Case study

– Optimising work processes


 

When you need to communicate complex information, the best approach is to keep it simple. To boil it down to the essential parts, make those stand out clearly and then show how they are connected to each other. In most cases this will establish a mental image in the audience, which will provide the foundation for a deeper understanding in the long run, and pave the way for motivation of the desired behaviour.

This is how we think when we set out to create a whiteboard film. And this is also how we approached the project, when SIEMENS Wind Power asked us to produce a film explaining The Gateway Process.

SIEMENS Wind Power

Producing a wind turbine is a complex matter. Input from the market occurs in parallel with production planning. And in most cases, the constant changes to the parts specifications affect the development of the turbine – even late in the process. That means the production process has to be verified and confirmed every step of the way – and that requires special measures.

So, to execute projects successfully Siemens Wind Power has The Gateway Process to coordinate input between the Supply Chain, the Market and Research & Development.

A process, that may seem complex and difficult to understand at first.

That is why Siemens Wind Power needed a film that would help their employees – both new and existing – to get a better understanding of The Gateway Process. How it works, why everyone needs to work in the same flow to keep the production going – and what is at risk when a delivery is late or a mistake has been made.

We decided to develop the film in our whiteboard format, which is a particularly good tool to explain complex information in a simple way. The format is best described as a speed drawing, where each scene is drawn by hand as the script is narrated, in order to keep the attention of the audience.

This way all the important connections between departments and procedures can be visualised. And at the same time we can emphasise the need for each individual employee to follow the work processes, creating a common understanding in the target audience.

But how exactly do you turn complex information into something simple? Let’s dig a bit deeper and take a closer look at how we developed the story about The Gateway Process for SIEMENS Wind Power.

As with any other film we start with the research. We learn everything we can about the subject matter. And we get a clear picture of the target audience, their motivations and concerns. And we focus on making the information accessible and relevant to them.

In this case, the biggest concern in the target audience was the complexity of The Gateway Process. At first sight, this tool for communication, delivery and deadline management, looked confusing to some and maybe even overwhelming, because it connected everything and everyone in any given project.

Next, we develop a debrief – a detailed document defining the films main focus, perspective and the limit of the scope. The purpose of the film was to introduce The Gateway Processes simply and clearly in order to avoid big non-conformity costs.

Instead of giving a step-by-step account of each gate, we decided to explain the entire process as a connection tool between departments – a tool to monitor the progress of a project. This way the benefits are front and centre: You can use this tool to plan production, manage agreements and make your job easier.

And by focusing on the big picture, we also nudge each individual employee to take on a different perspective – thinking of the entire project and not just their own end. And this change in perspective is essential to change behaviour and in the end achieve results on the bottom line.

In the debrief we also define the most important content, the films priorities, in order to sharpen the main message. And from the debrief we move towards the overall structure of the film – a plan or roadmap for the story – resulting in the first outline.

Going from “why” to “how” to “what”. Why do I need to act? How should I act? And what exactly should I do?

Next, we write the first draft of the script. And through each new version we shape the narration into a storyline that constantly moves forwards – where each paragraph adds information and knowledge. The result is a dynamic and evolving narration, that will engage the audience in the story and maintain focus on the message.

In this case, the story first lays out the departments that are connected by the Gateway Process. And then zooms in on a typical project going through the gates, highlighting two critical gates on the journey.

The film ends with a slow zoom out to a view of the entire gateway process and the final drawing. A frame that can also be used as print either as a poster or as computer wallpaper – as a reminder for the target audience. This way the film will have a bigger effect and the main message will have a higher potential of sticking in the minds.

The right story will create a common point of reference and a common language about the subject matter.

So, whenever someone mentions the Gateway Process, everyone will know its purpose and importance. And everyone will know, that the job they are doing affects other departments and potentially the entire project-schedule and -cost.

This creates a sense of responsibility and motivates each individual employee to work together towards one common goal.