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Management Development with 0% training - a case-study

The Perfetti van Melle factory in Hoorn, just a short drive above Amsterdam, is the home of the immemorial Klene liquorice (my personal favourite, I have to admit). Several years ago a plant manager did the impossible: he brought the factory back to black figures in just three years.

After completing his mission, he estimated that he would move on to another job in a couple of years. Beforehand he aimed to foster ownership for continuous improvement, not only with the - future - plant manager, but with every manager at any level in the plant. This desire was the background to start a management development program for team leaders.

Much to my surprise and delight, he didn’t go for classroom and instructor led training, but for performance coaching, also known as organisational coaching. When we met for the first time he was triggered by my idea to develop his team leaders through 0% classroom training and 100% learning on-the-job, through first-hand experience in the workplace: a topic we’ve talked about so often in this blog.

The process started with a collective meeting of all managers at all three levels of the 150 strong factory. The plant manager, department managers and their team leaders met - a first for this plant - on one afternoon. The plant manager outlined how customers, markets and competitors were in motion and how the Perfetti Van Melle group acted on these developments. His department managers took over his reins by stating what they had in mind for their departments, given the company developments which he had outlined. The team leaders were then asked what contribution their teams could make. The proceeds of this brainstorm were corrected and supplemented by the other departments.
Within two weeks of this collective start, all team leaders had selected one personal improvement project from the possibilities that were raised during the session. Intrinsic motivation and a concrete learning question were leading factors in their choice. During the three months that the team leaders were working on these improvements, they received personal coaching by myself during their work and in their workplace.

At the conclusion of the project all department managers and the plant manager noticed a direct and measurable impact on business results. And - last but not least - the team leaders had mastered continuous improvement by doing it, by experiencing it firsthand.

This article is an excerpt from my contribution to:
van de Wiel, G., & Vermeulen, R. (2014). ‘Organiseren met Toekomst: van agile tot zelfsturing’. The Hague: BIM Media BV.

Evert presented on his approach at the 2011 Personal Learning Environment Conference in Köln, Germany

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Tags: high impact learning, performance improvement, 70/20/10, innovation, leadership development

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