The challenge

One of the world’s largest international tire companies needed to redesign their entire IT organization from the ground up to remain competitive in a market where data and technology are critical business assets in even the most industrial of sectors. But what leadership quickly came to realize was that the subtle science of designing an operating model was soon to be the least of their roadblocks.

Oftentimes, large companies that refuse to change with the growing pace of their industry slowly become obsolete. On the contrary, those companies that pride themselves as leaders in their industry are under constant pressure to innovate and provide disruptive solutions to their marketplace. As a pioneer in the tire and diversified rubber manufacturing industry with a massive data infrastructure and increasing customer support demands, our client’s IT department realized that in order to remain an industry leader, they needed to redesign their entire operating model. This was accomplished by restructuring the organizational ‘blueprint’ from the top down and enabling the organization to operate more effectively with few management layers and a more robust forward-thinking approach to IT service and delivery. Leadership felt confident that the new operating model would propel the organization into the future; however, after several previous attempts at reorganization, many impacted employees or “teammates” were both skeptical and weary of constant change efforts. In essence, the entire organization was suffering from significant change fatigue due to years of leadership turnover, changes in strategic vision and competing organizational priorities. After successfully establishing the new structure, the leadership team realized that in order to capitalize on their investment and ensure the new operating model would be accepted and embraced by their employees, they needed to ensure that the “latest” change effort would not be perceived by the employees as “business as usual”. Leadership realized that any substantial resistance to the new model could have a significant and long-lasting negative impact to the business, continuity of operations, and teammate morale.

As a client, I didn’t just benefit from their exemplary performance–LeapPoint also helped us establish a clear vision and, most importantly, a shared understanding or what success meant to all...

The approach

Several months prior to the completion of the new organization model, the client established a highly choreographed implementation process that would enable the organization to properly incorporate the new changes while systematically addressing residual risks and potential people issues surrounding role changes, communications, and continuity of operations issues. This process involved three critical areas: Communications, Inclusion, and Training.

Communications

In previous change efforts, the organization tended to overlook one of the most basic yet critical ways of managing an effective transition: a communication plan that specifically targets employees’ needs. For this effort, the client incorporated a multi-phased approach to message the transformation effort. These methods included the development of an implementation-specific portal that could be easily accessed by all members of the organization. The site contained project background information, iteratively designed organization charts, feedback mechanisms, and weekly executive blogs that addressed teammate questions, feedback regarding the changes and rumors.

Inclusion

A critical component to the success of the transformation effort was proper inclusion of the teammates during the critical staffing decision points within the implementation. This approach enabled equal treatment amongst the staff by leadership and eliminated potential ‘surprises’ during each phase. This was accomplished via the following steps: iterative reveal of the leadership structure in order to ensure that various layers of management could provide input into the selected team; career interest surveys (CIS) provided to the staff in order to gauge interest and direction for decision-making; one-on- one meetings between all managers and staff to further gauge interest and ‘interview’ for current, existing, or newly created positions; intensive staff selection workshops utilizing stringent guidelines and internal models in order to ensure selection consistency; and prioritization of remaining open positions.

Training & guidance

Once transition activities were finalized, the client leveraged guidance from multiple sources to support ongoing efforts to train and provide knowledge transfer for impacted teammates. One of the most critical was the establishment of an IT Academy that focused on critical enabling strategies within the curriculum such as People Development, Strategic Thinking, and Enterprise Perspective. The Academy also serves the organization as a standardized mechanism to ensure new organizational protocols are understood, promoted, and bought into.

The outcome

The project was finalized in late 2014, so benefits of the organizational transformation will be realized over the coming month and years beginning in early 2015. As of now, the client’s IT department is poised to realize their strategic principles of becoming a top-notch, world class IT organization.

By providing teammates with the confidence and ability to better serve the business in their new organization roles and structure the client was able to successfully implement their new organization without impacting business operations. The main outcome was that leadership felt the initiative was well orchestrated and the teammates found the process to be very fair and supportive despite it being a daunting undertaking.  This was due in part to the transparency during the implementation and, most notably, the focus on the role and not the person which made any adverse changes  less personal. Additionally, support was provided to any employee whose role was rationalized, giving them the opportunity to apply to other jobs within the organization, receive HR focused coaching and engagement, and lastly providing placement services in advance. As a result, most displaced staff were already placed before their severance packages ran out.   This may seem like a small thing, but it was highly regarded within the company as they are a community- and people-focused organization.

  • People
    • Confidence in approach and execution
    • Role alignment with career interests
    • Career development planning and support

  • Process
    • Consistent and transparent process
    • Objective versus subjective selection
    • Cascading staff selection through layers

  • Technology
    • Improved IT alignment with business needs
    • Enterprise architecture focus
    • Enhanced business accountability