Case Study-Global Operations Manager-Retail Company
The Global Operations manager for an upscale niche global retail business was embroiled in as fast-paced a corporate environment as I have ever seen. He was the poster child for living in a VUCA reality of volatility, uncertainty, chaos, and ambiguity. Almost monthly he received completely new directions from senior leadership. Sometimes those directions gave his team a new mission, different members, or even physically relocated his group.
One day in an effort to standardize operations and reduce the multiple ways of doing business from one site to the next, the senior leaders implemented some new policies. In the long term, the change in procedures would have destroyed the upscale niche business that the Global Manager and his team had worked so hard to create and bring to a high level of success. Although the changes may have been beneficial for the routine clients of the business, he was certain that the distinctives he had created over the years were essential to retaining his high end customer base. Loss of this line of business would likely result in significant financial loss, the very outcome the company wanted to prevent.
- We showed the Global Operations Manager how to re-position himself as a strategic thought leader with relevant information and input
- He created and presented a business case that showed the financial, cultural, and historical information relevant to retaining and growing his line of business and the risks of failing to continue what was working well
- The senior leaders in his organization immediately implemented The Global Manager’s recommendations for the high end niche business
- He was retained in the company as a valuable leader
This case shows that influence can happen at all stages and that leaders at all levels of the business have unique expertise that may need to be heard. With creativity and possibility thinking leaders can make a difference even when it seems the doors are all closed. We showed this leader how to access that possibility thinking more quickly and then to execute in a way that got favorable results. Prior to our conversations the Global Operations Manager wasn’t sure how to continue to add value and thought that his best option was to look for another job outside of the company.
Case Study-Plant Manager-Manufacturing Company
When we started working with the Plant Manager of a large global American manufacturing company that had a long history of success, the company was going through a turbulent time characterized by radical downsizing and significant resource constraints. The company was looking for ways to cut costs and remain solvent through difficult times. The Plant manager was seen as a good manager and a talented thinker especially about operations. His mandate was to become more strategic in his view and to regularly consider an enterprise-wide perspective rather than to only focus on his silo in the organization.
Since the Plant Manager had more than 25 years of manufacturing experience and a keen mind for operations he often had great ideas and knew what needed to be done next. What he lacked was the ability to influence others who might not yet see the vision that he could see so clearly. His natural style was to advocate for what he thought was the best solution which often led to polarizing others and delaying the implementation or adoption of what really were excellent ideas.
- We showed the Plant Manager how to influence key stakeholders to consider his ideas on how to use a vacant warehouse
- He created a strategic Stakeholder influence plan and used a stakeholder map to identify which players to approach and in which order
- He used role plays with us to practice key conversations in advance
- The Plant Manager learned to listen to understand, how to partner, collaborate, and co-create with others
- He also learned how to uncover the needs of others to ensure mutually beneficial solutions
- The Plant Manager and his stakeholders co-created a plan for how to best use the vacant warehouse space thus freeing the company from costly monthly rental fees
- He established himself as a partner with great and mutually beneficial ideas
He ultimately learned that a more open approach brought better ideas to the table and fostered greater cooperation with peers. In the past these same peers resisted his suggestions or advocated for other competing priorities. By working together in a different way, they created a win-win solution that neither of them would have thought about on their own and they saved the company a lot of money.
Case Study-Asia Pacific HR VP-Global Financial Services
A Chinese national based in Shanghai was the Asia Pacific HR VP for a major US based global Financial Services organization. She had a total of seven direct reports one of whom was an older and experienced male leader in Japan. The Japanese office, a recent acquisition, had their own autonomous ways of doing business and was known for their business acumen and success. The Global Financial services company wanted to streamline processes and roll out uniform ways of doing business across the globe.
The HR VP’s job was to explain the new policies to her Japanese direct report and to get those policies implemented in Japan.
In previous meetings with her direct report she laid out the requirements from the company and expected him to implement the directives. Despite being verbally agreeable, her direct report never implemented the stated plans. The HR VP tried a number of techniques and strategies all of which failed to produce the desired results. Since her direct report was a seasoned and experienced leader and was more than 15 years older than her, the HR VP felt compelled to be respectful of his knowledge, expertise, and track record; however, she was frustrated by her inability to get action on implementation of the new HR policies.
- We showed the HR VP how to adopt a more interactive coaching approach that kept her direct report in the leadership role though holding him accountable for results.
- She learned to use open-ended questions and natural curiosity to explore issues from his perspective
- She also learned to facilitate her direct report’s ability to articulate the next steps forward
Successful intervention in this case required sensitivity to two very different Asian cultures, age and gender differences, and understanding the dynamics unique to the challenges of mergers and acquisitions. In addition, the work was conducted in a virtual context thus adding more complexity.
- Unique circumstances and barriers for Japan were uncovered
- Best Practices success strategies in Japan were identified and shared with other regions
- Realistic and co-created options were used to successfully implement the global plan in Japan