Regardless of the industry, when difficult times come, good strategies can make or break the future of any of our organizations. And while designing a strategy is no small feat, I think that the implementation is certainly the most challenging process for management teams. Rallying together the company and crack silo thinking is, in my experience, a core step to truly thrive and overcome adversities.
Martin Landgren is a passionate sales guy working for Celemi in Malmö, who loves selling and delivering experiential learning solutions to his clients bringing their employees to cash awareness and big picture understanding from a financial perspective. Read about how he helped changing the mindset of the employees of one of his clients by identifying actions they could take themselves to have a positive impact on the numbers.
“Cash is key to business continuity”
I came across an interesting example of this a few years ago with one of my clients. For a while, a European aircraft manufacturer was experiencing a difficult cash situation. This was obviously impacting business and the organization needed a radical change. In 2016, the CEO together with the management team, focused the company’s attention to increasing the weight of cash as a key performance indicator and launched a strategy change towards a real cash culture.
The strategy was surely a big step in the right direction, but the management team knew that for the initiative to succeed the whole organization needed to undergo a change process: the real challenge was to enable all the employees to understand and implement this shift. I was told that knowledge about the importance of cash was there, but not all departments shared the detailed awareness of its inner workings. “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.”
This was the turning point of the change process: to communicate to all employees the sense of urgency of the situation, the organization needed people to really grasp how individual behavior can positively affect the company’s finances. With this goal in mind, the organization worked together with Celemi to design the Cashback Program, a series of seminars all starting with our Celemi Apples & Oranges™ business simulation to introduce employees to the most important financial concepts. Taking it even further, the company also involved 24 internal co-facilitators to bring 9 real cases scenarios into the sessions to get all the staff to relate to solid business examples.
The result? More divisions followed and within just one year over 3000 employees in 4 countries reached a proficient level of strategic understanding about how improvements in cash will impact the future of the entire company.
From this story, I think many can agree that an effective awareness and change management program is a great start to create a unified company culture and implement a strong strategy. However, this major aircraft manufacturer did not stop here: people not only applied the learnings from the course in their day-to-day work but were also encouraged to continuously send feedback to the management team about new ways to control cash flow.
Following this bottom-up process allowed the company to optimize their internal strengths to keep up with the market demands and make quite the comeback!
In 2018, Celemi Global is launching a knowledge sharing project with industry experts on the ongoing trends, starting with profitable growth, the holy grail of every organization.
What challenges do you face in your company when creating more awareness on the financial side of the business? How did you implement change management and deliver consistent strategy message in your organization?