helped us adapt and enjoy the truly remarkable India.
I’m a better manager
I want to thank the Coxswain Alliance people for working closely with me to understand what we were trying to achieve. They were patient, never made us feel stupid and, most importantly, understood our business. There were many times I challenged the changes that were recommended but this was never a problem. We had open and honest conversations and, more importantly, all the changes I have made to my business have been for the better.
I am a better manager, I am now leading my team, I know my numbers and I am now allocating work evenly to all my staff. Prior to Coxswain, my staff would go through our workload and pick and choose what claims they would work on. They enjoy our new way of working because everyone is doing the same amount of work. I can now be away and my staff understands our priorities for the day.
I now have the confidence to go to any business unit and implement what I have learnt from Coxswain Alliance.
Nuggets of gold
My team of business analysts supported the rollout of MOS to our claims teams through providing operational reports and insights. Although we weren’t ‘MOS-ed’ ourselves, we watched first hand the transformation occurring within the teams. Coxswain Alliance shared numerous nuggets of gold in their day to day interactions with us, and so I decided to tailor some of these tools and methodologies to introduce them for my own team.
We introduced daily check-ins which allowed me to connect with my staff more consistently and drive accountability to improve their quality of work. I also self-timed our repeatable activities which identified capacity at certain times of the week and month. This lead us to strategically plan ahead and set realistic timeframes for our stakeholders in responding to their requests.
Strategically, my team have a clearer focus on the longer term goals and the desired outcomes; operationally we have become more efficient with our time management and allocation of work; culturally we have become more aligned through transparency and accountability; and personally I feel that I have become a more effective leader in the midst of much change and uncertainty.
The science behind decisions
Partnering with Coxswain Alliance was a great experience and gave me the skills needed to become a good leader by engaging, enabling and empowering our team. It gave me the tools to prioritise and allocate work to match the team’s capacity, which resulted in successful business integration.
Working with CA gave me access to highly skilled and motivated specialists who taught me new ways of working and the science behind their decisions. They provided support and training so that I was able to actively drive change and improvement within the organisation.
Personally, Peter and Jonathan became good friends and mentors to me. They are very professional and have knowledge and business acumen across a varied market, and share their learning through interesting storytelling.
These skills can also help you outside of work. I was asked to organise maintenance and working bee at a school and using a whiteboard I was able to plan and track our progress during the day. We used estimate timings to work out how long chores would take, and reassigned tasks during the day so that all work was completed.
I Love MOS!
We introduced MOS in our business in August 2014. Personally I turned from a sceptic in the beginning to a converted very quickly, thanks to Coxswain Alliance. Since then we have realised many benefits, just to name a few:
- We achieved 29% capacity saving since August 2014.
- Our service standards have improved dramatically.
- We’ve been receiving appreciation emails from our brokers on regular basis.
- We achieved and maintained nil backlog work state.
- We used the realised capacity to uplift our people’s capability.
- Uplifted morale and reduced absenteeism.
So I love MOS, to say the least. I would recommend MOS to any business and household. I use MOS principles in my home, my 14-year old daughter is a true advocate. She uses MOS principles for her study planning.
I contribute our success to partnering with Coxswain Alliance! They are passionate, experienced and result driven. Most importantly, they care!
Making Everest a mole hill
Problem solving and change management in large teams, across a number of departments, including a number of companies, resembles Mt Everest standing in front of you. The people involved come with their own opinions, biases and ability to adopt change. Being so overwhelmed by what faced me, I struggled on how to take the first step.
My success began when I worked with Coxswain Alliance to adopt an improvement program in Warehousing & Heavy Maintenance focused on Parts Staging, which brought a number of different departments and contractor teams together in an effort to overcome an incredible amount of equipment downtime being caused by parts availability. What became apparent is Mt Everest can become a mole hill when I simply brought together the individuals from many teams, departments and companies, face to face, to have an goal focused, empowered conversation by communicating the work they were already doing in isolation from each other.
Now, as I’ve moved into a new company, these challenging problems and change management requirements emerge more regularly as I support many customers. By having proven to myself with Coxswain’s help and guidance, what seems like such an obvious approach to begin working through these challenges continues to be the most effective one.
Bring the individuals, departments and companies together and have the conversation. The time spent face to face, with the right prior preparation, is the beginning to every problem being solved, and my time working alongside Coxswain Alliance provided me with the skills and experience, and bank this for use ever since.
A MOS’d marathon
As a part of the MOS project, I have come to realise that many of the learning’s that I have gained from MOS can be applied in my personal life.
An example of this has been with my running. I am a keen runner and run 1 or 2 marathons per year. Generally speaking, when I prepared for a marathon, my planning would have been very minimal i.e. try and run as much as I could. This was giving me good results but I was well short of my goal of running a sub 3 hour marathon.
Since seeing the great results during the MOS project of spending the appropriate time to have a detailed work plan, I now sit down months before the marathon and put together a detailed training plan.
The plan includes which days I will run, length of run, speed of run including intervals sessions etc. The plan has easy weeks and hard weeks and is all based on scientific principles with the aim of maximising the training benefit.
Together with having a much more structured and scientific training plan, I also ensure I regularly review (weekly or fortnightly) my training and the results that it is providing. That is, what has gone well, what do I want to continue, what hasn’t gone well and what needs to change. This regular analysis allows much more understanding of what I need to do in coming weeks to get better and helps me adjust the training plan accordingly.
Whilst I just missed the sub 3 hour marathon in my last attempt (3:00:55), I am confident that if I keep planning and regularly reviewing my training that it wont be too long before the goal is achieved.
To a new level
In the lead up to my partnering with Coxswain Alliance I had just completed my Masters and taken an internal promotion. As far as I could tell there wasn’t a great deal more to learn. How wrong that assumption would prove to be.
My introduction to MOS took my leadership to a new level as I developed an operating rhythm that drove process efficiencies across my business. I was able to identify lost time and implement service improvements as a result of the information I now understood how to use. The MOS for me was the stitching that I needed to tie together the many other things I had picked up on my management journey.
A career highlight
The timing of the MOS project in my area coincided with me being promoted into a new role as National Customer Service Manager. Not only was I now managing a team of over 60 people, in a new and unknown area, I was also leading a 12 week behavioural and process change program.
Feeling daunted would be an understatement, however the two MOS consultants working in my area were outstanding. They were very experienced managers with extensive backgrounds and knew my head was spinning. Not only did they assist me with managing the project and leading the change, they also assisted me quickly understand my new area, provided me with insights, coaching, personal feedback, suggestions of how I could do things better and generally just watched out for me. I felt like I had 2 full time personal career coaches by my side!
The consultants worked with me and my management team. It was a genuine partnership and we formed a strong bond. Never did we feel that something was “being done” to us or we were being told what to do, but rather we were working on the business together for an improved result.
I look back on the project and see it as a career highlight and a big turning point. Not only was the project extremely successful, both in increased area productivity and customer service standards, but it provided me with a toolkit of theoretical and practical management training that has benefitted my career ever since.