To gain support for improvement in any area of business, it is critical that the appropriate group of senior stakeholders understand the area sufficiently well to be able to take appropriate and timely decisions.
In a previous article How big a risk is your packaging labelling and artwork capability? I discussed the significant risk and complexity involved in packaging labelling and artwork. The complexity of the area is often underestimated, involving not only technical, but also significant people and political elements. To work successfully, a typical packaging labelling and artwork capability needs to coordinate activity across many functions, locations and different organisations.
If we consider areas such as supply chain management or engineering for a moment, there is a well established mechanism for everyone involved to get the necessary education in the business processes in order for them to readily understand the big picture and equip them to make effective decisions. Unfortunately, the specialist and cross-functional nature of the end to end packaging labelling and artwork capability means that this sort of business education is not yet available.
The typical evolution of packaging labelling and artwork capability in an organisation often means that it evolves in a number of functional or geographic “solos”. Whilst those involved in the process understand their area of it, senior management often lack a comprehensive overview and understanding the end to end capability. Unfortunately, without an end to end understanding and governance of the process, decision making will often be sub-optimal at best.
A technique that we have found successful in tackling this issue is to bring the small group of senior stakeholders together for a small number of sessions to explain:
- Why is this area important
- How errors in packaging labelling and artwork can happen
- What a comprehensive capability looks like to manage the area effectively
- What performance management should be in place
- The role of effective change management in this highly people centric area
To be successful, this has to be explained in a manner, and using language that senior management understand. Furthermore, the message also should be put across by experienced senior managers who have credibility with the stakeholder group and, ideally, experience of working across a number of organisations.
Bringing the key stakeholder group together is important for this activity as it allows them to discuss the topic together and form a common understanding in the context of their own organisation.
It can also be powerful to combine this activity with feedback from a capability assessment, which I discuss in a related article. This allows the stakeholder team to immediately move into an improvement planning activity should that be necessary.