Transforming Global Service Delivery: Anila’s Journey with QBS

Anila managed an international telecommunications service centre and her team faced numerous challenges. Their responsibilities included providing global customer support in multiple languages, all while working under the continual expectation to enhance service standards and reduce costs. The team faced a challenging environment with numerous new products, staff cuts, and unexpected turnover particularly detrimental due to the time required to train new hires to competency.

Anila sought to find a more intelligent approach to meet their customers’ service expectations while simultaneously addressing budget constraints.

Ineffective methodology for improvements

Traditional coaching and performance management methods, based primarily on phone statistics per agent, had been applied within the contact centre.  However, these methods were ineffective as the team was already making substantial efforts.    The problem was not the people, it was the business and management processes that needed to improve which required a lift in operational intelligence (OQ).

Anila’s introduction to senior leader training at QBS motivated her to introduce Operational Excellence leadership programs to her team. Here’s how they benefited from the programs:

  • Key managers were selected to participate in the COE program, which provided them with a structured approach to analyse their respective business areas and develop strategies to address issues. Regular engagement and challenging discussions with Anila encouraged these leaders to think at the right level. Their teams also got involved, contributing diverse perspectives to the discussions.
  • High-potential team members underwent the Introductory OE program, complementing COE activities. This approach promoted a common language, engaged teams, and facilitated more improvements. QBS also added a half day on difficult conversations – demonstrating their flexibility to meet client needs.

Not all easy

Anila’s team faced a few tough discussions when some participants didn’t complete the program. These discussions, though challenging, were necessary to ensure the right individuals progressed. Some individuals struggled to apply what they had learned—showing the importance of aligning words with actions, and the effectiveness of in-person collaborative training over online formats.

“This is a fabulous way to develop leaders and improve your business at the same time.  Future leaders can also do the program and achieve great things.  We got honest and direct feedback on how the people were going.” Anila 

If you and your team have tried traditional coaching and performance management methods, and things are still not clicking, then there might be some leadership skills gaps in your team. Check out our audit where you can quickly identify what it is here.

Soft Skills Need Hard Skills Too: Lynley Corcoran’s QBS Journey at Coles

Prior to engaging QBS, Lynley Corcoran and her team at Coles had done extensive work on soft skill development programs. These programs were highly beneficial, but they lacked the operational management skills that their operational leaders required.

Lynley aimed to address specific challenges within the organisation, including:

  1. Supporting leaders in transitioning to a new operational management model that placed people management responsibilities back with the leaders themselves.
  2. Providing recognition and qualifications for employees, many of whom lacked formal qualifications, to prepare them for future roles.

While Coles had implemented programs related to soft skills, financial management and job readiness, they had a gap in critical thinking and operational improvement skill development.

How QBS Solved the Challenge:

Engaging with QBS, specifically through the COE program, provided a structured and effective solution. Here’s how it benefited Coles:

  • COE’s 70/20/10 design initially challenged leaders, especially those without tertiary education, and some who had not finished high school. However, QBS provided exceptional support, instilling confidence in participants to complete the program.
  • Leaders emerged from the program with the ability to proactively manage both their business operations and their teams for all-round KPI improvement.
  • Several COE graduates were promoted to more significant roles.
  • The program’s extensive engagement requirements, including interaction with managers, teams, and stakeholders, had a cascading effect on the organisation. This butterfly effect contributed to tangible improvements in engagement scores, with program participants positively influencing their teams.

Key Takeaways 

Lynley highlighted the brilliance of COE’s extensive engagement requirements, noting that participants couldn’t avoid engaging with various stakeholders. This engagement had a pronounced and positive effect on engagement scores across teams. Lynley strongly recommends QBS programs, highlighting their elegant design, significant impact, and positive feedback. She suggests starting with key leverage points and influencers within the organisation, particularly those with a growth mindset.

If you like what you read here, and feel you could benefit from a chat to scope your unique situation, book a call here to chat with Anita or one of the team.

From Firefighting to Strategic Planning: Rich James’ COE Journey at Coles

Rich and his team were eager to explore new approaches and make changes, particularly in harnessing the potential of their data. He and his team at Coles were grappling with several challenges:

  • They frequently found themselves dealing with emergencies, constantly putting out fires without a clear understanding of what they were accomplishing.
  • There was a lack of measurement and no focused improvement initiatives in place.
  • They had a vast amount of data but lacked the insights needed to make informed decisions.

They hadn’t taken significant steps to address their issues. In some ways, they had begun to accept their chaotic situation as the norm.

“ I was busting for a new way of doing things.  This was it!” Rich James.

An end to the chaos

COE provided structured methodologies that Rich and his team could apply, lifting the operational intelligence (OQ) across the board. Here’s how they found solutions to their problems:

  • By fostering better understanding and communication between teams, they realigned with key internal customers, strengthening their relationships.
  • They worked together to create a simple, comprehensive 12-month plan that everyone could support.
  • COE introduced a structured approach to measuring demand, a practice they hadn’t engaged in before. This helped them grasp the extent of their ad hoc activities and time investments, enabling discussions that led to different, more informed decisions. 
  • They used the skills matrix to prioritise skill development and succession planning, feeding into Individual Development Plans (IDPs) in a structured manner.
  • The team learned to extract and analyse data using novel techniques, shifting from their usual focus on short-term data to a more comprehensive, long-term view. This approach discouraged overreacting to minor data fluctuations and, instead, honed in on the outliers, saving valuable time.
  • Regular Continuous Improvement (CI) sessions became a norm for Rich’s team, a practice he initially wouldn’t have believed possible. This evolution stemmed from the work they did during COE.
  • Tangible impacts followed, including improved KPIs in forecasting, stock availability, and engagement. They also achieved significant time savings by streamlining their processes.

Key Learnings

Rich recognised that he had been a key person dependency, hesitant to let go. Through COE, he learned to empower his team to grow, ensuring they could function independently. If you are ready to empower your team, a call with Anita and the QBS team is the right place to start!  Rich strongly recommends the COE program to any leader. He highlights its broad yet deep approach, enabling participants to apply learning directly to their roles. COE – an unforgettable experience that transforms leadership practices.

Leading from Analytics to Leadership: Matt’s COE Journey at Coles

Matt and his team operated within the workforce planning function of Coles, planning for a workforce of tens of thousands of team members. Their analytics-focused team was immersed in intricate details and grappled with an intense workload, especially given the specialised nature of their roles.

Matt was looking to transition from being primarily an analytics expert to a leader: He wanted to shift his focus from delving into the data (which was in his comfort zone) to taking on a more proactive leadership role. Additionally, he sought solutions for the team’s workload challenges, although he was unsure whether COE could provide the necessary help.

An unsustainable situation

Matt’s team had not explored alternative approaches to their workload challenges but recognised that their current unsustainable situation required a change.

Through their experience with the COE program, they found:

  • A substantial portion of their time was being consumed by ad hoc, non-core activities and they learned to say no to these distractions.
  • Recognising that rework resulted from the absence of process documentation, they committed to documenting half of their processes.
  • COE compelled Matt to step back from day-to-day tasks, allowing his team to take on greater responsibilities.
  • The skills matrix helped identify skill gaps within the team that were affecting Matt’s ability to step back, prompting targeted skill development.

The challenge (and rewards) of more work (temporarily)!

Managing time was a substantial challenge due to the team’s heavy workload—a classic catch-22 situation. Matt’s coach supported him in devising strategies to carve out the necessary time and space for the changes they needed to implement.

It became clear for Matt that, even though he held an MBA, he could learn and benefit from COE. While the individual concepts weren’t entirely new, the program provided practical, real-time application that reinforced their significance.

Ironically, for a team of data analysts, they lacked metrics for their own performance. COE enabled them to deploy their first quantifiable team performance metrics.

“It is a lot of work but it was worth it.  Any leader who needs to step back from the day to day to improve will benefit significantly.” Matt Rodgers

 If you feel like you might be ready to explore an alternative approach, book a call here to chat with Anita or one of the team.

Reviving Engagement and Leadership: Graeme Lee’s COE Experience at Coles

Graeme faced the formidable challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted his facility’s operations due to lockdowns, and isolation periods. 

Graeme’s primary objectives were to engage his team in a growth and improvement mindset and to enhance his own leadership skills, as he had not previously undergone formal training. 

Graeme faced several challenges for himself, and within his team as the Distribution Centre Manager at Coles:

  • As someone not accustomed to formal study, Graeme initially found the COE program daunting.
  • He had a fairly disengaged team that was aware of the pending closure of the warehouse.
  • There was a reactive and undisciplined approach to Continuous Improvement (CI), with top-down efforts proving ineffective.

Previous attempts to address the disengagement issue included incentives and campaigns. It was no surprise that these measures were short-lived and failed to produce lasting results.

Structured Frameworks

Participating in COE provided Graeme with a structured framework and challenged him to think differently, identifying areas where improvements were needed. He personally successfully navigated the program with the support of the business language and COE coaches. On top of that, the team and company benefitted through; 

  • The development of a business plan with clear deliverables and timelines, guided by SMART objectives.
  • Engagement of his team to provide input, leading to the formulation of new strategies for capacity improvement.
  • Utilisation of demand forecasts to drive decision-making.
  • Effective coaching using the GROW method to achieve desired outcomes.
  • Involving his team in the Continuous Improvement journey.
  • The establishment of development and succession plans driven by a skills matrix.
  • Implementation of a structured approach to meetings for improved effectiveness.

Powerful Conversations

Graeme intends to continue his learning by further developing his coaching skills, having recognised the profound impact that powerful conversations can have on desired outcomes. He is now driving individual development plans for his team to optimise skills coverage and succession planning.

He also emphasises the importance of involving the team as much as possible and as early as possible in improvement initiatives. Additionally, Graeme acknowledges that even simple changes, such as a consistent approach to meetings, can significantly enhance their effectiveness.

Graeme highly recommends COE to leaders seeking improvement. He underscores that while the concepts covered may not be groundbreaking individually, they form a cohesive framework that serves as an excellent reminder of the fundamentals often overlooked in the busyness of leadership. He believes that any leader, irrespective of their experience level, can benefit from COE if they are committed to improvement. If you feel like you might be a leader ready for the COE program, book a call here to chat with Anita or one of the team.

A New Approach: Neil Devlin’s COE Journey through Coles

Prior to Neil’s engagement with COE, he grappled with an array of challenges within his newly inherited Coles team and region. These issues encompassed a team that lacked cohesion and experience, an ‘average’ people plan, and a region ranking in the middle of the pack. Missed People & Culture (P&C) targets further compounded the difficulties, exacerbated by the absence of a clear strategy and strategic plans. Neil was tasked with navigating the complexities of a post-COVID environment, adding an additional layer of complexity to an already intricate landscape.

A New Way of Thinking

Neil’s goals were to align his team and instil a new way of thinking, particularly in light of the need for a turnaround. He aimed to transition towards a proactive approach and focus more on the business.

Before COE, Neil had inherited a relatively new team that had been adversely affected by the challenges stemming from the COVID pandemic. Existing efforts to address the situation had not yielded significant improvements.

How COE Solved the Challenge:

Participating in COE challenged Neil in various ways, prompting self-reflection, strategic thinking, forward planning, enhanced communication, and a deeper understanding of demand and capacity principles. He also gained valuable insights into succession planning and the application of the “Plan, Do, Study, Adjust” model to team management. The outcomes of this transformation included:

  • Full alignment within the leadership team and the establishment of mentoring relationships.
  • Improved regional performance, ranking near the top in delivering metrics.
  • Exceeding P&C targets with a 5 point increase in engagement.
  • Development of Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for the entire team.

“Every leader should do COE – it will transform how you and your team operate.  You won’t be able to imagine your life without it” Neil Devlin

Team resistance

Neil faced team resistance, which was rooted in both the difficult situation the team had experienced and a reluctance to embrace change.

But Neil’s COE journey equipped him with an array of useful tools and insights, such as the PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Adjust) cycle, multivote for quick consensus building, ecosystem analysis, EQ (Emotional Intelligence) self-assessment, skills matrix for identifying skill gaps, driver trees, value stream analysis, and the GROW model for coaching and mentoring.

The shift in how Neil’s team operates and the direct applicability of COE principles to his day-to-day responsibilities have been profound.

Elevating Business Operations: True problem recognition and the comprehensive solution

Tim Robinson’s organisation was dealing with several challenges within his business area, such as:

  • Reactive resourcing.
  • A cumbersome change management process for customers.
  • Neglect of operational data review.
  • Absence of a continuous improvement strategic plan.
  • Operating in DevOps phase 1.

Tim and his team were aware of the issues but didn’t fully recognise their extent until he joined the Core Operational Excellence (COE) program with QBS. Initially introduced to the program as one of the pioneers from his business area, the team hoped to tackle their challenges more comprehensively.  They wanted to move away from simply reacting to problems as they arose, knowing they wouldn’t lead to sustainable solutions.

A different lens

Participating in COE compelled Tim to step back and view his business through a different lens. It forced him to question how he allocated his time. He identified several key issues and devised solutions, such as avoiding non-value-added meetings, planning further ahead, addressing important but non-urgent matters, and documenting and sharing his knowledge.

By addressing these challenges, Tim created space to work on the business itself. This involved strategic planning, future resource planning, eliminating single points of failure, and nurturing junior team members. This allowed him to invest more time back into the business and enhance continuous improvement efforts. 

Focussing on the vision

By focussing on a vision extending beyond the current year Tim significantly reduced the time spent on immediate concerns. His COE journey had other valuable lessons too:

  • Balancing immediate concerns with future planning is crucial.
  • Empowering and upskilling teams reduces dependencies on individuals.
  • Meaningful change requires proactive action.
  • Supportive and engaged leadership is vital.
  • Peer support and collaboration are invaluable.

Proactive Results 

Under Tim’s leadership, the team underwent a profound transformation. They transitioned to a more proactive approach to resourcing, allowing for better alignment with organisational needs. Multiple initiatives were launched to streamline change management processes, resulting in substantial time savings. Enhanced data analysis capabilities significantly improved the team’s performance. On top of that, under Tim’s guidance, the chapter successfully established a strategic improvement plan for the fiscal year. Progress was made, advancing the team to DevOps phase 2. Valuable insights gleaned from these improvements led to the conversion of contract roles into permanent positions, generating annual savings of $150,000. Perhaps most notably, team engagement surged, and a culture of continuous improvement took root, fostering a dynamic and forward-thinking environment.

“Through my COE journey, I’ve learned to strike a balance between focusing on the present and preparing for the future. It’s crucial to empower my teams, reducing dependency on me and embracing change. A supportive leader plays a pivotal role, and having colleagues on the same journey for support was invaluable.” Tim Robinson

Building Leadership Excellence: Michelle’s Journey with COE

Michelle was a disciplined, data-driven leader, even before engaging with COE. However, she faced a challenge: her team of leaders didn’t share the same depth of analytical thinking. Gut feelings often dominated their decision-making processes. Michelle aimed to instil a common approach within her team, encompassing shared frameworks, language, and tools. Her leaders needed to adopt this mindset not just from her but from an external source. Simultaneously, she sought to enhance her own skills.

While Michelle had been inadvertently modelling Operational Excellence (OE) principles, it was an entirely different challenge to teach her leaders. Merely instructing them didn’t seem to drive the learnings into their hearts and minds. 

A Team Unified

The COE program through QBS, provided Michelle and her team with a unified language and refined, accurate tools. The trainers facilitated alignment among her leaders and equipped them with resources to analyse their business comprehensively and the benefits included:

  • A common language and tools fostered daily use for managing the business.
  • Identification of issues and opportunities within the business.
  • Transformation of business operations through collaboration and breaking down silos.
  • Introduction of other leaders to the Introductory Operational Excellence (IOE) program, further advancing progress and common language use.

“Every leader should do COE – I don’t know how a leader can do their job without it” Michelle.

Inclusion. Alignment. Common Ground

Michelle’s journey through COE highlighted several key insights:

  • The importance of recognising diverse learning styles among team members.
  • Identifying leaders who may resist change and assessing their alignment with the desired leadership model.
  • The value of a common language, alongside standardised frameworks and tools.

Of course, like anything it wasn’t all smooth sailing. As a senior leader, Michelle faced questions about why she took on the program.  However, she was determined to lead from the front, knowing that previous methods had not yielded the results.

Is your organisation calling out for an aligned approach to leadership? Start here with our Leadership Skills Audit and unearth the hard skills gaps in your operational leaders, and where to next. Get it here.

Unlocking Operational Excellence: Byron Brink’s Transformation Journey

Before Byron Brink crossed paths with the COE program through Quality Business Services, he found himself navigating the complexities of Telstra’s operations with a sense of uncertainty. His daily experience centred around these concerns:

  • Lack of a clear view of the delivery pipeline, focusing solely on monthly outcomes.
  • Metrics centred around historical performance rather than anticipating future challenges.
  • Overemphasis on addressing bottom performers rather than the collective business performance.
  • A complacent team, content with the status quo.

Effective ways to serve customers

Byron’s primary aim was to find more effective ways to serve Telstra’s customers, both for his team and himself.

Previous solutions such as periodic campaigns to accelerate ageing orders had not prevented new orders from encountering similar bottlenecks in the process.

How COE and IOE Transformed the Situation:

After completing the COE program, Byron realised the critical importance of data and the narrative it conveys. COE provided him with a structured approach to evaluate his business, pinpointing root causes instead of just addressing symptoms. This transformation had several impacts:

  • A focus on proactive problem-solving, anticipating issues, and driving change early in the process.
  • A reduction in the average order age from 160 days to 95 days, freeing up substantial people capacity.
  • Improved accuracy in forecasting and capacity modelling.
  • Implementation of robust improvement programs, enhancing the customer experience during the delivery lifecycle.
  • Identification of automation opportunities to streamline order entry processes.

Valuable Insights

Getting started on the transformation wasn’t easy. There were some significant challenges to overcome in the early days, such as time management and breaking the cycle of being too engrossed in daily operations to work on the business. However Byron tackled this by allocating dedicated time for his portfolios, making incremental progress daily.

Following his COE experience, Byron enrolled all his team members in the Introductory Operational Excellence (IOE) program to ensure they shared a common language and could accelerate improvements. This move, initially met with resistance by some team members, resulted in a sense of pride and accomplishment upon completion, and they experienced some standout results.  Here are some of their insights:

  • Leaders should spend more time working on the business, enabling their teams to perform effectively.
  • Management support is essential for successful transformations.
  • Collaborative approaches, sharing ideas and findings, can drive meaningful change.
  • Metrics and value stream analysis are crucial for managing and improving processes.
  • Processes are vital to ensure a consistent and repeatable customer experience.
  • Sharing the learning journey with the team fosters a culture of continuous improvement.

“I continue to apply the tools and mindset I acquired during COE to shape my business planning. It’s been invaluable in driving improvements and efficiencies.

I’ve made it a point to encourage everyone within and beyond our team to undertake the IOE or COE programs. This not only fosters a shared language but also cultivates a common understanding of operational excellence.

Furthermore, I’ve had the privilege of mentoring fellow COE participants. This experience has not only enriched my perspective but also ensured that my peers and stakeholders are equipped with the same language and mindset. As a mentor, I find immense satisfaction in helping individuals apply these principles in their work environments, connecting their experiences to the concepts of Operational Excellence (OE) and the Plan-Do-Study-Adjust (PDSA) mindset.” Byron Brink

If you are a leader ready to work on the business, rather than in it, you might like to download our leadership skills audit to find the hard skills gaps that are preventing you from stepping up. Get it here.

Revolutionising Risk: How QBS Shift the Operations Culture at a Major Bank

In a rapidly evolving financial landscape, the Risk Division of a major bank faced a unique set of challenges. Unlike other divisions that had embraced process maturity and business excellence initiatives, they perceived themselves differently. They believed they didn’t have processes; they had specialists. The result was an accumulation of requirements, reports, and actions, leading to inefficiency, especially with an ageing specialist workforce.

Before engaging with QBS, the Risk Division encountered several challenges:

  • Resistance to Change: There was resistance to viewing the Risk Division as an operational entity that could benefit from operational management principles.
  • Accumulating Complexity: Operational complexity increased with time, while little was removed or redesigned.
  • Ageing Workforce: The specialised workforce was ageing, and there was a lack of systematic operational improvements.

A culture shift was missing

Prior efforts involved appointing a specialist black belt to improve credit risk processes. While results were positive, they were limited in scope compared to the broader accountabilities of the Risk Division. What was missing was a shift in culture that would make every function contribute to operational excellence.

QBS introduced a structured approach to address the barriers within the Risk Division. The journey began with a three-pronged approach:

Leadership Engagement: QBS conducted introductory sessions for senior leaders, who then selected candidates for the COE program within their teams.

Collaborative Leadership: One leader partnered with an operations management specialist to demonstrate the potential improvements, achieving quick wins.

Customisation and Co-Design: Recognising that the standard program wasn’t entirely suitable for Risk’s unique processes, QBS adapted by emphasising skills and tools relevant to Risk’s operations.

Key Outcomes and Learnings

The Risk Division underwent a transformation that led to remarkable outcomes:

  • Business maturity scores that quickly rose to be amongst the highest in the organisation.
  • A 25% uplift in productivity.
  • A 6% reduction in rework.
  • Capacity savings of approximately $1 million through process standardisation and role realignment.
  • Additional savings of $250,000 by investing in continuous improvement within a year.

Key takeaways included the growing understanding of operational and business excellence within Risk. Operational goals became an integral part of their language, with 80% of leaders actively participating in training and selecting candidates for improvement initiatives.

This won’t work here!

Not unlike many other organisations QBS has led through this leadership transformation, several barriers had to be overcome to achieve this outcome.

Changing belief systems, such as “Risk doesn’t operate processes” and “this won’t work here – we are different.”

Securing funding through negotiations and involving leaders in candidate sponsorship.

Maintaining credibility through QBS and the coaches, who facilitated issue resolution and prioritised impactful tasks.

The success of their transformation journey underscores the value of addressing business needs, overcoming belief barriers, and obtaining strong stakeholder engagement. A “leader-led and professionally executed” program was crucial, with QBS and COE coaches playing pivotal roles.

It was a revelation how beneficial this was to the division

The Risk Division’s experience demonstrates the transformative power of QBS’s operational excellence program. By addressing belief systems, fostering leadership engagement, and focusing on high-impact initiatives, they achieved substantial improvements, making operational excellence an integral part of their culture and operations.

“I would recommend COE to anyone who runs a team and wants their operation to improve, even a small team of three or four professional services will benefit from this approach. It was a revelation how beneficial this was to the division, contributing to engagement and collaboration as well as tangible business outcomes.” Jo Cunningham (Head of Operational Excellence Risk)

If you are a leader ready to work on high impact initiatives and address the belief systems in your team, you might be ready to book a call with QBS here.