After a merger, the new Division CEO & General Manager was responsible for the integration of two cultures and for overseeing the transition of joining a non-profit organization with a for-profit business with 900 employees and about $1 billion in revenue. He also had to produce unprecedented business results—which could only be achieved by guiding the integrated organization through a cultural transformation.
This is a great story. Read it through to the end. The division partnered with Company to achieve the following outcomes based on Six Strategic Business Goals:
1. Increase operating profits to $14 million.
2. Reduce operating costs from 18% to 7%.
3. Increase service quality rating to 96 (out of 100) by year end.
4. Increase workplace quality rating to 60 (out of 100) on a national Great Place to Work survey, compared to 50 previously.
5. Become leaders in the local community by launching a successful Industry Forum.
6. Create visible processes for project management and workflow prioritization.
The process transformed the organization in the following dimensions, consistent with the company’s commitment to establishing a culture that was “fast, focused, flexible, and fun”:
This change initiative drew attention to the gaps and inconsistencies in the organizational infrastructure—including systems and processes—which enabled them to be more quickly integrated and regionalized. The initiative also identified the frontline leaders in the workforce, most of whom were promoted to managers. It made working for the organization less desirable for people who were unproductive, and many left voluntarily. A year later the company was chosen as one of the Top 10 “Best Companies to Work For” by a prominent business magazine. The cultural changes also spread to other divisions of the company.
The engagement began with a cultural assessment. That was followed by a series of NOW Project workshop-laboratory sessions and the formation of cross-functional NOW teams that received regular coaching.
Company conducted a “Readiness for Change Assessment” to gauge the organizational culture and its readiness for change, including the barriers and catalysts for change. The assessment identified the following barriers:
The assessment also identified the following catalysts:
Company, in partnership with the organization’s management team, conducted the NOW Projects process to achieve aggressive, strategic business goals while transforming the culture to one that was consistent with the for-profit company. They formed cross-functional NOW teams to address each of the six strategic business goals, providing clear, shared direction and focus. The initiative entailed an integrated process of interviews, meetings, and workshops facilitated by consultants for efficiency and effectiveness, and coaching of teams and individuals. An Oversight Team of consultants and managers provided guidance.
The NOW Projects process included:
In addition to achieving the quantitative outcomes already mentioned, NOW Projects had a profound, qualitative impact on the organizational culture, improving associates’ collective ability to think and act “outside the box.” Creative, exuberant associates produced inspired results. NOW Projects broke down artificial walls and ceilings in the organization, stimulated rapid prototyping and fast feedback, increased goal awareness, and allowed natural leaders to emerge from the frontlines of the workforce. Visitors often commented on the new “look and feel” of the work environment. This included visual displays, such as colorful team exhibits along the “Wall of NOW” or the video monitor showing the uproarious All-Associate meetings. There was also the noisy enthusiasm in the Call Center, the “theme lunches” in the cafeteria with employees in costume, and the frequent team celebrations of large and small successes. Here are some quotes:
_“I never expected there would be such a cultural revolution in just 6 months. I’m really glad I didn’t leave.”_
_“The NOW methodology has affected everything we do and how we think. The very first thing I think about in approaching my work is how to make it NOW”_
_“It’s actually fun coming to work now. This would not have happened without NOW teams.”_
_“It’s never an ordinary week at work. One day a high school marching band is parading through the customer service center to celebrate a profitable year; another day a small plane is circling the parking lot with a banner congratulating us for hitting a quality goal!”_
_“I often request a video of the All-Associates Meeting so I can entertain my family with the outrageous skits of the NOW teams and they can see for themselves what a fun place it is where their Mom works.”_
_“As a customer I had problems for years with the customer service reps but that’s gone. I can tell it’s a different company now.”_
As a result of using NOW Projects to meet strategic business goals, associates have learned to embrace accountability, to operate from a team mindset, to express their passion in their work, to dazzle their customers, and to enable their organization to earn a significant profit. NOW Projects have helped create a fast, focused, flexible, fun culture, consistent with the vision of the for-profit company. Customers have been the ultimate beneficiaries of the NOW initiative and have consistently communicated that to the company. Organizational change pursued for its own sake isn’t likely to have this kind of dramatic impact on business performance. Achieving such demanding goals isn’t likely to happen through business-as-usual performance, inadequate infrastructure, and a risk-averse, process-oriented culture. It is the focus of organizational change on business goals that is required to realize breakthrough performance and bring about a lasting cultural transformation.