Challenge: The new Chairman & CEO of a successful mid-market electronics manufacturing company was at a turning point. The company had established aggressive growth targets despite a major downturn in their traditional market. In order to succeed he needed three division presidents accustomed to operating independently to significantly alter their working style. These executives, accustomed to working autonomously, were now being asked to work together as a team and respond collaboratively to the dramatically changing business environment. The Chairman & CEO knew he had to take a different approach to strategic planning after meetings he had led broke down because of arguments three times within the year.
How we helped: Rather than taking the “same old” approach to strategic planning that had led to the breakdowns, it was time to do something different. Collaborating with the CEO, we built on their planned visit to a major client event to design and lead a strategic thinking and planning retreat. However rather than focus on “the plan,” we focused on creating a safe environment to uncover the elephants in the room that were underlying the conflicts. To the executives’ surprise, they realized that the real issue behind the breakdowns was the need to face the unaddressed issues of leadership transition and the need to work as a team. Once the conversation happened, the newly forming executive team quickly agreed upon a shared vision and mission, and a specific plan for growth that would enable them to extend their existing technological strengths into completely new markets.
Results: Four years after the retreat, the CEO told us that the story of the retreat and the bold decisions and commitments made that day had become “company lore.” He related that that the company’s consistent over-achievement of its ambitious growth objectives over subsequent years could be traced to the decisions and commitments that were made at the retreat. The executive team became far more cohesive and momentum on their journey of growth dramatically increased. Company revenue had increased nearly seven-fold over four years, attesting to the lasting impact of our work together. Ten years after the retreat, company revenues had increased more than ten times.