Thanks for showing so much love to my book – The Anexas Story. Based on many requests to publish chapters of the book on LinkedIn, I continue to write a series of articles based on these chapters. Please read on and keep believing that there is an entrepreneur in you…and everyone!
It was time to hit Control, Alt, Delete to reboot our venture. In Riyadh, we started knocking the doors of every organization we could think of as prospective client. Sometimes it would mean standing in the 45°C sun waiting for a taxi, which took sometimes more than half an hour to find in remote industrial areas. (Those were not the days of Olas and Ubers, you know).
Things were not turning out to be so favorable for us. But now there was no option of another U-turn after that airport U-turn. It was time to capitalize on that one chance fate had given us. Make hay while the sun shines, as they say. And the sun shines with its full glory in Saudi Arabia.
‘One day the sun would shine upon the fortunes of Anexas too,’ we would think.
Yes, it did. But not so easily. While making a presentation to one of the largest logistics company in Saudi Arabia, the CEO got interested in us after hearing about our work in the Danish shipping company. But he warned, “Things don’t work like Europe in Saudi.”
I knew what he meant. In Europe, you say, “Let’s talk business, and if we have time, we can have lunch.” In the Middle East, you say, “Let us have lunch together. If we have time, we can talk business.” In the Middle East, it was essential to respect age and seniority. Things would move fast only if the seniors desired to.
If you had the support of seniors, then things would run fast and smoother, even quicker than in Europe or America! When the CEO was convinced with our knowledge and past experience of operating in the Middle East, he gave us an opportunity to prove ourselves in his Saudi company. However, he was a bit skeptical about the outcome of Six Sigma. He asked me, “What would you need from me to make it happen in our company?”
“Your full support, both in words as well as deeds,” was my reply.
“What does it mean? What do I need to do?” he wanted a pragmatic answer.
“All your senior-most managers including yourself should undergo a one-day orientation program, called Champions training so that they can champion the cause within the organization,” I just reiterated in different words what Edward Deming, the Quality guru, used to say in the 1950s to senior leadership teams in Japan.
“Amen,” came the diktat from the CEO, whose family was a major shareholder in the company. And when I saw him sit through all four days of the Green Belt program, I knew that the success of the program was guaranteed. We trained a batch of twenty-five Green and Black Belts, who were allocated improvement projects in all the departments, be it operations, fleet management, procurement, HR, IT, maintenance, transportation or finance.
Ten high impact projects were chosen on which the team started working. We also felt the need to train the ground staff so that they could support the implementation of ideas and new processes. So, we started conducting training for couriers and even drivers of the trucks, sometimes in Arabic, Hindi, Malayalam, Urdu and Bengali, which were the common languages spoken by them. Implementation of workplace management tools like ‘5 S’ was very helpful to reduce time wasted in warehouses and improve the maintenance of vehicles.
Within four months of launching the whole initiative the trucks utilization improved by 30%, customer complaints about the erroneous or delayed deliveries reduced to almost half, and average time to receive pending payments reduced from 180 days to 60 days, releasing more than ten million Saudi Riyals for usage to buy new trucks. Most importantly there was a visible improvement in the morale of the ground staff, which was reflected in their better behavior while handling a customer.
Encouraged by the success of the first wave, they wanted us to continue the same work and entered into a three year contract with us. Buoyed by the success of quality initiatives and improvement in its services, our client expanded at a phenomenal rate.
Anexas was to travel with them throughout this journey, as the CEO moved on to join the board of Directors and a new CEO took over. Both of them became votaries of Anexas in various forums. In one of the recent video testimonials, the new CEO says, “Anexas was responsible for positively impacting the balance sheet of our organization by millions of dollars, and they, as advisors, helped us to graduate from a regional company to an international company.
This success paved the way for us to have a firm footing in Saudi Arabia. And with this proven success, we arrived back in the saddle in style.
For subsequent articles, please watch this space.
You can buy the book directly from its website on https://www.anexasstory.com
or on Amazon on https://www.amazon.in/ANEXAS-STORY-There-Entrepreneur-Everyone-ebook/dp/B07ZGLN8C7
Amitabh Saxena is founder of Anexas, a well-known lean six sigma and project management consulting organisation. He has trained over 50,000 participants and has 30 years of experience in consulting more than 300 organisations around the world including Fortune 100 companies across industry domains. With a strong team of 25 Master Black Belts, his organisation Anexas has been helping individuals and organisations achieve eminence through excellence since 2006. They can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.