Part of the Worldwide Bosch Group, Worcester has been a UK market leader in domestic boilers since 1962. To help maintain this position, company managers regularly come together to strategically focus on how to keep the creative temperature turned up in a rapidly changing world.
Adopting a holistic approach, DCD were invited to one such annual congress, to which senior leaders from across the global reach of the organisation had been invited. The conference set itself the challenge of concentrating on:
- igniting true workforce empowerment,
- a commitment to action
- and a sustainable sense of urgency.
Working collectively to share their thoughts and feelings on how best to fuel this cultural shift, participants cooperated in teams to think ‘Blue Ocean’ and navigate the company into uncharted waters and new opportunities.
DCD’s task was to help anchor their combined contributions, fixing markers so that the ideas were not lost as the teams pressed forward with their plans. Painted in real time alongside the event’s activities, these ‘big picture’ ideals helped reintegrate the group as they returned from workshops, breaks and presentations; aligning shared values and aspirations as well as offering unique insights that were rich in meaning.
One of the classic benefits of working with visual metaphors that are graphically facilitated, is the way in which the creation of an image sparks imaginations and builds an evolving and expanding awareness of the subject and the associated possibilities. By way of an example, the carefully constructed metaphor of the Meshed Cogs, which has its own embedded meaning, led the group to create the WB40 concept of ‘targeted intervention’. Here the amended WD to WB stands for Worcester Bosch 40. Providing small amounts of intensive leader lubrication at strategic points, the aim was to clear blockages and keep things moving. With a focus on reducing ‘time taken’, these short bursts of input looked to compress meetings and tighten deadlines. Using the benchmark of reducing 1-hour meetings to 40 minutes (putting the 40 in WB40), the guiding principle was to reduce by a third the time spent on all ‘sticking points’.
The targeted application of the WB40 was also looking to inject enthusiasm, not only by intensifying resource fluidity and directed management input, but by also applying the same quick fire approach to recognising best practice. By deliberately focusing in on quicker ways to identify and acknowledge positive achievements, the aim was to promote ‘real time rewarding’ that ‘sync’ success to the specific behaviour, regardless of its size or position within the organisation’s workflow.
Having heightened both the sense of urgency and immediacy, their final objective was to appreciate the well oiled machine’s periods of faultless running, by being more reflective, working in a proactive way to avoid where possible future system breakdowns. Putting back the D from the original WD40 analogy to stand for ‘well done’.
Multi-layered in symbolic connotations, metaphorical images become a form of creative constraint that forces groups to come up with evocative ways of making their case and combining different ideas. Constraints can seem like the last thing anyone would want for a project, but countless examples show that they can actually be beneficial when it comes to innovation. What the creation of shared images does is naturally impose an inferred order with its own internal logic. Without being told do so the participants intuitively find ways of expanding, morphing and playing with what they have committed to, building solutions that chain together in ways that makes sense to the group. This is important because when groups originate these playful figures of speech, enjoying each others inspired input, they ‘get it’, they bodily understand what they are trying to achieve and how they are going to get there. Here at DCD we believe information is useful but until it is owned and assimilated it is not truly meaningful. When groups co-create a narrative the connections become more significant, more tangible, easier to ‘wrap your head around’ and make use of in the real world.
Another interesting phenomenon to occur within BIG Picture events is the way in which themes naturally appear for the audience. Dominant within Worcester Bosch’s graphic record is the number of Hands that can be seen entering the frame, to offer support and assistance. For the group, this unintended symbolism captured the mood of the event; echoing the readiness of all those involved to actively take part and contribute to improving and extending the reach of Worcester Bosch in the years ahead.