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Case 1: Fiber Optimization Strategic Initiative

Case 2: Converting Operations / Productivity Improvement / Culture Change Pulp & Paper Mill

Case 3: Change Management/ IT Integration/ Program Management

Case 4: Self-Directed Team (SDT) Implementation

Case 5: Culture Change/Training Initiative

Fiber Optimization Strategic Initiative

Background: An integrated pulp and paper corporation undertook a strategic initiative targeted to reduce fiber (key raw material) cost by 5%. The strategic initiative was to cross all three major business units and involve key suppliers. Given the large volume of fiber used in the corporation, a small improvement in fiber utilization would have a significant dollar impact in profit and shareholder value. Historically, divisions and operating units would not share technologies, processes and procedures that improved fiber utilization. At times, improving fiber cost in one area had a net negative impact on the value chain cost structure. Cooperation between operating units and facilities within divisions was an issue. There was a high probability that the project would produce identified savings that would not be realized because of resistance, lack of commitment and understanding.

Our consultants were called in to: Facilitate teams that identified optimization opportunities at key facilities and regions.  Document the project's history and process. Serve as project managers and organization consultants to the project, which had at times 120 members from both inside and outside the client organization. The project was truly a virtual project with only two people assigned to the project on a full time basis.

Our Approach: We used task-focused facilitation with strict deadlines to drive the opportunity identification teams. Each manufacturing location had coordinators who oversaw local initiatives and shared findings with other locations. An implementation methodology was developed that assisted manpower-short facilities in getting projects documented, proposed and funded. Once funded, projects could have manpower charged to them. A comprehensive communication plan and protocol was created that provided needed information to executives, project team members, facilities personnel and corporate support groups. A project/change methodology was specifically designed for key initiative type projects.

Results: Project goal of 5% realized (not identified) savings was reached 14 months into a 24-month project. Project was cash positive (realized savings > project costs) at 90 days. Annualized savings realized at the end of the project were three times the goal and 20 times the total project cost. Several people from the project were promoted based on exposure and experiences provided by the project.

Converting Operations

Productivity Improvement / Culture Change Pulp & Paper Mill

Challenges: Save $450,000 a year in the areas of rewinds, broke, unscheduled downtime and overtime in order to prevent downsizing. Design work systems for new extruder production lines that optimize performance. Improve quality to meet the increased demands of customers. Create an environment that adapts naturally to change. The average age of the work force was 55.

Our Approach: Facilitated the Redesign of Human and Technical Systems to Optimize Performance.  Provided Team-Based and Technical Training. Supervisors were Re-Trained to Become Coaches. The Operational Structure was Redesigned around Teams and Quality Principles.

The line was designed to allow team members time to troubleshoot, hold plant meetings, train each other and manage themselves. Teams were trained to be cross-functional, customer-driven, quality-focused, and continuously improving. Quality practices were designed into the system, including customer-driven teams visiting clients at least once a month for feedback on needed improvements, complaints, etc. Processes were initiated for information to be shared and improvements made. Alan H. King worked with the client to achieve ISO compliance.

Results: Increased profits. Improvements in recovery of materials. Prevented downsizing. Flexible, change-ready teams. ISO accreditation.

All economic indicators have improved. Recovery of materials is up from 87% to 92%. The client achieved a savings of $2 million for the year and downsizing was prevented. Profits have increased from $17 million to $42 million. Teams are able to adapt quickly and easily to change for FDA regulations, product changes, ISO compliance, etc.

Change Management/ IT Integration/ Program Management

Background: A diverse utility, providing gas and electric service in eight states and internationally, was reengineering its core processes while simultaneously implementing a system-wide upgrade of the entire IT infrastructure. Seven major initiatives were underway that included collapsing 123 call centers into three, implementing PeopleSoft ERP system for all enterprise support functions, developing a system-wide Customer Information System, automating the mapping and network layout for a wires and pipes, developing a computer-aided dispatch of service personnel and preparation for Y2K. The utility determined it did not have the appropriately skilled people to manage the integration of all changes with ongoing business needs. Our consultants were called to assist the project managers, project teams, and overall program manager in preparation and implementation of the changes.

Our Approach: We began by providing training in change management techniques for key personnel and detailed change plan development for the call center team. Our consultants worked with the project manager and team to prepare for an almost immediate implementation. Concurrently, we assessed each major initiative to determine how best to add value to their efforts. Our consultants worked closely with each team to prepare time estimates, develop detailed implementation plans, consult with project team members, and train designated internal personnel to assume the duties of change management over the life of the project.

At the program level, we consulted with the overall program managers and executives. The focus was to ensure that all change initiatives were implemented in a manner that did not overtax the organization's ability to implement and assimilate the myriad of changes that were preparing them for future success in a deregulated, competitive business environment.

Results: Call Center consolidation, under tremendous time constraints, was implemented successfully without loss of customer contact and quality and there was a significant drop in complaints while operating with 1/3 the personnel.  Customer Information System and Y2K compliance accomplished on time and under budget, and was used as a model at several technology conferences of the impact of building appropriate change management methodologies into project plans.  Implementation timelines were shifted for several major segments that would have resulted in major systems overloads and negative customer impact. Detailed change management plans were integrated with overall project plans to ensure successful implementation. Consistent approach to change minimized resistance and increased success of projects.

Self-Directed Team (SDT) Implementation

Background: Our consultants began by assessing the current status of an internal effort at Self-Directed Team (SDT) implementation within the Reservation and Sales department of a major U.S. airline. Recommendations were needed on how the process could be improved. The department had approximately 12,000 employees in eight major locations across the country.

Our Approach: We surveyed 300 participants in the initial teams, conducted focus group interviews, and facilitated a session with all leaders to determine what changes, if any, needed to be incorporated to improve the implementation. The results included a clear identification of two areas that needed immediate attention-role clarification for all people in the SDT environment, and development of performance measures appropriate for SDTs.

We then facilitated two design teams to develop roles and measures for the SDTs. The results included a new design with clearly defined roles for all members from District (facility) Manager to the front line representative. Concurrently, measures were developed that clearly connected job behavior to department and corporate goals and provided focus on team rather than individual performance.

We worked closely with department staff and project leadership to ensure that the changes recommended could be supported from a values, strategy and business perspective. A Steering Team was instituted to ensure coordination of changes across the department. We provided training in Managing Change, the Role of the Manager and other areas for self-directed team and team leadership development.

Results: The results prompted management to accelerate the self-directed team implementation, begin a SDT structure at two new greenfield facilities, and included improvements in:

Productivity:  Occupancy rate improvement of over 6%, equal to having 200 extra sales people at no additional cost. Savings of 192 employees by elimination of new hire quality assurance reps. Length of time for new hires to become fully productive reduced from seven months to three months. Call average handling time (AHT) for new hires reduced by 18%.    Service Quality: Calls to the customer service help desk reduced by 9%. Customer compliments increased by 33%.  Developed new quality measures that aligned with customer service needs. People:  Attrition of new hires reduced from 17% to 4% in the first six months. Heightened feelings of ownership by SDT members. Improved communication within and between teams.

Culture Change/Training Initiative

Challenge: Leading telecommunications company was not in a competitive environment prior to deregulation. The Company was complacent and non-business oriented in its regulatory mindset. They recognized the need to re-shape the culture into a more competitive, market-sensitive organization. We were charged with developing a program to train over 27,000 managers in multiple locations to think competitively.

Our Approach: We designed a five-day program entitled, "Managing in a Competitive Environment" that taught managers to: Think independently. Take risks. Put the customer first. Manage people. Be leaders. Clarify their role in a competitive environment.

Results: Highly-skilled internal trainers.  A company-wide focus on customers. Clear understanding of the managers' role in a competitive marketplace.

We trained the company's internal trainers to successfully facilitate the course around the country. The program was successfully delivered to over 27,000 managers across the country by a host of extremely competent internal trainers. Trainers continuously evaluate the course contents for relevancy. The program is so effective, it continues to be used to develop managers.

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Copyright 2006 Alan H. King Consulting


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