Fast Track Change Process







The Fast-Track Change Process™ is a fast-paced, “whole-system” organizational change method used for tackling “hard” business issues of two broad types:

Redesigning strategically important, cross-functional business processes.
Solving strategically important business issues (requiring changes in structures and systems, as well as business processes).

The The Fast-Track Change Process™ is a more sophisticated version of a methodology called the Work-Out Process, originally developed at General Electric in the late 1980s. Compared to other methodologies for addressing the same kinds of issues (such as TQM and process reengineering), Fast-Track is faster, more focused, and highly participative, producing strong commitment to change among employees at all levels.

What Results does it Produce?

Most importantly, the Fast-Track methodology has consistently produced very strong, measurable business results (including reduced cycle-time, increased efficiency, higher quality, revenue growth, and increased customer and employee satisfaction). It has produced these results not only at Fortune 500 companies (IBM, PepsiCo, Disney, Ameritech, Transamerica, and Pacific Gas & Electric), but also at smaller and mid-sized companies.

Art of the Future and our colleagues have facilitated a number of highly successful Fast-Track projects at several Fortune 500 companies and at a leading New England health plan. These projects have included two broad applications of the Fast-Track change methodology: Process redesign and business issue solutions.

The Following Are Some Examples Of Our Work In Each Area:

Process Redesign

Here are three examples of Fast-Track process redesign projects we've carried out with a leading New England health plan:

The NCQA (the federal body responsible for evaluating HMO quality) had awarded Harvard Pilgrim the highest possible rating, conditional upon a rapid and dramatic improvement in its customer complaints process. Needing to move quickly, the company used a Fast-Track project to revamp its complaints process, develop a new system, and, in record time, install both across multiple regions. As a result they not only retained their top-level accreditation, but also greatly increased the quality and continuous-improvement capability of their complaints process. More on this client story.

Five cross-functional teams worked together for three-and-one-half days to take the company's product development cycle-time of almost one year down to 18 weeks. This change is resulting in increased revenues, reduced costs, and higher customer and staff satisfaction. The company's CFO, who was a decision-maker present at the end of the redesign event, said the teams' work had “saved the company millions of dollars.” More on this client story.

The Claims Services Department used the Fast-Track methodology to significantly reduce the time required to sort and prepare incoming claims mail for processing. The redesign integrated four different “pre-merger” processes into one, without layoffs. More on this client story.

Business Issue Solutions

With the strong support of its CEO, a Fortune 100 manufacturer has made a deep commitment to the Work-Out based approach we call the The Fast-Track Change Process™. Using this approach, they they have completed over 150 change projects. The results in inventory reduction, cost savings, and revenue growth have been phenomenal. Some examples:

Four projects resulted in incremental revenue growth of $30 million, $125 million, and $157 million, and $171 million, respectively. Five other projects resulted in an average annual cost savings of $60 million each.
This global company has gained many additional benefits from the Fast-Track change methodology, including:
Significant reductions in cycle-time.
Much improved relationships with customers and business partners.
Much stronger cross-functional alignment within the company.

How does it Work?

One of the features of Fast-Track that accounts for its rapid pace and strong track record is the fact that each project has clear, strong executive sponsorship. Project Sponsors have three key roles:

Clarifying all major project parameters up-front.
Making yes-or-no decisions about the redesign team's recommendations at the end of the 3.5 - 4 day redesign event that constitutes the center-piece of the methodology.
Providing strong leadership during the 90-day implementation phase.

The Fast-Track Change Process is structured into three phases:



1. The Planning Phase (~6 weeks)
Executive Sponsors participate in a few meetings to clarify a focal issue of high strategic import, and, with the help of the Lead Consultants, “scope” the project in writing. They make very clear to everyone who will be working on the project what the objectives are, what the “givens” are and what is “off-limits.” The Sponsors also select a Planning Team that has the job of designing an intensive 3.5 - 4 day event, frequently focused on process redesign. The Planning Team, with the help of the Lead Consultants, fine-tunes the project scope, decides how many redesign teams will be needed (usually 3-5), recruits the team members, and puts together the background information people will need to read before the come to the event.


2. The Business Meeting (~3.5 - 5 Days)
At the center of the Fast-Track is a 3.5 - 4 day event called the Business Meeting, usually attended by 35-50 people who know the process and have a strong stake in its improvement. After a general orientation where they receive a charge from project Sponsors, participants break into teams and work very intensively with specially-trained Team Consultants. The Business Meeting includes a number of mechanisms that ensure integration and alignment among all participating teams. The teams prepare a coordinated set of recommendations to present to Sponsors on the last half-day of the Business Meeting. At that time, the Sponsors make yes-or-no decisions about these recommendations. The Business Meeting ends with clear decisions for implementation, commitment of the necessary resources, and great deal of enthusiasm among people at all levels.


3. The Implementation Phase (~90 Days)
Fast-Track also includes a rapid-paced, well-monitored Implementation Phase. Each redesign team in the Business Meeting has a Team Champion. Immediately after this meeting, these Champions come together with the Project Champion to form the Implementation Team. This team translates all the approved action items into a project plan. During this phase, with on-going leadership and support from the project Sponsors, the people who participated in the Business Meeting make sure all approved recommendations are implemented within the targeted time-frame. Status review meetings are held at 30, 60, and 90 days, attended by project Sponsors and the Implementation Team. The final meeting is a celebratory event, where all who participated are recognized for the part they played in the success of the project.

Participant Evaluations

“As a former facilitator in our quality management area, the speed with which a process can be redesigned and approved in this process is remarkable. Our competitive marketplace demands that we as an organization be able to respond much faster than we have in the past. This approach will help us do that.”

“This is by far the most gratifying and results-oriented process I've been involved in over the past 12 years.”

“Nothing I have experienced before can compare to this!”

“Fast-Track promotes team-building, increases employee morale, instills a sense of confidence and pride in the company and yields real improvements.”

“It's a quick, effective way to solve problems that have existed for years. All the players are here, including those who work in the trenches and know the issues and those who have the power to remove roadblocks for them.”

"Wow!"

"The right people were involved with the planning and redesign, and the decision-makers were immediately available to provide commitment for follow-through and implementation. This allowed objectives to be accomplished in an expedited fashion, especially in areas that need immediate improvement."

“I learned that rapid change processes are actually possible! The pre-work to specify the scope, desired outcomes, and challenges really focused the effort. Also, the decision-making coaching for the Sponsors. We should use this tool frequently.”

“The corporate commitment was evident and gave the process force. The use of external consultants helped in building Sr. Management teamwork and gaining their collective buy-in.”

“The speed with which things got done was great. The Business Meeting is great for compressing a huge amount of work into a short time-frame.”

“Other [change efforts I've been involve in] were no way as effective. This was swift, accurate, taken seriously, and highly prioritized. At the Business Meeting, we got literally one year of work done in 4 days, with immediate feedback and buy-in.”

“The keys to success were: Clear planning up-front, action plans with details and timelines, the yes/no decision-making model, and senior level commitment.”

“The time-frame was intense but productive. It usually takes years. Clear deliverables and excellent planning resulted in a successful outcome.”



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