“What do you mean, our order is ready?” Cynthia sputtered into the telephone. “You people never deliver on time.”

Cynthia worked for in purchasing for Hallidon 7 (not their real name), a large technology company. They had a lucrative deal going with a chronically under-performing supplier.

At first the CEO of Hallidon 7 was all for dropping this supplier and looking for another. But Cynthia managed to produce a far more devious plan.

article-2148754-024DBB62000005DC-331_634x468From her investigation Cynthia had deduced this supplier had big problems. There was no way they would ever be able to supply their products by the deadlines Hallidon 7 would give them. The sales department would agree to the contract but the assembly department could never produce the order in time. It was a miscommunication. So desperate were Sales to get an order they would agree to almost anything. Assembly would passively resist the near impossible demands made upon them by slowing production. Each department had become defensive and bitter towards the other.

So Cynthia persuaded her boss to write into their contract a Service Level Agreement in which the supplier would be fined for each day the order was late. At the same time Hallidon 7 would source the same order from another supplier.

“The full price order,” Cynthia said proudly, “can be used immediately. While the order that comes late we get at a reduced price and can be used for subsequent production.”

And it worked!

Hallidon 7 profits went through the roof. They had, in effect, simply capitalized on another company’s inefficiency – ordering supplies they would only be using later.

But that seemed to have changed.

Cynthia couldn’t understand how this supplier had fixed their production times so quickly. The problems in the company were deep-seated and systemic.

adelaide_pp_small.jpgThe sales rep’ she spoke to was more than happy to tell her: “It’s no secret we had a culture of miscommunication and distrust. Each department was blaming the other.Every other department had effectively picked a side and supported them. We needed outside help – a third party who could tell it like it was and sort  the mess out; because those inside the problem lack objectivity.”

“Our CEO bought in People for Success. They’re based in most Australian capital cities and service even regional areas. These people have incredible business experience and specialize in solving business structure and culture problems.”

“And it was actually quite a complex problem involving more than just the two antagonistic departments. They spent a fair bit of time talking to people throughout the entire company and examining our business model. They were very thorough. Then they organized workshops to explain the problem and the solution to everyone. Each departments had to work on specific things. It was like tuning the different instruments in an orchestra – each instrument has to be tuned individually so that together they sound wonderful.”

Cynthia slumped in her chair. There would be no more free passes from this supplier.

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