Imagine if your employees were 100 percent engaged. Imagine a culture where the entire workforce used data to drive decisions.* Imagine if your workforce embraced a structured process that would sustain gains and foster continuous performance improvement.* Imagine achieving your goals.

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CFAN, a San Marcos, Texas-based partnership between GEA (General Electric Aviation) and SNECMA, was poised to start a journey when their President, Ben Cloutier, imagined all that and more. He envisioned a Continuous Performance Improvement program that would deliver exceptional results. Judging from the results, CFAN’s teams have achieved their goals and their journey continues.

The Advantages of Continuous Performance Improvement Programs

Continuous Performance Improvement (CPI) is now commonplace in organizations. From large, public companies and small municipalities to the healthcare industry, organizations of all shapes and sizes are using CPI programs to enhance operational efficiency because it is an exceptionally strong competitive advantage. However, not all programs are created equal.

Tool-oriented programs provide the necessary tools to become more efficient, but they often lack employee engagement and buy-in. Problem-solving programs may focus on the problem at hand, but are limited in the amount of structure and process they offer. CFAN’s employee-oriented CPI program is a blend of existing internal programs and the expertise of The Dorsey Group, an external High Performance Work Team provider. While the CPI programs that Ben had worked with previously were good, he was looking for “something different.” He wanted a program that:

  • Had structure
  • Was data driven
  • Encouraged communication and education
  • Engaged his employees
  • Gave employees the opportunity to succeed
  • Would help identify the next set of leaders

“We invested considerable time and efforts into finding the right partner to accompany us on our teaming journey,” said President Ben Cloutier. “We found that The Dorsey Group distinguished itself by offering a structured, comprehensive and systemic approach to teaming.”

Inda Woodhead, Continuous Improvement Manager, explains: “The basic improvement tools are used by a variety of companies, but the fact that we continuously bring updated information, methods and engaging tools via the experts [The Dorsey Group] allows us to improve what we have and add new techniques, which is how we ensure the success of these programs (in any industry).”

Operating With 100% Employee Engagement

CFAN utilizes High Performance Work Teams (HPWT) as the engine for engagement. By investing in their employees’ training, CFAN was able to empower their teams and provide the culture, structure and processes to deliver results. Because the employees have a better understanding of the business and their processes, their suggestions are encouraged and their input is sought. This structure also includes a successful on-boarding process for new employees as well as recognition for highly-motivated and talented employees.

100 percent employee engagement on a daily basis became reality for CFAN. Their CPI program encompasses all levels and operating functions of the organization.

“Having current information available when working with my team to improve our internal issues makes a big difference in the way we communicate and perform. We have accountability, which is important because we all depend on each other. I want to know if I missed something,” explains Yolanda P., I Care Coordinator.

Metrics are established, expectations set and are communicated and evaluated by the team members. Employees are engaged, have ownership, accountability and they know what to expect.

Let Data Drive Decisions

Instrumental to CFAN’s success has been adopting a culture where the entire workforce uses data to drive decisions. Ben Cloutier’s research and design of his envisioned programs included this very feature.

“Having up-to-date inventory levels helps us determine overtime needs in conjunction with PA [Production Associate] Logistics, which ensures we have the right number of PAs available and are able to make plans in case we need more hands. The employees themselves plan for these events,” explains Ragan C., Business Leader.

“A data driven program allows our employees to understand what is driving the business. They are able to relate to their area and jobs, contribute to improvements and have unity of purpose,” said Ben C., President.

Data separates the noise from the real issues and provides a way to monitor and track results/ROI. Using data to drive decisions saves organizations dollars and has a direct impact on the bottom line. It also improves communication, sets expectations and creates priorities. Data allows a company to “focus on the significant.”

Structured Processes Leave Room for Innovation and Continuous Performance Improvement

Constructing and implementing a structured process has given CFAN the ability to see and sustain results, while continuously forging ahead with new improvements. CFAN’s team members are not satisfied with status quo; they want to create innovative solutions that allow them to remain competitive in today’s marketplace.

Tim Dorsey of The Dorsey Group, who implemented the High Performance Work Team rollout at CFAN, states, “In today’s competitive environment, maintaining the status quo isn’t enough. If you’re not continually improving performance, you’re not just stagnant—you’re moving backward.”

CFAN follows this concept by continually updating, refining, enhancing and adding onto their program to push the limits of progress. Continual audits of the program allow the CPI program to monitor and correct issues as they surface.

“Having training tailored to our needs is very important. I like it because there is always room for improvement. Our standard methods ensure consistency in all we do,” said Yolanda P., I Care Coordinator.

CFAN has seen dramatic improvements in all aspects of its operation including production, cycle time, cost reduction, on-time new product layout and on-time delivery—just to name a few.

“High Performance Work Teams have helped us work better together. We work smoother with the other shifts and there is better communication,” explains Doug K., Production Associate.

All employees are trained and understand what they need to do and why. Through metrics, the company tracks productivity, safety and quality, and uses that data to make decisions.

“My favorite tool is the All Seeing Eye because we all can see our daily progress. It impacts everybody and people feel better about their job,” says Doug.

The CPI department continually finds ways to improve and enhance their programs.

“We work with employees to determine different ways of obtaining information that will allow them to reduce or eliminate issues that prevent them from doing their job. Depending on their area of expertise, we’ll also discuss what kind of training they need. Refresher classes on the tools we use are also beneficial to employees and teams. Everyone looks forward to learning new techniques and practicing what they have learned,” says Inda W., Continuous Improvement Manager.

Investing in the Whole Team Creates Radical Improvements

CFAN was the recipient of the GE Aviation Supply Chain Teaming Award in 2014. This award showcases and rewards their employees’ efforts and successes. It demonstrates that a thoughtfully-crafted program focused on culture and behavior outperforms replicating existing internal programs as well as how critical it is for management teams to be progressive and not accept status quo.

Ben Cloutier, CFAN’s President, had the foresight and vision to address all these issues. Even still, CFAN’s journey was well-planned, not an overnight success. It was creating a culture of high-performing teams that use data to drive results utilizing a structured process.

CFAN has a committed Continuous Improvement Manager and employees that are trained and educated to propel CFAN—and themselves—to the next level.

“We went beyond investing in the tools and management and supervisors; we invested in all of our employees and it has paid off,“ says Ben.

Engaged, empowered employees are the critical success factor in those organizations seeking exceptional results to achieve their goals. Imagine your ideal CPI program. What would it deliver? What would your goals be? How can you make your CPI program exceptional?