Changing the course of a large corporate concern is like turning a passenger cruise ship: even with the most dedicated crew, there are physical laws which constrain the overall rate of change. Enterprises may wish to pursue solid new strategies, but Slaughter Development provides consulting and implementation services on how to re-factor existing internal systems to improve productivity and satisfaction. Big business can distinctly benefit from methodology engineering due to the existing organizational structure into departments, teams and work areas. Our team prefers to focus on small, fairly discrete business units in turn, identifying and removing bottlenecks which affect the larger organization. This allows middle managers to transform their respective domains and contribute more effectively to the larger organization.
Challenges for Enterprises
While no two large companies are identical, virtually all are plagued by the interplay of two opposing forces. First: the critical importance of employees. As stated in the book Stakeholder Power by Steven Walker and Jeffrey Marr, “the pendulum is shifting from workers being thought of expendable during the past twenty years to workers becoming virtually indispensible today.” Second: the typical workplace tenure is dropping. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the length of the average stay at a company has decreased by 65% from 1983 to 2008. This is the chief organizational challenge for large companies: they recognize people as more essential than ever before, yet these same employees are remaining at the same firm for shorter and shorter terms.
Major corporate enterprises must make process improvement one of their core values. Positive change must come from all directions in the organization, and individual stakeholders should feel empowered to improve tools and services that enable them to complete work. The fast pace of business and the rapid turnover of highly skilled employees represents a serious threat to productivity and efficiency. Jack Welch, the former powerhouse behind General Electric, quipped that “If the rate of change inside an organization is less than the rate of change outside…their end is in sight.” Organizations must actively focus on self-improvement or face extinction.
Consider the case of a Fortune 1000 company who recently acquired several competitors:
When measured by the new cars in the company parking lot, the buyout was a financial success. But the engineering team was concerned about the new properties acquired in the transaction. Were they stable? Reliable? Could they be easily integrated with other systems? Worse, nobody was even ready to talk about mixing cultures. With the sales division working to streamline and expand product lines, the product development team started to panic.
Before processes and tools could be reengineered to meet the needs of life after the merger, stakeholders needed to move past emotional reactions towards reality. Two sides started to appear. Arguments flared up. Management was unsure how to react, because old loyalities might influence any technical analysis of the problem.
Instead, the company retained an outside consulting firm to study and resolve the issue. First, the contractor produced a comprehensive technical report of the existing properties with executive summaries for non-technical managers, and pursued sign-off from all stakeholders. This provided a body of evidence for future discussions. Second, new processes were established to begin steadily moving the disparate product lines into a new, integrated research and development program. Although the adoption occured in small chunks and took several months, by the end of the cycle all members of the team were working together and felt a sense of joint ownership. There were no orphaned products, which gave management, sales and customers increased confidence that the merger benefited everyone.
Whether you are an employee, a manager, a department, division leader or executive, contact Slaughter Development today to arrange for an initial meeting. We look forward to working with you!