Long standing business models quickly become obsolete in today’s environment of rapid, disruptive change.  Focused and ongoing organizational evolution is a critical ingredient in a winning company formula.

Situation and Complication
A consumer products company was preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary. While solidly profitable with several growing business lines, to continue growing and meeting the challenges of the future marketplace, the overall organization needed to change the central focus of the employee population.

The company had traditionally operated as a product centric organization. The central focus of the business was to build the best products and operate as efficiently as possible to deliver product to customers. That formula had been successful for many years and was strongly rooted in the culture; the product development function was the preeminent group and drove much of the organizational ethos and operational calendar. Customer needs and wants were rarely discussed, the prevailing mindset was “build it and they will come”.

However, the marketplace was changing rapidly and dramatically. Customer needs and how they wanted to interact with the company were shifting and the company needed to make changes to compete successfully. It was clear to the senior leader that the prior winning formula needed to evolve to survive in the new reality.  The company needed to shift from the long-standing product development mindset to a customer centric organization that better understood/anticipated customer needs and reacted more coherently to those requirements.

Approach
Led by a Navigare principal, a multi-pronged effort was launched to build new capabilities and a new organizational mindset.  A steering committee was established to bring key stakeholders to the table and begin to establish buy in across the organization.

The first step in the transformation was a focused and relentless communication plan that communicated the “why” and “how” of the transformation through multiple channels – written, small group and large group presentations and discussions.

Next, a comprehensive new organizational development program was established that proactively identified employee capabilities to utilize in the transformation as well as identify capability holes to be developed internally or sourced externally.  A comprehensive short and long range goal setting program was established to ensure that employees were focused universally and collaboratively on the necessary transformational activities.

New business intelligence tools were quickly and cost effectively implemented and a new customer focused research function was built to provide the tools and insights needed to evolve.

Employee engagement and understanding was benchmarked through anonymous online surveys and then monitored with quarterly surveys to understand progress against benchmarks.

Lastly, a series of organizational “challenges” was instituted to promote new employee behaviors that supported the customer centric goals.  As an example, a challenge was created to set up customer call monitoring sessions where all employees listened to customer order and service calls remotely to build customer insights and model the new employee behaviors around customer focus that needed to develop across the company.

Outcome
While still a work in progress (the evolution will never end), significant improvement in employee engagement was observed within a few months.  Employee engagement and customer understanding grew quickly. Improved customer surveys with better question designed to elicit more actionable information were implemented.  As a result of the new insights gleaned, several new marketing initiatives that reached new audiences and generated incremental revenue and profit were implemented.