Today we are opening a new Labor-b column that aims at giving companies a voice by meeting Simone Berchiolli, Co-Founder and CEO of CRC S.r.l.
Mr. Berchiolli, two years ago you began a process reflecting on the future of your company, CRC S.r.l., on which external market scenarios there could be and consequently on how your organization could best respond to these essential changes.
Can you tell us about this journey?
CRC S.r.l. is a company that has been operating on the market for over thirty years. It is a small, reliable and solid reality to which some large companies – dedicated to the production of machines or consumer goods in various industrial fields (paper, non-woven fabric, pharmaceuticals, packaging, etc.) – require supplies and technical services. CRC designs and manufactures machines or parts of machines, prototypes and accessories for production lines. It also offers engineering, assembly, installation, start-up and maintenance services for customers operating in Italy and abroad.
The company – located in the Lucchesia area (ed) – is part of a small “network” of advanced technical companies (WIVA Network) which also includes ORADOC S.r.l. (Doctoring solutions for Tissue and Paper & Board for end users and OEMs) and ISE S.r.l. (Reliability & Maintenance Consulting, PdM & Condition Monitoring and professional training) born and acquired over the years through my brother Sandro’s and my own initiative.
Overall today the companies employ about 70 people, CRC over thirty. They have common development areas and others that are more individual but look in the same strategic direction, with close communication and shared development projects.
A few years ago with Sandro, paying attention to the evolution of our client companies, we had a common thought. The goal was to start transforming a small company with a strong “personal and family leadership” into a company in which spirit and organizational growth could be strengthened allowing us to expand delegations and encourage autonomy paths for internal resources, making them even more aware of the need to work together for the changes required by the market.
In our intentions this process is aimed at strengthening and improving the company and the network from within so that it can better measure itself with the challenges and opportunities that come from increasingly turbulent markets and increasingly demanding customers to whom we want to offer services and products with an even higher level of quality.
Aware of the importance of the project, we looked for a partner capable of supporting us, who could share these ideas of ours and support us along the way by making us “a mirror” with its specific expertise. It was essential for us to take into account the placement of CRC in the WIVA network and the rapid evolution of our reference businesses. We are convinced however that the entrepreneur must remain the protagonist of business decisions. And this is where Labor-b came into play.
What were the main objectives of the project?
We were immediately determined to create a renewed organizational “conscience” that could allow the growth of a widespread maturity of key people, highlighting their value, leveraging their strengths and allowing us to intervene in the areas to be improved.
In the same way we needed to define and share with greater awareness the main centers of responsibility and supervision of our organization, rebalancing the role of the Management, with respect to the future context in which the company may find itself operating.
Finally, we set out to co-design and share role descriptions capable of both reflecting our structure without distorting it, and being more aligned with a renewed context and our network of relationships. These must also be able to evolve with flexibility, given that – as we have recently learned – you have to be ready for unexpected and sudden events and changes!
And what were the main results achieved?
We are satisfied with the work done together with Labor-b; today we see a company that has taken steps forward compared to the beginning of the path, and starts to have its own physiognomy and tries to “walk on its own legs”. We believe there is still a need for supervision, but the people involved in the project now demonstrate a greater awareness of their role and position in the company, as well as a broader vision of the need to be an active part of the change, which is fundamental to adapt to the future.
In summary, I would say that what we have achieved was the framing and the first structuring of an organization more suited to the current situation and the moment that the company is experiencing, well determined to raise the bar of the quality of products and services offered to customers. The project also made it possible to create the first embryo of an intermediate management group, making some decision-making processes more fluid and shared and favoring a model that begins to disconnect the future of the company from the constant presence of my brother and me.
We believe that there are moments in the life of a company in which analysis and decisions must be guided with greater emphasis. The two-year period 2018-2020 and the next 2020-2022 will be decisive for the development and evolution of CRC. About ten years ago, with the creation of a technical office, we took a first small step forward; today, together with Labor-b, we can say that we have done another one, or rather that we have started a path!
My brother and I are happy to have undertaken this project with Labor-b. We found in listening to our reflections first and then in the approach to the result, a group of experts who gave coherent answers to our ideas. These are very delicate processes where many aspects come into play that also involve personal relationships that may have matured over the years, especially with “historical” figures who have always been part of the company. There was a need for someone who was able to listen but also to firmly propose the necessary changes..
Labor-b consultants did it not only with competence, but also with sensitivity and I would say with grace.
Of course, the project also caused tremors, which I expected and which I had anticipated to our collaborators even before starting the activities. Those of them who understood the strategic importance of the project are now part of a structure that I believe to be stronger. Those who have not understood this have effectively excluded themselves from the company, evidently they have never really understood the value, power and importance of working in a team, of being really part of an organization and supporting it.
What are the main signs of change?
CRC is a little bit of mine and my brother’s creature! As a direct manager, I too had to make an effort to change, starting to leave space for my collaborators both on the operational and management side. People gradually began to refer not only to me as the sole focus of the company. This despite a situation conditioned by the spread of COVID as well as by the recent inclusion of some new figures in the company.
The feeling at the beginning of October 2020 is that greater awareness has been created in the company. I am still involved in the most important decisions, but I do not hide the fact that deep down I am pleased that my collaborators, as part of their powers, choose paths that are not exactly the ones I would have traveled. Even if sometimes the results are still not as expected! Everyone today is engaging with greater determination, interacting more with each other and not just with me as was the case in the past. This is certainly a big change, for us the first measure of the activities carried out by Labor-b in relation to our vision.
The path of change therefore began to be metabolized. Do you think there are further steps to take?
In what should have been the months of full consolidation of the new organizational design, as for everyone, the COVID emergency slowed down all activities and obviously shifted our attention to the need to react promptly to the market and to support our customers.
The project (which in the appendix also included an assessment center session, thanks to which it was possible to detect areas of strength and improvement of the key figures with respect to the expected skills described in the role sheets, ed.) saw the last phases reprogrammed completely with Labor-b and conducted completely online.
I would say that we were pioneers, since we faced part of such a complex path in a completely new way!
Despite all the events, I believe that the results are in line with expectations; now it is up to all of us to take it one step further.
Today with a slightly more “rounded” situation we have to start reflecting on the step forward, which we had already begun to think of with Labor-b, to strengthen the main group of Key People in their way of working together, favor the initiative and stimulate the offer of contributions by all the figures involved.
Both my brother and I believe that the change in the way of understanding the company must not be the prerogative only of the Management, but must be supported by all the resources that work there. It is the only real guarantee of success and future consolidation of the company in the face of risks that we will have to learn to live with – whether they derive from market settlements, from political, health or economic situations – and towards which we will all have to strive to find quick and effective solutions.
Based on our experience, we believe that the company must be dynamic and know how to increase its collective awareness. If we want to progress, we should be prepared for other changes in the near future; while remaining cautious, we are confident and oriented towards positivity for the future.
Of course, motivations and knowledge, tools and the ability to look forward must be developed. Maybe we will never have a perfect organization but we have certainly set to work to improve ourselves.
In this perspective, we plan to make further work steps with Labor-b, perhaps by carrying out a company project with the supervision and facilitation of a dedicated coach.
The work must be aimed at implementing awareness, autonomy, decision-making capacity and resource efficiency with the goal of improving performance and synergies within the group.