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Providing Quality, Productivity and Efficiency

Providing Quality, Productivity and Efficiency

When I came back from the U.S., I went onto one of the international teams, primarily working in IT, so I was responsible for working throughout Europe and India rolling out IT developments. Left there after 12 years when I got the choice of spending 18 months on the road going around the world, off spending some time with my family, the family came first. Left GE, went to work for a company called Abbey, anybody heard of Abbey National? Yeah, a few people. I signed on the dotted line for Abbey on a Friday. I found out in the media on Monday that Abbey had been just been bought by Banco Santander.

So my career at Abbey was very short-lived-I think I had about five months there. Three of which was on Garden (ph) leave and redundancy. I then went on to join a company called Cattles that had an effect and a loan shark. Now in loan shark they basically lend money to people who cannot afford to pay it back and then go and get the money off of them by taking the property away, breaking their legs, whatever it needs to get the money back. Did not like that very much. So I joined Norwich Union, where I have been for three-and-a-half years working in the top industry, which is Norwich Union Life.

Now this brings us on to the earlier point, which is about Aviva. Aviva is the parent company of all of the Norwich Union businesses, and it is the international arm. So those of you who are not from the UK, anybody seen Aviva advertise? Now you have seen it on the ING presentation earlier because they are one of our competitors. Has anybody else come across Aviva? Shows hands. No! Absolutely nobody. Interesting!

I believe that Aviva is a company that was developed by Norwich Union purely for the purpose of giving us a global brand. Within the U.K., Norwich Union is split down into many businesses, it is a complex animal. Norwich Union Life sells life insurance, deals with investments and with bonds. So in the current climate, we are getting absolutely screwed. A colleague of mine bought 3,000 pounds worth of Aviva shares when they were 4 pounds per share because he figured they could not go any lower. About 12 hours later, they were worth 2.50 pounds. Well, I cannot do the thing-the sums are in euros, but basically he lost half of his money, and he has been on the cascade ever since.

Now what this means for the business is pretty severe, because in this kind of climate anybody who has investments very rapidly tries to take them out. So we have got a massive increase in work load and it is uncovering a lot of processes that are not perhaps quite as Lean as they should be. So there is a fantastic amount of work to be done in the Lean Sigma area that has been highlighted by the current crises.

Norwich Union Insurance is a more traditional insurance company. They sell car insurance, they sell motorcycle insurance, house insurance, often direct to customers.

Norwich Union Healthcare, which we are going to come back on to in a while, is primarily around selling health insurance, little bit like BUPA for those who know the U.K. companies. And there are many other Aviva companies around the world. One of which is Aviva Canada. Aviva Canada has a Lean Sigma team of about three people. There is also a Lean Sigma team in the U.S., so the whole of the United States, fantastically big business, big area has one Lean Sigma person based in Iowa, I believe. So that is another area for expansion for us.

Because Norwich Union is such a convoluted business and because Aviva is even more convoluted, it is very difficult to get a good view as to how many Lean Sigma type resources we have. But I can certainly talk to the bottom end of this stuff, which is over the past 18 months, me and my team have trained 52 Green Belts who come primarily from the business areas. We have trained another 10 Black Belts who were primarily internal, but we have also started training people from other Norwich Union businesses, from insurance, from healthcare, etc. And since 2004, I joined Norwich Union in 2005, and I managed to get back to a few of the old records, the total strengths that we have within Norwich Union Life is somewhere in the region of about 30 Black Belts and about 300 Lean Green Belts.

Now the Black Belts, some of them are in the central team-there are about seven or eight Black Belts in the central team. The rest are scattered throughout the various business areas, because not only do I have Norwich Union Life, Norwich Union Insurance and Norwich Union Healthcare, within Norwich Union Life we have multiple businesses as well in multiple business areas. So those 30 are scattered about as well.

As of about two weeks ago, we have stopped doing any further training of Black Belts or Green Belts, primarily because we have got enough, and it is really now up to the business to start delivering the benefits. However, we are continuing to provide coaching and mentoring to enable the people that are actually out there in the field doing process improvement projects to get the projects delivered in a proper and timely manner. That is really the main focus of what my team is doing now.

OK, the structure of the rest of this rather short presentation is based around the four questions that IQPC asked me to answer. So I put them in there as challenges. The first challenge was around getting buying from senior management and the rest of the business, providing Return On Investment in business and transactional environments. Quite a convoluted question. So I could easily avoid it, very easily as it turns out, because I think-what I have seen over the last couple of days is everybody that seems to be doing presentations, they say more or less the same thing. Yes, it is important and there are lots and lots ways of doing it, but one of the things that hit me quite a long time ago is this question of transactional versus manufacturing, and it does not really seem to make a lot of difference.

Manufacturing businesses have to have transactional processes in that they have to have HR, they have to have finance, they have to talk to customers, they have to deal with ordering, they have to deal with invoicing. So there are still transactional and service based functions within a manufacturing industry.

And so-called transactional businesses like mine, like insurance, we do produce things, despite popular belief. We produce policies, we produce reports, we produce letters, we produce credit cards. So in the end, the requirement to improve processes is the same. It does not matter, it does not matter whether they are manufacturing or transactional, the same things apply.

So as I start looking answering the question, maintaining senior management buying, and to be perfectly honest, has been an absolute nightmare. It has worked and it has not worked, and if I can purposefully click back, we had, when I first joined the company in Norwich Union Life, a very senior, very, very supportive, he was a “Head of” then, he is now a Director. And we were doing really well, we were fantastic team, very well-supported, we were getting the correct buying that we needed and things were going brilliantly. Unfortunately, because he was so good, he got promoted. So he went off to work for a different area. He was looking after us and that was a team called Process Excellence. Simon got promoted and went to look after one of the investment arms.

Well, guess what happened? We started taking a bit of a nosedive, but the investment arm went ballistic, very fantastic stuff. He rolled out process improvement within the investment area that he was in, and they were doing really well. They became one of the best teams that were actually operating within Norwich Union Life, and because he did so well there he got promoted again. And he went on to healthcare, and I would say that currently within the U.K. and within Norwich Union, the most successful process improvement Lean Sigma team is very definitely in healthcare 100 percent because they have got that buy-in. Well, no, not 100 percent because they got that buy-in, but probably 80 percent because they have got that buy-in.

The other advantage that healthcare has is that they are a single silo. So whereas my area of Norwich Union Life has about five different businesses within it, that means five different directors to handle, it means probably 15 or 20 different “Head of-s” to handle; within healthcare there is only one.

The other thing that would come out of all of this that we will be doing is that we have trained the best part of 300 people over in the past four or five years, and it is very, very clear that one of the ways to get buying is to actually let the people who do the work handle process improvements. So something that I will have back on a little bit later on is that we have become catalysts for a change, we do not actually do change, we help people change themselves, that is absolutely vital. The gains you buy in and it also solves one of the problems that I think someone have mentioned earlier around making sure that the control phase actually sticks. If people want to do the change and if the change is their idea, it will stick. So what we need to do is enable them to go about it; it makes our job easier.

It also gives this a bottom of deployment so the people at Ground Zero on the shop floor are making these improvements in doing these projects. So it leaves us to try and get the top-down support, and again that is the problem that we have in the top-down support.

What they have managed to do in healthcare is they have actually managed to get KPIs on change into the Directors and the “Head of-s” bonusable objectives. So the objectives that senior people have in healthcare, one of them is actually around process improvement, and their bonus and their success and their salary for next year actually depends on that. That gets you a fantastic amount of buying.

So much so that the plan for healthcare for next year leading into 2010 is that the process improvement team will be self-funding. So the benefits that they are going to achieve will be feeding directly into that cost, and they will basically be a self-funding entity, they are not going to be a cost on the business at all, which is brilliant.

Final thing on that slide I think is the last one, but do not get hung up on a name-Six Sigma Stigma. You mention Six Sigma and people just dive under a desk somewhere. They do not want to know, it is all about statistics, it is all about tool heads, it would not work here, it does not work in transactional environments; it is complete rubbish is a polite way of putting it. It works fine, but you cannot use the name half of the time. The same with Lean, people do not want to do Lean.

My team has been a Lean Sigma team, it has been a Lean team, it has been a Process Excellence team, it has been a Process Improvement team. Currently we are a Service Transformation team. We are doing the same things, we are using the same tools, but we are using different names. It is important that you do not get hung up on the name, it does not matter what you call it as long as you are using the tools and you are using them in the right way. So I guess basically it is a case of being pragmatic…on that one.

The second challenge that IQPC asked me to look at was embedding process improvement principles that suit the culture. A bit more challenging, but I will go through a few good things that happened to us and some of the things that have not gone quite so well.

It all started before I joined Norwich Union. So it started sometime back in about 2003, and it has been very progressive. In the early days we were looking at Lean and Six Sigma as two completely separate entities. The training was provided by two of three different external consultancies. They were training up Lean specialists, they were training up Lean Green Belts and they were training up Black Belts. The problem that they gave us was if ever we had a project we had to get rather a lot of peopling or people were deciding is it a Lean project or is it a Six Sigma project.

When I came on board, we started looking at slightly different things, and we thought that maybe we could actually combine the two together. Now the idea was, a Black Belt would be full-time employed on process improvement type projects, but the Green Belt would dedicate about 25 percent of their time to the process improvement projects within their business area, but rest of the time they will be doing their day job. Now to a large degree that has actually worked.

What Norwich Insurance also did was to recruit people like myself externally to support the central team. So now we are in a situation where we have central team with external recruited, accredited, certified and certifiable in many cases Master Black Belts and Black Belts. There are some internally-trained Black Belts but not necessarily accredited working within the business areas, and quite a lot of Green Belts are very definitely business area based. So any of the improvement work is mostly carried out by the people who work in the business, which comes back to the point I made earlier about, if the people in the business do it the people in the business own it and it will continue successfully.