Local Leadership

Developing local leadership skills to change the organisational culture.

Local Leadership in Action

This post is about people developing local leadership skills, and so changing the organisational culture.

The company, for which they worked, had embarked on a significant change programme. Already successful as a specialist product supplier to the civil nuclear industry, the company elected to gain Fit for Nuclear (F4N) status  .

This involved an initial gap analysis between current activities and practices, and the standards required to gain F4N status.  From this analysis an action plan was created. This involved everyone in the business, from the design and manufacturing team through to the board of directors. Now read on to find out what they did and how they did it.

defining and driving change

Management and leadership were traditional with managers and supervisors overseeing and coordinating daily routines. Directors did regularly ‘walk the floor’ and talk with staff, however this was ad-hoc.

The central element for defining and driving change was a method call Goal Deployment (also known as Strategy Deployment or Hoshin Kanri). The structure is shown in figure 1 (from LeanMap ®)

Figure 1 Goal Deployment Structure
Figure 1 Goal Deployment Structure

Over four months the directors, managers and staff developed the values, vision, and mission of the business. These were owned by all staff as agreed and credible, not just ‘ticking the box’!

strategic objectives

New strategic projects were drawn up for a rolling, three-year plan. This plan could was to be measured against agreed strategic objectives. Some projects were owned by the board, such as new product development and new markets. Others were the responsibility of local teams and departments. These objectives were posted on Process Performance Boards (Figures 2 and 3) and this communication method was a significant part of the successful change.

Figure 2 Strategic Objectives

Local team projects

Local teams created projects that would contribute to the overall objectives. In achieving this, in a structured way, the Supervisors undertook training and coaching in Continuous Improvement methods. The Managing Director described this as “Giving the teams the tools and methods in really owning and measuring their processes, and then taking local decisions for running the process and making improvements

Figure 3 Process Performance Boards and Local Leadership

One Supervisor, Terry, picks up the story of change, ‘My job is now leading and coaching the team in improving our processes. Before it was more about coordination and making sure the products were shipped on time. With the process improvements we have identified and implemented, the on-time shipment and maintaining quality becomes far easier. Also, people’s working lives are far more interesting as they really do have responsibility for the daily activities. As we measure everything and discuss this at the weekly Process Performance meetings, it’s a real motivator for us all in seeing our part in the overall company performance.  Alongside this, for me personally, it’s great to have picked up new skills and my daily work-life has changed from ‘telling’ people what to do, into coaching my team


The Managing Director sums up, “….it’s been a big task, far bigger than we ever thought it would be. Is it working? Most definitely yes. As local teams are managing and driving their daily activities, managers are now spending more time on strategic projects such as supply chain management, developing new products and going after new business. Has it been easy? No, there has been hiccups. We’ve come a long way and have a long way to go. Is it worth it? Yes, but be prepared for the long-haul in developing a new culture.

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