The ERM team found that engaging key early supporters on an ongoing basis had mutually beneficial results for both. Most of the evolutionary improvements and best practices occurred as a result of these activities.
One major European unit sought to improve their growth rate. In 2006 Pete became the CFO, and in early 2007, Susan became general manager of this unit. Pete had participated in the initial South African workshop as well as his new unit's 2007 Operating Plan workshop. Susan had played the key role in having the ERM team involved in the 2004 European project.
To turn the business around, Susan and Pete wanted ERM to play a key role in the unit's growth program. They wanted to hold a series of ERM workshops to support the development of their program. The output would be built into and be monitored on an ongoing basis by their project management office (PMO). Over a period of 18 months, the unit held both the normal operating plan workshops as well as strategic ones. In order to increase the buy-in to the strategy by the entire business, they held a two-day workshop involving both the management team and their direct reports. This totaled approximately 30 associates. These associates were divided into several groups to conduct risk assessments of the proposed new strategies and to identify new activities and risk treatements that would improve the likelihood of achieving success. The output included changes to brands that the unit could best leverage. The process also developed support from multiple levels of the business, as they had an active voice in the process. This program of workshops contributed to the unit's successful achievement of its performance objectives.
In 2007 the company acquired a U.S.-based entity. About a year later Pete became the new CFO and Maria became the general manager. Maria had been general manager of Australia during the first ERM session in 2004, and has been a strong supporter of ERM ever since. They decided to use a similar approach to the one Pete had helped create in Europe, adding additional objectives. In addition to using ERM to assist in the development and stress testing of a comprehensive business strategy, they wanted to use ERM to assist in evaluating talent, embedding a new culture, and obtaining support from multiple layers of the business from their leadership team, the top 30 or so associates within the business. Over two and a half years, the unit held numerous workshops, both operational and strategic, to help them formulate their strategy and achieve their overall objectives.
Don had been the CFO for the first Australian Food workshop in 2005. In 2007, he became CFO of Japan. He used ERM to evaluate the unit's strategy. In this case, the unit had the brand manager for each brand come into the room, present the brand's strategy, and act as an equal member with the management team members in evaluating the likelihood of the brand successfully achieving its objectives. Here again, multilevel participation enhanced the buy-in within the business.
In 2010, Don became CFO of Petcare Asia/Pacific. Like Don, Richard, the GM of the business, had been a long-term supporter of ERM. They decided to use ERM with the regional management team to increase the probability of achieving their objectives. Over a two-year period, we held a series of ERM workshops to help support their development and evolution of their strategy. This included their brand portfolio, asset investment program, individual market investment, associate development, and so on. In addition to the standard workshop, we helped them with scenario planning to identify risk treatments for competitor activity, regulatory issues, and the like. In their meetings where no workshop was held, Don led the review of the risk profile, and the team voted on the risk profile of each strategic objective.
This team also took the standard template a step further. They categorized the risks and risk treatments by categories within each template. They added a fifth column that specified the actual activity. These were given to either the functional head of the region or the functional team underneath them responsible for the activity set – for example, Sales, Marketing, or Supply (i.e., manufacturing and distribution). The respective teams then provided periodic updates as part of the regional management team's risk profile update process.
The team found this approach beneficial for the team. As their objectives became "Green" and had been achieved, they developed new templates to reflect their updated strategies.