How did you come to start working at Coxswain Alliance as a management consultant and now a director?
I first met the CA founders when I was a client project taskforce member for 2 to 3 major projects and became a fan of the Operational Excellence Framework (OEF) methodology, and the Coxswain Alliance approach to change, and the people I was working with. The experience brought together things that I intuitively knew made sense but for the first time packaged them in a way that I could use – the art and science of Operations management and a change approach that was based on knowledge transfer, and personal growth through coaching and feedback. It was a challenging, incredibly rewarding, and pivotal experience for me.
What advice would you give to aspiring business professionals?
Consultants, front line managers, senior leaders, business improvement specialists, squad / chapter leads, workforce planners….. everyone and anyone that will listen; be curious, have high standards, support your peers (and be nice to people), and remember why you are there – the customer.
Can you share some examples of challenging projects you’ve worked on and how you approached them.
Coming from a white-collar career, my first project work on a mining site was challenging in all the good ways. Threats are far more direct, physical, environmental risks, and behaviour.
I can walk onto an office floor, or log onto a morning team huddle / stand-up and within five minutes of observation provide a list of improvement opportunities. Walking into a mining environment required a very different approach:
1) As pre-work for the project I studied the equipment that would be in use and the various load capacities / dig rates for each, the glossary / language i’d expect to hear and what it meant, and the detailed requirements of the safety and risk management processes – a real and ever-present risk in that working environment.
2) I set up support mechanisms so I knew who I could go to to ask questions.
3) Be where the work is happening and have your eyes and ears open. An early observation was that the Supervisors (Heads Of / Senior Managers) were always in the office while the crews they were responsible for were outside on site working. From then it became important to see what was happening outside the office – that’s where the improvement opportunity was happening.
4) – Not new to this work but critical for me – support any improvement idea with data and facts. I’m not a mining engineer, but data and facts are hard to argue with.
Can you share a memorable success story from your time working at Coxswain Alliance?
Only as good as the last project…. The way the team of front line (and senior) leaders embraced the methodology and change approach from our last project was inspiring and instrumental in the project outperforming all of the performance benefits we were aiming for. From the outset they were open to feedback and ideas and then once we had some momentum they just took over. A key moment, week 7 of 14 and one of the team leads said in a weekly performance review meeting… “I’m shocked at the improvement and these numbers, when you said this would happen 3 weeks ago I wasn’t sure I believed you, and it happened so fast.” To finish the project with equally strong results in the (conveniently and coincidentally timed) all staff engagement survey – gold.
How does the company adapt to the evolving digital landscape and integrate technology solutions into its consulting offerings?
We continue to do some great work in our survey and analysis offerings that allow clients to get a broad picture of operations management capability for their businesses very quickly. We’ve used these to great effect when looking to speed up or target more specifically the change and performance opportunities during project phases.
Equally – similar tools are in use to support sustainability of projects by making visible the consistency and effectiveness of the important practices and behaviours that we develop throughout projects.
I’m still pretty terrible at riding the mute button during online meetings – constant rolled eyes at my barking dogs in the background of meetings.