For the past 8 years, Viaposte has been one of the growing number of companies promoting "lean management" through the implementation of a high-performance managerial dynamics internally. This commitment takes the form of a programme that was launched in 2015: the Apollo programme.
To develop a genuine culture of operational excellence, Viaposte has chosen to involve the entire management team in this corporate project by developing a common set of practices, delivered within the Apollo programme modules.
The state of play in 2023 and the objectives for 2024: on the strength of its success over almost a decade, the programme still has a bright future ahead of it!
Apollo Programme: continuous improvement at the heart of the challenges
The need to implement a collaborative approach quickly became apparent as an initial response to the challenge of standardising skills and good managerial practice within Viaposte.
Compliance with company expectations and content of training programmes
The aim of this programme is to provide a common framework to ensure that the company's expectations with regard to the following are met:
- Company policy;
- Managerial dynamics;
- Operational excellence.
Within this framework, several levels of certification have been defined:
The Executive Blue Belt (EBB) training courses for managers of managers (operations managers and business managers) are available at several levels (EBB1, EBB2, EBB3) and cover essential topics such as:
- Squaring off work areas;
- Drawing up a team brief;
- Safety and compliance with standards;
- Team management;
- Performance measurement, and so much more.
At the end of each training module, managers undertake to carry out a project which is presented to a panel of judges to validate their EBB certification.
Training is provided at various levels, with the aim of collectively introducing good organisational practices to improve efficiency and emphasise better internal communication.
Thierry DUCHENE, Head of Operational and Process Excellence, explains the project’s background. Thierry joined Viaposte in 1999, initially working in operations before moving on to the quality and safety department. He was one of the key players in the deployment and creation of the Apollo programme.
"I was lucky enough to be part of the first class of Green Belts. I was then able to take part in drawing up the training programmes for the EBB referents and make a contribution, in particular by first taking part in the discussions around the name of the programme and then its content."
Thierry DUCHENE emphasises the collaborative nature of the project. "We're using a consulting firm to help us co-create our training modules, especially with regard to the theoretical part, but we're also creating our own Viaposte training modules!"
The sessions are designed to be fun, but challenging thanks to the evaluation grids and rankings at the end of the day, and the sharing of skills between managers. "These are real opportunities to exchange ideas and meet new people, to compare best practices and to learn new ones," concludes Mr DUCHENE.
Supporting certification: the priority challenge of the Apollo programme
Agnès SIMON is Director of Operational Excellence and Quality. Surrounded by her team, she has focused on creating a strong managerial dynamic, while not losing sight of the objective of training managers in the field in a continuous improvement approach.
Although the Apollo programme is sometimes less popular with management teams, it takes more than that for the EBB advisers to become discouraged. "Every year, we create new modules to make the programme even more attractive: we increase the level of training to make managers want to continue.
Between theory and practice, the Apollo programme is also a form of commitment. "Our main objective for 2024 is to lead our management teams towards a new stage of certification! We want to support them in this process, with stronger guidance, to enhance the value of EBB training courses, but also to anchor good practice for the long term," adds Agnès Simon.
2023 review and 2024 objectives
2023 was a very successful year for the Apollo programme, with a particularly encouraging number of managers trained:
- 80% in EBB 1 and EBB 2 ;
- 63% EBB 3.
However, the implementation of certification projects still needs to be stepped up and included in managers' roadmaps.
"2024 will see the introduction of the EBB 4 training module, which will be officially presented to management in February during a discovery session, and will hopefully be rolled out to managers from March onwards," explains Agnès Simon.
2024 also marks the launch of a committee to involve site managers more closely in the approach and in the programme. This committee will meet three times a year to gather opinions, share successes and consider areas for improvement.
To ensure that the programme runs smoothly, the year will also see the roll-out of season 2 of Viatop, our performance diagnostic programme that measures the maturity and progress of sites. "Viatop also highlights what's going well! While it takes stock of gaps and areas for progress, it also serves to highlight successes!" says Thierry DUCHENE.
The final word? "An EBB project is driven by a manager, but above all it's a team project!”