Cawthron Institute is New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation, offering a broad spectrum of services to help protect the environment and support sustainable development of primary industries. They are a diverse organisation employing around 200 scientists, laboratory technicians, researchers and specialist staff from more than 20 different countries. Cawthron has grown significantly in recent years as their science and expertise have become increasingly sought after.

Cawthron engaged LMAC to support them on their Continuous Improvement journey called “ACE” Achieving Continuous Excellence. They realised that they would need a strong strategy model to guide them towards their vision.

Cawthron have a clear vision:

“To deliver world class science that builds a better future for New Zealand”

LMAC have been working with Cawthron to develop a strategy and plans, mapping out how to step closer to this vision. The case study below gives an overview of the process and the benefits realised.


“Our (Cawthron’s) traditional strategy sessions had involved us sitting in a room and debating what we needed to do to achieve our goals. The problem was that when we left the room and went back to our day jobs, all the activities discussed were forgotten”

This is a common problem with companies deploying strategy. They have a lovely two day retreat in a nice location to discuss, debate and hopefully agree on some activities to drive the business forward. Unfortunately, this is where it stops as they fail to put it place a clear structure to execute the plans.


Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound) objectives

We broke the vision down into clear annual SMART objectives. Without these in place strategy brainstorming sessions are loose and can easily go off topic.

Identify the key Initiatives to deliver the objectives

LMAC facilitated a group brainstorming session with the correct stakeholders where we identified and prioritised the key initiatives that would allow us to achieve our objectives. 

“The whole team felt involved and engaged. Everyone had an opportunity to put forward their ideas. The process allowed us to debate these ideas and challenge each other in a structured way against the desired objectives. When we had finished, we had a set of initiatives we had all bought into and we believed could be delivered by the team.”

Develop detailed plans

The next step was to widen the team and involve more stakeholders in building the detailed plans. These plans set out how the initiatives will be delivered and the team responsible for the actions.

“It was invigorating to leave the session with concrete plans showing how we can be part of delivering the objectives”

“Our team truly believe that they can achieve the plans and are motivated to make them happen”

“It is the first time we had clear plans showing how we are going to get closer to our vision. Previously we had spoken about the goals and what needed doing but it all got drowned out by business as usual.”

Communication and company wide engagement

Once all the plans were completed it was then time to communicate to all staff and gain their buy in towards making it happen. LMAC’s communication method is a continuous process throughout the year to reinforce the strategy, update on progress and the upcoming activities. It is not just a briefing at the start of the year. Staff are included and involved in delivering the actions that support the initiatives, which spreads the workload and gains commitment.

“For the first time, I had people coming to me asking to be involved in some of the initiatives.”

“We can see what we need to do each week to achieve the objectives.”

Deploy the plans

The final step was to put in place the visual controls and management systems required to realise the objectives set out. LMAC supported Cawthron to set up a robust review framework that allowed us to effectively manage the workload, resolve issues quickly and work cohesively as a team.

“The review framework allowed us to identify areas where we were falling behind or risks occurred. We could then agree on how to resolve these as a team and put the correct steps in place to fix them”

“Having clear measures of success in place helped us to clearly see when we had successfully completed an initiative. It also prompted us to stand back, recognise our success and celebrate as a team”

“The engagement model that LMAC use has worked incredibly well for us. They understand that every organisation has its own challenges and have worked closely with us to develop our own bespoke solutions and practices.

The proof that this has worked is in the tangible ownership that radiates from our people at all levels and the way we are sustaining the changes that are being made. Working with the LMAC team to implement these changes has been a lot of fun for us all!”

Paul Parker – Senior Head Chemistry – Cawthron



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E: enquiries@Lmacuk.co.uk 


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