In discussions with colleagues in the head hunting industry, I was told of a recent client meeting when they were looking at an assignment to appoint a process change manager in manufacturing - taking as an example for the brief the automotive and aerospace industry environment. The discussion centred on a person having a clear vision of the issues of added value, location and process.
Inevitably part of the conversation took in the situation at Peugeot – essentially the different positions of Ryton and the new plant in Slovakia (Trnava). At one plant 2500 people lose their jobs whilst at another more jobs are created as the output of cars per capita in Slovakia exceeds output anywhere else in Europe.
Either the jobs moved where the process added most value - or the business lost competitiveness and customers – or, at the very least, faced uncomfortable levels of competition.
We talked also of Airbus and its problems with plants and process. It appears, at least looking in from the outside, that when decisions - hard, crucial decisions - were required, these were made difficult by inter-country and inter-company politics and were put off.
This, it seems, led to the early departure of the man who was widely thought to have been brought in to make and implement those very decisions. I am no expert on engineering processes, but I would have thought that if processes called for parts of the task of building some of the world’s biggest and finest aircraft to be spread around then the spreading should, at the very least be done on the basis of best value for money and/or best added value.
So, if VW finds it economic to switch the assembly of parts to Slovakia because the cost of assembly is cheaper - it means their cars can be priced cheaper, the consumer benefits and VW will sell more of them; everyone gains. If that is so then the same should be true of aircraft assembly also.
The final irony of course is that Christian Streiff who left Airbus because – it is thought – “they” would not let him take the hard decisions, and went to ….. Peugeot!
We then read that whilst some assembly and automotive manufacturing plants are closing in the UK, ever more of the high tech F1 Teams are choosing to locate here and that several world- class manufactures are similarly deciding to locate their global design facilities here also.
Through a glass darkly – almost literally – I had a vision of manufacturing moving to distant locations where labour and costs offered best value for money, assembly being concentrated at central locations close to the market/customer. And all the back office stuff – research, planning, marketing, accounts being located wherever there was most advantage. The important thing being that what the customer sees is a finished product that works and offers value from a supplier whose products and services gives them confidence.
Talking this through over a glass of Sancerre (hence the glass darkly) with Shena from EURONET Search and Matt and Munib my colleagues, I thought it might be interesting to apply the same principles to recruitment and head hunting. We thought it would be a timely thing to do when tens of millions of £’s are being poured into agencies in anticipation of what someone in the on-line recruitment magazine called, I think, ‘the Perfect Storm of 2007’. Amongst others they predict a real shortage of available management talent in Europe coupled with exponential growth in India and China which will stress our skills resource as western managers are recruited by Asian concerns in the same way that they affected the basics in 2006 – oil, energy, steel etc.
I suggest that in these terms a successful head hunting assignment is the product of a process of assembly – the culmination of a number of tasks that have been properly concluded in good time for an appointment that will endure and deliver. In that sense, to continue the analogy, the process mirrors manufacturing the Airbus or the automotive industry.
The basic tasks that make up an assignment are pretty well known although they are often described in the arcane language and jargon (that ancient religions used to enhance their power and status!):
The elements and tools that are required include:
It all adds up … to a continuation of the assembly analogy showing that some of these tasks can be completed separately and incorporated later in The Consultant’s decision-making process.
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