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Driving global transformation through operational excellence.

Willis Towers Watson shared their approach to operational excellence, and how it has underpinned a broad global transformation, at the latest Service Excellence Network event.

Our visit coincided with the last few months of a three year project which has improved client service, reduced the cost of doing business, and enabled growth.

This programme of change has been notably large-scale and complex, covering 23 countries and supported by training in five languages to over 800 delegates.

By analysing the operational maturity of their sites using our Operational Excellence Index they have tracked their results, with re-assessed sites showing an average improvement of 70%. It has also been used to identify areas of best practice which can be shared across the organisation.

We worked with Willis Towers Watson to design and deliver bespoke training and coaching through the Operations Development Programme. With over 800 delegates trained to date, the course has been an integral part of the transformation. It has provided Willis Towers Watson with a core team of improvement professionals, who will provide sustainability and independence as the business moves through the transformation project and into new challenges.

Their key advice included:

  1. Don’t start big. Establish the basics and get it right before scaling up to ensure change is delivered in a thoughtful, robust and sustainable way
  2. Link training, coaching and implementation together. All managers were trained to support the change, allowing them to encourage a colleague-led transformation across the business
  3. Adapt to cultural differences – one size does not fit all in a programme of this scale, so it was important to take the time to understand the business problems before creating value-add solutions, confident they will stick

 

OpEx in action

During the day we visited the GB Claims and Reinsurance departments to hear directly from their teams about new approaches to work. From planning and capacity management to visual communications strategy and operations management, they discussed the impact operational excellence has had on their activities.

“It was very encouraging to see and speak with people who are actively using skillsets and tools that are often talked about but not often seen used in practice quite as thoroughly.”

We saw how the introduction of ‘killer KPIs’ brought a clarity of focus, how knowledge was shared through Quality Partnership and Continuous Improvement Forums, and the introduction of new measures to capture low volume, high complexity tasks.

Hands-on learning

Network members also took part in a strategy execution business simulation, led by Ken Thompson from Dashboard Simulations. Teams competed on pricing, market development, business strategy and strategy execution to steer their team to a successful net profit.

Collaboration between teams was an essential factor for success and demonstrated the tricky balance between business competition and collaboration.

After the simulation each team shared some of the key lessons from the simulation, including:

  • Make a bold decision and live with it – don’t try to undermine your original decision
  • The benefits of clear role allocation from the beginning
  • Be clear on what your business is doing, and why
  • The importance of timing when taking risks

The Service Excellence Network

The Network is a group of around thirty service-sector organisations who meet quarterly to network, learn from expert speakers and share best practice. Each meeting is hosted by a different member, providing exposure to different solutions to often common problems.

For further information get in touch.

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