A Key to Growth & Change

Kevin O'Gorman

October 21, 2020, 10:16:23 PM

A new executive leader cleaves through the muddle of a bitter, global merger by providing cross-functional forums for unity, authenticity, and direction.

Situation
A VP we had consulted with previously in a Fortune 20 company called us in for his new assignment. At his former organization, we had introduced an innovative way of thinking about globalization and change. Now, he was in charge of a much larger, and more fractured, global organization. His charter was to improve global systems, performance, efficiency, customer service, and substantially reduce costs – mostly through offshoring.

A Frankenstein of past mergers and acquisitions, the organization had widely disparate education levels, philosophies, histories, and cultures. A new and divisive merger added simmering resentment. Rumors of job loss, offshoring, and blatant skepticism about whether high levels of customer service could be replicated in other countries rounded out the list of challenges.

Approach
Realizing our client's organization had animosity, low trust, and little alignment little leverage, we designed a series of processes in an open forum for members worldwide. We focused on four themes: 1. globalization - how it works and how it affects us and our families; 2. how the nature of change has changed; 3. how people could develop new approaches to navigate globalization, ambiguity, and fear; and 4. how they could apply what they learned so they could focus on performance – together.

Over nine months, a thousand people across the globe participated in these forums. People voiced bitterness, resentment, hope, reason, and resolve as we worked through the issues described above. They felt heard. They found new ways to align on common ground. They saw each other as people beyond labels and assumptions. Together, they focused on a way forward.

Result

The result for leaders were new ways to frame the type of change and globalization necessary for business survival. This clearer, more accurate, communication led to more trust and effective leadership.

As leaders in other parts of the company realized they shared the same dilemma, we were able to serve several organizations from the SVP level to those on the front lines. People used our forums to air challenges, hopes, and grievances with their leaders, to rethink passionately held assumptions that were impeding their performance, and to learn new tools for the changes ahead.

Regional locations that had bitterly opposed each other began to work together as they better understood each others’ worlds. The changes leaders were making started to make sense. People were able to manage their anxiety about change, work together, and focus on customers and results.

The company received the J.D. Power and Associates’ Certified Technology Service and Support certification for providing an outstanding customer service experience. They continued to reduce costs and increase profits and revenue as the new operating model became the new normal.