In 2008, Lutz Bertling, Airbus Helicopters President & CEO, shifted the company’s attention from EBIT and profitability, to instead increasing the weight of cash as a key performance indicator. He also decided to launch a change towards a real cash culture.
But how did Airbus Helicopters manage to get all employees to understand how they have a direct impact on the company’s cash position, how they proactively contribute to and drive cash flow, and how generating cash is well within their scope of activities?
The answer was Celemi Apples & Oranges™ – a hands on business simulation to demystify finance. “We have discovered that everybody understands what cash is, but when it comes to the real drivers – working capital, accounts receivable, inventories and the like – people don’t share the same understanding,” Mr. Prunet says. “They don’t see where their individual actions have an impact on the cash they have.” The solution was to train one third of the employees. In the first year of implementation, more than 2 000 employees had gone through Celemi Apples & Oranges in France, Germany, Spain and Australia, and the roll out continues.
With sessions of 40 to 80 people, from all Directorates and from all levels, mixed by tables of four, each participant can see that he or she has hand in the company’s cash position.
—Bernard Prunet , Vice President ESPRIT Project Airbus Helicopters