High Stakes Organizational Leadership to Stop Internal Competition
A high tech firm with international sites was in disarray. They were losing money, had a history of 7 layoffs reducing from 1500 to approximately 400 people. There was fear by the remaining engineers that the revenue targets were not achievable, which would prompt another round of layoffs, and the market and economy were bad.
They had talented design engineers located across the globe; however, they competed with each other for survival. Each thought they were the only site that mattered and the only site that was making money.
In fact, each site that thought that way was losing money and eventually did close. The current structure was not feasible and the management team was viewed as polarized with low confidence in their ability to lead the organization to success. Tentative organizational decisions led to tentative behavior.
The attempted solution before calling Steven Feinberg, Inc.: The Senior Executive had a vision for the future that was compelling, depending on how well the remaining engineers aligned. A strategy was needed along with an implementation process. The attempts before bringing Steven Feinberg, Inc. on was to keep romancing the future while everyone was unwittingly denying and distorting the current reality. Contentious issues were avoided, hoping they would disappear when they saw what a great future could be if they only just got along and made decisions that would optimize the entire division instead of individual business centers. The groups continued to justify their pet projects and acted in their local best interest.
In collaboration with the Senior Executive and VP HR we ran a strategic offsite. Ground rules were established and adhered to, a new organizational structure was agreed upon with roles and responsibilities explained, and leadership behavior for the transformation clarified. A road map and action plan with accountabilities was thoughtfully constructed to build momentum, forward movement, and alignment. Decisions that had caused problems in the past, because they were all locally determined, were now based upon an established hierarchy of importance. Managers knew what was most important and could make trade offs, keeping in mind the overall strategic objective.
The offsite was a success not just in the meeting, but because it designed an ongoing implementation plan. It was not a fly-by meeting; it addressed reality. Managers who had been at prior offsites said this was fundamentally different. It was real, it was functional, and it worked. Momentum was built and, paradoxically, instead of dissension between the managers, they worked well together. A message to the employees to enroll them in the new plan was constructed with complete and congruent buy-in by all managers. The Senior Executive and VP HR said it was the home run they wanted. We established a performance structure that would work.