Client: Kingsford Charcoal, Oakland, CA
Situation: Kingsford operated 13 plants and used two contractors to produce its charcoal but was still unable to meet production requirements. Safety levels were the worst in the portfolio of businesses owned by Clorox and product quality was seriously lacking.
Nature of Intervention: InterOctave worked with the Executive team and Leadership to increase their ability to create comprehensive business strategies, while simultaneously producing a strategy for immediate change. This year-long engagement enabled Kingsford’s leaders to: employ critical thinking skills, understand market dynamics, become direction setters with regard to innovation and distribution and to use strategic thinking as a continuous, living process in their day to day efforts.
InteOctave then worked with cross-functional teams to build a systems understanding of the “value adding process” (from supplier through customer) that was involved with the effective creation of a quality charcoal product. This perspective helped every member of the business to hold accountability, just as managers did, for the potential of the business and their role in it and for the stakeholders to the business, including the natural world and communities where they did business.
Results: Using their new skills and systems perspective, employees worked in teams that tied them directly to customers (and other stakeholders) and were able to generate and immediately implement improvements. Improvements were made as a part of daily of work and the related efficiencies were 10x every two months.
Within three years Kingsford increased profitability by over 200% and became Clorox’s second most profitable subsidiary. With only one-sixth of the employees of the whole company, they produced one third of the profits, reversing the exact opposite ratio of two years earlier.
Kingsford was able to produce tonnage that met the increased sales demands generated by the new strategy, but did so using only 5 plants. All plant closing resulted in letters of acclamation to the company since no one lost a job until they found one at the same level or better. They were supported in this transition with education and skill building.
Kingsford set the new Safety Plan standard for Clorox and moved well below industry averages for job related injuries. They also continuously discovered means of reducing pollution from products in manufacturing and use as an integrated part of improving the business.
Employees had developed new capabilities useful in any employment situation; the confidence to manage themselves in changing situations, the capacity to think critically about business issues and the ability to foster innovation as part of day-to-day work activity.
Quality improved ten-fold and Kingsford was delivering a stream of new and competitively unique products three times faster and with twice the rate of success all increasingly environmental sound.
Kingsford won awards for product design, and in Kentucky, for extraordinary community services in lifting the level of literacy in families of their employees and then the greater community.