Aligning the company's strategy with every level of the business' performance has been the key to success
In a highly specialised field like structural engineering, finding the right approach to goal setting and strategic planning is essential for companies looking to achieve long-term success.
Jeremy Hawkes, Managing Director of Bowhill Engineering, is well aware of the strategic challenges experienced by a specialised engineering firm. As a family-owned firm that fabricates complex steel structures for major infrastructure projects, the business faces a range of unique issues, which in turn require a focused approach to company strategy and goal-setting.
By finding specialised processes to handle the development of company processes, the organisation has remained competitive and offers a unique value proposition to clients.
The Challenge: Finding the right strategy for a niche operation
'Staying true to our core strength and focus sometimes means saying no to a project and recommending others in the industry who are better suited for the type of work that we are not suited for has been a major challenge.'
With such a specialised operating niche, Bowhill Engineering's biggest challenge comes from developing a strategy that is both right for a family-focussed business and can also deliver the right level of expertise to clients.
This has meant taking the time to develop the right strategy and value proposition which communicates the values of the organisation. As a growing business, it was also important to create an identity which could not only serve subsequent generations of the family, but also ensure any future expansion of the business always aligned to the true core values.
Once this focus was developed, staying fixed on it became a major focus for Jeremy and the management team at Bowhill Engineering, even if that means turning away work.
The Solution: Developing a coherent identity for the company
'Goals are tied into either individuals or group KPI's and/or our performance appraisal process. This ensures they are tracked, monitored and rewarded if completed satisfactorily.'
To ensure the company has a strong foundation to develop in the future, Jeremy has invested time into developing a comprehensive core identity that defines how the business operates. For Bowhill Engineering, this consists of five core areas:
- Professional - delivering effective solutions to clients with complex needs
- Intelligent - providing a unique perspective and creativity to solve problems
- Consistent quality - providing accurate and reliable services
- Scope - working in niche field on highly specialised projects
- Success - building a reputation for effective solutions to client demands
While these five principles have formed the core of the company's brand, there has also been a renewed focus within the business on sourcing unique solutions to meet client demands.
For Jeremy, this has meant translating the main principles of the company strategy into every area the business works in.
'When developing policy documents and procedures etc, it is essential for us to reference back to core information such as vision, brand and strategic plans,' said Jeremy.
'This reference allows key words, statements and or direction in the development of the procedures to reinforce, compliment and strengthen the big picture and aspirational desires of both the organisation and individual workers.'
This focus then filters down to every stage of the organisation, especially when it comes to organisational goal setting and even the way meetings are conducted.
The Results: Effective alignment of goals and processes
'TEC gives you an opportunity to stop, lift your eyesight a bit and consider the longer term possibilities.'
For Bowhill Engineering, the result of taking this approach is already visible. The company has won numerous awards including the regional winner for South Australia in the Telstra Business Awards 2014, and the winner of the Australian Steel Institute's Steel Excellence in Engineering Projects award for 2014.
Jeremy has also been personally recognised, named as a grant recipient of the Industry Leaders Fund in 2013-14.
Underpinning this success has been a concerted effort by Jeremy and his team to align the company's strategy with every level of the business's performance.
'I believe that if you are disciplined and driven enough to align and achieve goals that lead towards a bigger picture vision of what you want to be (as an individual or organisation) then amazing things can happen,' said Jeremy.
'Bold and ambitious vision can be daunting for anyone, but chunk it down into clear, actionable and achievable tasks, the seemingly impossible takes shape over time.'
The growth of the business has also hinged on finding the time to take a broader view of the business and then develop strategies that can match this growth.
'My experience is that standing back and taking a helicopter view of your progress from time to time is often surprisingly impressive, rewarding and hence motivational towards continued discipline and focus,' he said.
For Jeremy, being a member of TEC has also played a considerable role in giving this oversight to develop the right strategy and goals for the organisation.
'Goal setting is important, and this environment is a great setting to create these challenges and drive your business forward in a very strategic and well thought-out manner,' summarised Jeremy.