“We have got to get better at change,” said Paul at the senior management retreat, as he realized that another year had passed and they were still talking about the same strategic initiatives they had been discussing for the last three years. Adding to Paul’s growing frustration, the initiatives with the greatest momentum had so far produced substantial expenses and no visible returns. He resolved at that meeting to form a team of high-profile individuals to lead strategic improvements.
With a strong track record with clients and a tenured workforce, Paul’s company had dominated the construction industry in the Southwest states for decades. As the COO of a successful company with a rich 100-year legacy, his job was to ensure continuing operational excellence. Change was something to handle carefully, with prudence and discretion. However, recent shifts in the economic climate had increased the executive team’s appetite for change.
To address these growing concerns, Paul appointed Richard, a resourceful person to be Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives chairing a newly formed Strategic Implementation Team. The team included representatives from the main operational units and corporate functions. They met monthly for most of the day to identify, prioritize and champion strategic initiatives. Richard, under Paul’s mentoring, focused on facilitating an effective idea prioritization process.
Soon Richard realized that to succeed in his job, the team needed a change management process. Ascent Advisor taught the Strategic Implementation team and all senior managers the Ascent Process tailored to the company’s culture. To test the Ascent Process, the Strategic Implementation team applied it to a current strategic initiative that was in trouble. Immediately, the Ascent Process helped clarify the project’s mission, define the project’s spiraling scope and evaluate the return of the investment. With a well-defined project charter, the Ascent Process helped identify the right sponsors and champions for the project. The Ascent Process brought a more disciplined approach to implementing strategic change.
Based on an initial success, Ascent Advisor helped create a broader group of change champions across the company that helped implement improvements. Ascent Advisor trained the change champions on the process, skills and tools for implementing improvements. Change Champions became valuable and influential resources bringing up ideas for improvement to the Strategic Implementation team, and helping implement the most promising ideas in their respective areas. The Ascent process was the common framework for planning, communicating and adopting the improvements.
The executive team gained visibility on the company’s strategic projects as they could evaluate proposals based more on the value of the idea rather than who was behind the idea. This transparency allowed the executive team to decide more effectively which initiatives were worth pursuing and which ones to stop. Monthly strategic review meetings reported measurable progress on the strategic initiatives. Everyone was able to see a snapshot of the current status of the strategic initiatives.
With the help of Ascent Advisor, Richard was able to implement critical projects that resulted in over $ 2 million in revenue growth and cost savings during its first year and significant recurring value over time. Within a year, the company made significant improvements, leading to a record year in revenue. Besides showing measurable progress on the key initiatives, Paul noticed that employees were transformed in a more significant way. They had gained confidence in their capacity to realize their success.