In 2019 we began working with a manufacturing firm that employs roughly one thousand people. They had a 50-page strategy, but its execution wasn’t being adopted throughout its departments or its local affiliates. As a result, they were seeing significant turnover, a lack of strong identity (both internally and externally), and an executive team that wasn’t functioning at a high level. The VP Finance had painted a stark reality for them. Margins had been declining for four consecutive years and they were on pace to show significant losses in 2019 and into 2020.
The question we were asked by their CEO was, “Why isn’t this working?”
We began this project with an executive session where the problem was identified through a facilitated process. This reveal was confronted in discomfort, and, as it so often does, resulted in finger pointing between executives and departments.
Our goal was to help them create a strategy that was digestible and relevant to all teams and local branches. We worked with them to establish clear goals for their customers, staff, operations, and their bottom line, and helped them put a stake in the ground on the business results that they would fight for, including financial results, staff engagement, and customer loyalty. Through the process, they created a powerful statement of intent. This was referred to as Mission 2020.
With clear outcomes in mind, they tackled the bigger question of what they needed to get right to achieve these results. This culminated in the creation of four Strategic Imperatives, each with a statement of intent. Those imperatives were:
- Entrench sales behaviours and introduce a new pricing model.
- First time right from order entry to delivery.
- Build executive and senior leadership capability and sense of team.
- Identify and act on opportunities for operational efficiency.
Underneath each imperative was a series of activities that would require individual actions. All of this was distilled into a one-page strategy that could be understood and acted on throughout the enterprise.
The question then became, how would they bring the strategy to life throughout the organization?
We facilitated sessions with each department, from sales, to marketing, to operations. These groups needed strategic context and a voice in determining the action plans. This input was critical. These were the groups who would ultimately bring this strategy to life. It is the purview of senior leadership to identify high level pursuits. But success would only come if the people responsible for delivery had a hand in determining action items.
We also asked them to give input into the other departments – by way of “key considerations” – which uncovered tensions and broken processes between them. Significant efforts were made to create understanding of the challenges faced by other departments and to see how they could better align in pursuit of their goals. Not only did they want and need an environment where the right hand knew what the left hand was doing, but they needed to be operating in harmony as one unit. They came together as one large team, operating as a single unit.
With nine regional offices, it was important for us to take the one-page strategy and test its relevancy with the sales field. Aligning to the brand’s mission and vision, each region was able to adapt the strategy to their local needs.
This was not a pivot. This became a transformation. The manufacturer turned themselves around in only six months; financially, operationally, and culturally. They faced the challenges of Covid-19 with the same sense of intentionality and have emerged a better company. In the post Covid environment, they are positioned to achieve record profitability through engaged and inspired staff serving loyal customers.