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Case Study: Ripple Junction Sees Success

October 10, 2020


Ripple Junction,  a leading designer and developer of pop-culture licensed merchandise, started to experience severe growing pains in 2016.

Before so-called pop-up stores were popular, Ripple Junction began selling T-shirts out of a van at a Grateful Dead concert in 1992. Almost three decades later, Ripple was experiencing exponential growth conducting business out of a 60,000 square-foot design and distribution center in West Chester, OH.

Like most organizations, growth came with its own set of challenges. By 2018, Ripple was in turmoil. Their business was booming, but their operations and culture were suffering: from late shipments, disgruntled clients and stressed-out employees, to misaligned goals and metrics that nobody trusted.

Fast forward to today — Ripple Junction is a fun, energetic, and thriving business where its employees love coming to work, processes are standardized, metrics are aligned, and their employees feel successful every day.

So, what changed?

Find out as Neil Hoynes, the founder of Ripple Junction, along with the Ripple Junction team, share their stories of growth and transformation below. Learn how Ripple Junction conquered business challenges that arose from phenomenal business success and discover critical insights that you can immediately apply in your organization.

The Key to Operational Excellence

From siloed teams, poor communication and lack of specialization to structure and SMEs (Subject Matter Experts), the Ripple team members went from chaos to controlled growth in less than a year.

The key to operational success is based on several factors, but the consistent model between a successful organization and a stressed organization typically lies in where and how an organization’s leaders are spending their time.

Operational excellence begins by getting leadership out of the run, allowing middle managers to work on process improvement and freeing upper management to work on growth strategies.

Results of Operational Excellence

Teams become empowered to make decisions, put out fires without management assistance, and become proactive vs. reactive. Open lines of communication allow teams to see who has the heavier loads and where others can step in to help. These shifts have a huge impact and cut down on waste.

Brainstorming vs. Try-storming

What is try-storming, and why you should embrace it?

Try-storming is about taking action. If you have goals and metrics and a vision for where you want to go – you act on it and put it in place. From there, additional ideas come in to play that allow you to move the bar even further.

A note of caution: If a try-storming effort doesn’t work, your reaction to the situation is crucial to the success of the team and your ability to empower them to make and test decisions on their own. If you overreact to a bad decision, you will inevitably shut down the team member who proposed the suggestion, therefore disrupting the effectiveness and trust the team has in expressing ideas and testing new solutions.

Effective Run Improve Grow Huddles 

One of the first initiatives of any of Run Improve Grow project is the implementation of daily RIG Huddles. RIG Huddles are used to pull individual teams (often departments or functional groups) together to discuss what is going well and what needs improvement and to gather try-storming ideas for process improvement.

Your teams will use this time every day to discuss issues and come up with ideas to fix them on their own. Often, someone might have a problem that the rest of the team didn’t know existed. The RIG Huddle allows everyone to weigh in and come up with solutions to try to resolve issues. A RIG Huddle is a safe place.

Empowering Your Teams

The most significant part of any business transformation is the empowerment of the team. Empowering your team means that you, as a leader, trust your team to make decisions. You give them the flexibility to test and try solutions (try-storm) to improve the daily operations of your business. An empowered workforce starts making decisions based on how everything affects the other – from department to department, and individual to individual. By giving your team leeway and the confidence to try-storm, you are empowering them to think and grow on their own, develop better systems for your organization, and ultimately create a culture of continuous improvement.

Become a Fearless Organization Through Education & Talent Development

With growth comes change. If you do not focus on the primary assets of your organization (your PEOPLE) your culture, quality and effectiveness suffer. Ripple Junction was experiencing tremendous success but failing at keeping up with the needs of their employees. Their employees felt nothing was in their own control – from their career path to their daily activities.

The result? A lot of finger-pointing, bottle necks, disgruntled customers and employees who felt overworked, burnt-out and tired. See how our exclusive Fearless Leadership program and a conscious focus on Strategic HR initiatives led Ripple to transform their business resulting in a culture of continuous improvement, transparency, and freedom for the frontline.

Making Better, Faster Decisions through Trusted Data

Ripple Junction looks at the importance of understanding, trusting, and using your data to drive future growth.

  • How do you take a review-mirror look at your business to help you make decisions and drive a future state?
  • How do you use data to empower the daily operations of the business?
  • How can you develop and monitor a product purchasing plan for your customers?
  • How do you enable your e-commerce department to optimize their ad spend?
  • How do you keep data forefront in the minds of not only your leaders but your teams?

Effective Run Improve Grow Huddles and Coaching

For organizations who think they have tried everything to get their organization aligned, think again. It all starts with the basics: improving communication through daily interactions and building trust through coaching and mentoring.

RIG Huddles are a unique communication tool that aid in creating sustainable, cultural changeOur huddles help your organization build trust, learn how to listen, and create a safe space for people to be empowered to drive change, make mistakes, and think of crazy, bold ideas.

Along with our huddles, our coaching programs offer the next step in transforming your organization one leader at a time. Your role as a leader is to remove obstacles for your team to make sure they have everything they need to succeed. Through coaching, we help you discover your gaps and help you create sustainable behaviors to overcome your shortcomings, allowing you to drive your team to succeed.

Learn about our Human Resources Strategy and Operations & Process Improvement services.

All content provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Matters discussed in this article are subject to change. For up-to-date information on this subject please contact a Clark Schaefer Hackett professional. Clark Schaefer Hackett will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within these pages or any information accessed through this site.


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