Absolute Change Management was founded in 1999 and formally incorporated in 2002, by Dave Peters who was then joined by partner Dave Muir. Much different than the typical, sometimes top heavy, change management organizations and consultancies, the company is lean, built upon a philosophy that “recognizes that people are a large part of all business processes; that good relationships make processes work well.”
Absolute Change Management has enjoyed significant success, resulting from the successes of its clients. Its simple yet effective methods employ reason, opportunity and respect (ROR) to empower change in organizations and companies of varying sizes. ACM engages employees and management to undertake initiatives that encourage continuous change, long after its services have ceased.
“Change is difficult for people in the best of times, so the last thing they need is somebody coming along, driving change that makes it serious and adds another pressure point in their life. I don’t want to be that guy, and I don’t want ACM to be that company,” shares Peters. Peters and ACM want to spark change and motivate success through simple teaching, communication and problem-solving activities. The approach has led to great growth and success for ACM and its many clients.
It is its innovative approach to change, training and development within industry that differentiates ACM. “Our guiding principles, since 1999, have always been: if you want people to change, give them a reason to change, and then give them the opportunity to do so, respecting what it is that they are trying to achieve.” It is a passion for change that has helped ACM establish a reputation for success, directly attributable to the positive culture of company employees.
Michael Collini, a relatively new employee with ACM, believes the company gets, “the clients excited about change and empower them to innovate solutions to existing problems. Getting clients heavily involved results in ownership of the process so that the client will take on change projects of their own. We develop a culture of continuous improvement by making change achievable and fun.”
ACM will not simply tell a client what they want to hear. Change is difficult and takes significant efforts to achieve. ACM sheds light on an organization’s processes and where its opportunities lie, looking at problems differently, as a catalyst for change. After listening closely to the a client, ACM creates custom solutions that are tailored to the client’s specific problems and needs, presenting them in a comfortable environment, without the need for attributing blame for organizational shortcomings.
Peters, a former high school teacher with the unique ability to draw out the talents and strengths of people, has extensive international experience as a technical consultant, trainer and facilitator. He helps ACM to improve productivity levels and the nature of how work is done, ensuring more output and stronger results for clients.
As a certified Kolbe Conative Assessment facilitator and a leader in the development of positive interpersonal communication skills, Barb Peters brings another dimension to ACM’s leadership team, working to facilitate the building of strong relationships. “Our newest additions to the ACM team bring a fresh outlook and positive energy. Georges Rahayel is an Industrial Engineer with a Master’s degree in Energy and Sustainable Development focused on modeling processes and engaging workers in change. Michael Collini is a Materials Engineer with an MBA who has a passion for helping people recognize waste in their processes and drive innovative solutions.”
ACM teaches individuals and teams to see the business differently and identify waste and deviation in their processes and policies. Working with clients to build strong relationships to define problems and brainstorm solutions aids in fully engaging entire teams to be active parts of an organization’s collective success. ACM helps organizations become aware of strengths and common values.
Georges Rahayel, who has only worked with ACM for a few short months, has truly developed an understanding of the company culture and its approach to change. “Value starts with having everyone looking in the same direction. We work with everyone on establishing a common understanding of what the end goal is, before we start anything else. Often, we step into an environment where nobody on the floor understands what his or her contribution to the overall performance is.”
ACM works with its clients to implement change, rather than simply prescribing solutions and hoping that they will be implemented. By creating an environment of respect and open communication and providing a detailed analysis of a client’s operations, clients are challenged to act in their own best interest. Clients take on change for themselves by adopting simple solutions.
Relationship building is a large part of what ACM does, as the foundation of all high-functioning teams is a strong team-based environment, one that exists across all levels of an organization. ACM, according to its website, helps to, “create opportunities to replace frustration and anger with acceptance and good will, encouraging people to recognize and respect the differences and unique talents of their business colleagues.”
Building on its founding principles of reason, opportunity and respect, ACM brings knowledge and skills to its clients in order for them to see the business from a new perspective. “We often notice in manufacturing, that companies get really good at dealing with their routine faults and failings, for instance, rework. A lot of companies, instead of focusing on eliminating rework, have a well developed system in place to deal with it,” says Peters.
“An effective, engaging implementation of lean will drive engagement at all levels of the company, improve teamwork, establish procedures, clarify roles and responsibilities, develop pride and result in significant cost improvements,” says the company website. In addition to the implementation of relationship building and lean principles, ACM also provides services such as safety engagement in its clients’ internal responsibility systems to work towards injury-free workplaces.
ACM’s ALERT! safety program has been recognized by the Canadian Government National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) as a certifiable advancement in the psychology of safety. It is working towards improving safety performance as well as attitudes and acceptance of safe principles and practices. ACM can also help clients connect to government programs to help them obtain funding for additional development and growth.
‘The Dragon’ is a powerful tool for ACM and a catalyst for change. This unique approach to communication “is really designed to help people recognize the self-imposed barriers that they have created in the workplace, that may not exist. You know, the basic principle is that a dragon is a fictional character, yet somehow it has become very real in our world,” explains Peters. “In the same way, people create all sorts of dragons in their organizations, and our job is to help them recognize them.”
ACM helps companies to break down barriers to development. It implements solutions that are customized to the needs of the client. “We begin every engagement with a very straightforward and honest analysis of their organization. We need to understand what their goals are; what’s going to get in the way; and how we can help to engage people from all levels in a comprehensive plan which we call ‘the path forward,’” Peters describes.
The company focuses on leadership and team development, building lines of communication and systems of innovation within the processes it employs. ACM can help add value to any organization. Its clientele is primarily in the manufacturing industry, with a fraction of its business coming from government organizations and other service providers. Understanding that close to ten percent of manufacturing in Canada is not sustainable, ACM hopes to grow in line with the industries it serves.
One of its success stories is North Star Windows & Doors, a company that has a long-standing relationship with ACM. Ron Cauchi, CEO of North Star, was a client of ACM in his former workplace and carried his relationship with Peters and ACM with him when he joined the team at North Star. Having worked with North Star over the past year and a half, ACM has helped to prompt great changes and inspire continued innovation and growth in the organization.
“Our mission is always around our customer success. Our goal is to make people more successful than they were before they met us, both personally and professionally. I think that is what really pushes us in the right direction,” says Peters.
ACM has helped North Star to cut waste by fifty percent and improved its change-over time in another area by fifteen percent. Together with a team from North Star they have increased productivity in one aspect of production by thirty-five percent and are continuing efforts to do so across the organization.
“We are now engaging everyone in the vision and mission of North Star as leaders in their industry, helping them to drive innovation, engagement and continuous improvement. It is just an exceedingly exciting time for us with them because we are just seeing one result after the next,” says Peters. He is passionate about these successes and encouraged by the efforts being undertaken and the independent initiative his clients are taking and the positive culture it is creating.
ACM has a promising future, and Peters has intentions of doubling the organization’s size. The goal is to help bring success to its clients while helping to drive manufacturing in Canada to the point of sustainability. “We need to help them be more profitable and help to maintain a healthy manufacturing base in Canada,” he says.
“I want that for Canada and for the future of my own children,” he continues, citing a desire for ACM to become a foremost player in change management in North America.
“It is such a privilege to work with organizations like North Star and Andrew Peller Limited. You learn yourself, even though you are teaching them. You learn so much along the way. It becomes a dynamic, a two-way street, a truly integrated relationship.”