BAE Systems Anniston Boosts 6S Outcomes with PBL Foundation

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BAE Systems Anniston discusses how Process Based Leadership® provides them with a solid foundation for site-wide improvements in communication, accountability and continuous improvement.

The Challenge

BAE Systems fully embraces the Lean/Six Sigma approach in all facets of their business.  They have shown significant improvements in the manufacturing environments and work spaces for safety, housekeeping, productivity and utilization of space. At BAE Systems Anniston, the challenge was to extend those gains to include efficiency, teamwork, elimination of waste, and also improve overall performance in the offices like they had seen on the shop floors.

Due to a lack of non-negotiable, minimum standard operating processes, a site-wide assessment revealed:

  • Senior Leaders each had their own style, which resulted in confusion and an unclear message
  • Meetings often started late and had key personal missing resulting in poor communication
  • A need for standardization of meeting agenda topics and meeting frequency
  • Meetings were often cancelled when the leader was not able to attend due to a lack in processes on how to conduct meetings without their presence
  • Inconsistent use of action logs, in many cases decisions were not being captured and communicated resulting in lack of completion of critical tasks
  • Several different scorecard formats existed, which made is nearly impossible for data to be accurate, trusted and useful for decision makers
  • Only 24% of employees could explain how metrics were being calculated and how those metrics could be impacted by their work
  • Only 16% of employees indicated consistently using scorecard results to develop new processes and improvement opportunities
  • An overabundance of data with no consistent root cause analysis process to drive decisions and corrective actions
  • A lack of a formal behavioral expectations process leaving leaders with the challenge of delivering feedback and reviews without supporting data

The Solution

Beginning with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), CSI delivered several days of Process Based Leadership® Business Bootcamp training.  The SLT devoted their focus on the creation of a formal communication processes to be modeled and replicated in all departments at all levels.  The communication process calls for standardization of Home Team meetings.  Each Home Team now follows the same agenda, which would cover, at a minimum, a review of current actions, a review of scorecards, employee recognition, and a “pass-up/pass down process” for distributing critical information. 

Additionally, they clearly defined ground rules for when, where, how, and how often meetings needed to be held.  A site-wide communication “waterfall” chart was created so that Senior Leaders knew exactly when each team would be receiving key information each week. “The use of PBL in all of our meetings has increased the level of employee engagement throughout the organization.  All employees are staying informed of the status of all metrics on their team’s scorecard, as well as the Site’s scorecard.  Information is now routinely passed down, across, and up the organizational chain.  PBL is certainly helping us to change our culture, for the better, and we all know how difficult it is to change the culture of an organization.” explains Charlie Redmon, Operations Manager, Vehicle Upgrade & Overhaul

To overcome challenges with accountability, each Home Team meeting begins and ends with a review of their Action register which includes all current and open “actions.”  Each action states what is to be done, by whom and a specific target date for completion.  Discussion centers on those actions due at the time of the meeting.  This allows for meeting efficiency and the problem-solving to take place outside of the meetings.  Max Dodd, Anniston Forge Manager of Operations, states, “PBL has allowed us to consistently run our meetings at higher levels, thus allowing us to elevate the overall execution and performance as well.  PBL promotes synergy in communications and similar expectations across the site.”

With an eye on increased awareness and overall efficiency, BAE Systems Anniston also installed Visuant® software to automate all of their processes.  The software allows for Home Team members to track updated, accurate metric scores along-side their assigned corrective actions.  Users are also able to view and discuss critical “pass-down” communication items from the SLT.  All meeting minutes and notes are also recorded for future review.

The Results

Approximately 18 months after initial PBL implementation Competitive Solutions, Inc. was invited to return and conduct another formal assessment of the BAE Systems Anniston from top-to-bottom.   Survey results show vast improvements across the four major categories of Communication, Business Focus, Accountability, and Behavior.

The entire Anniston site had made significant strides in improving the way the business is being run.  There is now a common vocabulary, standard Home team meetings for communication, a common format for team scorecards, and action registers are used by every team and are reviewed in every meeting.

Measurable Improvements

Everyone is on the same page.  With the standardization of meeting agendas and the adherence to the Communication Process, there was a 30% average increase in respondents answering “always” on questions confirming communication effectiveness.  One such question regarding the sharing of best practices produced a 55% increase in “always” responses.

Knowing the business results.  Survey results dealing with the use of scorecards and performance showed a 60% increase in “always” answers by employees.  Clearly, more employees are now aware of the metrics being used to measure performance against the stated goals.

A more engaged workforce.  Now that communication is better and scorecards are consistently used for all teams at all levels, there has been a 79% increase in “always” responses regarding survey questions on accountability and a commitment to due dates.  Employees now have the ability to accept tasks, complete those tasks, and affect metric scores without the need for constant reminders by their leader.

New behaviors.  From top-to-bottom employees have shown a change in their behaviors and how they perceive the way decisions are being made in running the business.  A positive increase of 38% was shown in the follow up assessment with regard to how employees see their leaders’ understanding of the business, how issues get resolved, and how employees on multiple levels interface to produce positive results.

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