One Sweet Recipe for Success
Product: Ice cream novelties, inclusions and other specialty food products.
Number of Employees: 140
Years in Business: 20
Location: Burlington, VT
In just 20 years Rhino Foods grew from a husband and wife run ice cream shop selling ice cream cookie sandwiches, to a 140-person company selling ice cream ingredients to the major industry players. Owner and Founder, Ted Castle, imbued the growing company with strong principles, which helped guide the company through its early years of growth. Focusing on the softer side of control systems, his natural, coaching based leadership style nurtured new talent brought into the company, providing ongoing guidance and feedback. As the company grew, a two-level management structure was developed which allowed delegation of operational issues from the Founder. Development of the senior management team was becoming a particular concern, specifically around planning, execution and reporting. In November 2002, VMEC was called in to Rhino Foods to assist in developing plans.
VMEC Professional Business Advisors developed an operational planning process built on the existing, organically developed systems, extending those systems to the next level. Using an Excel-based project management system, VMEC led the Rhino management team through a planning process focused on Key Focus Areas for the coming year, and coached team members in using the system while it became habitual. The process of developing this system gave the team opportunities to look at the business and their responsibilities from a different, longer-term perspective. New language around “value stream mapping” and “corporate DNA” was introduced. Team members attended VMEC workshops to increase their familiarity with this terminology and to experience related techniques. Resulting discussions led Rhino to select VMEC to lead its strategic planning process in December 2003.
Using a combination of theory and experience, VMEC led the management team through the process of developing a vision, building on their existing Purpose, Principles and Vision, which had been formulated years before. Leading them through this intense process allowed the Purpose, Principles and Vision to be tweaked and reflect each team member’s unique perspectives, thus allowing more personal ownership. The result was a revised Purpose, Principles and Vision that the entire management team could stand behind.
The process then swung into developing a set of strategic objectives, with metrics that fed down to metrics generated during operational planning. The overall system was refined to form a cohesive, coordinated metric-driven management system fully aligned with the corporate Purpose, Principles and Vision.
Rhino Foods redesigned their entire planning process, beginning with near-term operational issues, moving to the 10-year timeframe through strategic planning. This was refined through a system of cascading performance metrics designed to align with and reinforce the new Purpose, Principles and Vision. The senior management team experienced a dramatic increase in alignment, enhanced awareness of how their actions affect the long term strategic goals, and more direct feedback on them.