Scott R. Playfair  |  10/29/2008

Creating High-Performing Teams

P Squared Consulting Process Improvement

Mammoet USA Inc., the United States division of Netherlands-based Mammoet, a worldwide leader in heavy lifting and transport, brought a challenging problem to P Squared Consulting of The Woodlands, Texas. A new management team, in place about a year, had set a very aggressive goal to triple the size of the division within three years through acquisitions and organic growth. However, with the legacy culture that team members inherited, they were not sure how to achieve this goal.

Initial discussions with management and employees uncovered several overriding areas for improvement: strengthening teamwork between employees and departments, understanding and integrating international cultures, upgrading company processes and strengthening the supply chain, and creating a new culture grounded in continuous process improvement (PI), using teams as the core foundation.

Employees further noted that if anything was going to change, they needed management support and empowerment. They wanted management to guide them with a plan to improve overall company processes.

During the last 10 years, P Squared has developed and refined an approach to ensure success when an organization makes the decision to use PI to improve the productivity and the profitability of the company.

This approach succeeds primarily due to its simplicity, allowing everyone in an organization to engage in the PI methodology, fully supporting the effort. Using these time-tested methods, obtaining employee ownership of their processes is simple, helping them understand their internal customer/supplier relationships and needs, clearly mapping out the “should be” state of their processes, and having them identify problems and opportunities for improvement. By streamlining and clarifying processes, eliminating waste, and applying common sense PI tools, an organization can vastly improve its bottom line.

For Mammoet USA Inc., P Squared responded with a step-by-step solution that guided and developed the management team, first educating team members and laying a PI foundation. A customized implementation plan was developed jointly with the management steering team. Every management team member was now supportive and knowledgeable as the plan was driven deeper into the organization.

Once the implementation plan was developed, all employees involved in the effort were also educated and armed with an understanding of simple PI tools. They used these tools to define their departments’ mission--their unique reason for being a part of the organization--which gave them a stronger sense of belonging to a team. They then used the following simple steps to better understand their process:

Identify what the team supplies to its customer--its output.

Identify the customer that receives this output.

Identify what the customer expects and needs from the team.

Map out the steps in the work process.

Identify ways that this process can be measured to ensure that it satisfies the customer requirements.

Take measurements to determine if the process is capable of providing what the customer needs.

When a high-quality process is in place, lock in and document any improvements.


With each department process clearly defined and interdepartmental support needs identified, each employee understood what he or she needed to do to ensure that his or her customer/supplier relationship was strong throughout the organization. Team-to-team critical accountability and commitment was generated.

These efforts also resulted in clear job descriptions. Each employee knew how to do his or her job and how he or she fit into the company process. Managers became more confident; they were able to focus on the mission of their departments with key performance measurements and focus on their own jobs, not the jobs of their employees.

Teamwork improved, driven primarily by joint participation in the definition of each team’s responsibility as well as how each team integrated with other teams companywide. Department barriers became transparent, and all employees realized that they were part of the same team.

During a six-month follow-up by P Squared, the chief operating officer (COO) announced that business volume and profit was up significantly over the previous year. The COO further explained that this was done without added resources, and that the PI effort allowed the company to do more with the same people and equipment. The only thing that changed was the improvement of how the employees performed their processes and their committed ownership for the success of the improvements.

The only true competitive advantage of any business is its people. The key to capitalizing on that competitive advantage is team-based, continuous process improvement with the support of a committed management team--an elegantly simple management philosophy that always holds true. P Squared Consulting Process Improvement

P Squared Consulting Process Improvement


  • Allows teams to take ownership of key processes
  • Streamlines and clarifies processes, thereby improving the organization’s bottom line
  • Focuses on finding customer needs, reinforcing that proper customer output is being provided, and maintaining good performance
  • Creates a great feeling of teamwork throughout the organization  


About The Author

Scott R. Playfair’s default image

Scott R. Playfair