Seven is a lucky number

Sharon Collier, head of retail training at high street food retailer
Somerfield Group, explains how a seven-step process is helping to instil
continuous improvements at Kwik Save

Performance Improvement Training
Designed and delivered by: Boxwood Group, 1200 Century Way, Thorpe Park,
Colton, Leeds LS15 8ZA
Phone: 0113 251 5111
Fax: 0113 251 5555

When the Somerfield Group first employed Boxwood eight months ago, we were
looking for assistance in taking a step change in performance within our Kwik
Save business. After an intense period of consultation between the two organisations,
the resultant solution, Energise, is already reaping dividends.

A key goal of the project is sustainable business improvement through
equipping Kwik Save employees with a universal method that allows us to walk
into any business situation and rapidly home in on opportunities for
performance improvement. We are taught how to size-up these opportunities, gain
commitment to taking action and how to turn ideas into bottom-line results.

The training is helping to instill a culture of continuous improvement aimed
at benefiting all aspects of the business’s operations such as shrinkage,
availability and promotions and marketing.

It is already giving us some great results, but why did we decide to
‘energise’ our business and how did we do it? With 681 stores and over 16,000
staff, Kwik Save is recognised as the UK’s biggest discount supermarket
offering customers quality in big, well-known brands, choice and value in high
street locations.

But with the intense nature of competition within the retail sector, we
realised that Kwik Save needed to become more cost effective and to be able to
initiate projects that would produce exceptional results in short timeframes.

This is easier said than done, but with Boxwood’s proprietary training tool,
Process 7, we have been given a simple, universal approach that allows us to
rapidly assess a business situation, produce and sell a plan of action and
deliver measurable results.

Staff from our support centre in Bristol attend a three-day residential
course to be taught Process 7, alongside divisional executives for Kwik Save’s
regions. Training is delivered there on a monthly basis and progressively
involves more staff.

Boxwood head of learning Anthony Greenfield explains the procedure: "We
were very keen to get people off site into a new environment where they would
work with colleagues from other areas of the business. This in itself was
crucial in creating strong working relationships with a diverse group of people
across the whole business," he says.

Role playing

"A highlight of the course are the role plays. One involves a simple
orange juice bottling line used to give participants first-hand experience of
observing a real process and interviewing production line staff, who are played
by the instructors. It is this sort of intervention that enables people to take
immediate action to improve performance in their area of the business on
returning to the workplace," he says.

All of us who have been on the training course agree that it is tough and
challenging. It encourages people to abandon preconceptions about what is
possible in business performance improvement, and inspires them to adopt a
positive self-belief in achieving goals beyond normal expectations.

"Participants learn that success comes from a combination of gaining a
deep understanding of processes and cost drivers, and bringing people on board
by involving them in the process," adds Greenfield. "Managing the
human side of change and working at pace are also critical. Ultimately, it all
about one thing – results. Achieving tangible business improvement is what
drives the process from start to finish."

The first three steps of Process 7 are all about discovery. Our people were
taught how to unearth opportunities for business performance improvement, and
then how to create a compelling argument for taking action to realise them.

Achieving consensus

Steps four and five taught us about consensus, which Boxwood defines as
effective communication of business performance opportunities and gaining
commitment to delivering them.

This part of Process 7 is vital. Without being able to gain consensus, all
preceding work is worthless. We take time to ensure that our teams understand
how to deal with resistance to change and how to gain commitment to a future

Once consensus has been achieved, Process 7 moves into steps six and seven,
mobilisation. This is about taking action with a positive ‘can do’ attitude and
then measuring the results.

We want to develop a culture that is completely results-focused. This final
step ensures the tangible and intangible benefits of all projects are measured
and monitored to ensure objectives are delivered and lessons learned.

Through Process 7 we now have an easy-to-use, universal performance
improvement tool which we can apply to any aspect of the Kwik Save business. We
are well on the way to developing a culture of continuous performance

Collier’s verdict
Food for thought

The energise training has had great feedback and generated some impressive
results.  We are sure it will continue
to do so.  One of the key goals of the
project is to establish the skills and tools for continuous improvement within
Kwik Save and improving the three key areas of people, process and technology,
will only have a positive effect.

Ability to meet business needs   * * *
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Key * = disappointing * * * * * = excellent


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