By switching from 'I-management' to 'T-management' the management group took the development of their organization in their own hands
May 30, 2011 at 2:43am
After taking over a company, senior management realized that investing in technical projects alone would not make the difference. The organization had to be transformed, starting with the leadership. Therefore 'T-management' was introduced. To a management role with an 'I'-shape with only technics in it, two arms were added: an arm for 'organization' and one arm for 'people'
- A Premium Car manufacturer acquired a Brussels based factory from the Concern to produce it's newest model . It has now some 2500 staff members and its mission is to produce the small premium segment of Audi.
- The former factory is based in Brussels since 1949 and is part of the Concern since 1970.
- Due to the overcapacity of in the previous car range the factory underwent some dramatical changes in 2006-2007: closing down and restarting with only 2200 of the 6000 staff members left.
- This factory underwent a physical transformation in the first place: 200 million euros invested in 116 technical projects.
- The most deeply felt change however is the new culture , with a combined focus on customer delight, premium quality and working in teams
- After more tha 3 years of ongoing efforts, the transfomation is beyond the point of no return. The focus of organization development for the next two years is on bringing all management practices to a premium level, based on a broader conception of the role of management: technics + organization + people.
- This acquisition of the Brussels based factory was the first acquisition abroad for the car manufaturer. A new approach was necessary.
- Senior management soon discoverd that 'things did not work out as they planned'. In other words: they discovered the - sometimes disrupting - force of a company culture already in place.
- Soon after that discovery they gave me the assignment to be their 'interpreter' between the new culture and the existing culture.
- I approached the situation a more deeply, focusing on the underlying reality, since blaming it on the culture differences would not help anyone.
- The theoretical basis of my approach is my SevenBuildingBlocksModel® with two equally important dimensions: organization (management responsibilities) and human emotions.
- Top management (German expats) agreed to make local management (Belgians) accountable for the transformation of the culture. That was a necessary contition for successfully producing the new model, next to the technical transformation.
- Soon after starting with 6 projects -predefined by German top management- the need for more clarity within the Belgian management became apparent. That was the trigger to clarify Mision, Vision an Values (the first of the Seven Building Blocks) for the Brussels Factory (early 2008)
- This visioning process took more than 6 months, because the entire local management group was systematically involved and they had to co-create the vision and the values in oder to carry them out to their organization afterwards.
- Two years later the six transformation project teams (local managers) realized their objectives (determined by themselves). This is a 100% succes in change. Compare this to the average 33% success rate of change processes . One of these 6 projects is 'open discussion culture' as described in this case.
- Top management especially did two things : give the teams the full trust (and responsibility) and the time to learn how to work on their organization in this new setting. The initial timing was exceeded by far, but the expectations remained unchanged. Eventuallly all 6 projects delivered what they had planned.
- Succes in delivering was far more important than timing. Thes projects had to be a successfull experience for everyone concerned, so that the managers would support this approach later on in their part of the organization.
Key Innovations & Timeline
- Transformation needed. After taking over a former VW factory in Brussels in 2007, German senior management -soon realized that investing 200 million euros in 116 technical project in the factory (+/- 2500 staff) would not make the difference. The organization, itself had to be transformed fundamentally, starting with the way it was lead.
- To accomplish this, 'T-management' was introduced. For the last 40 years the view on the management role had a one-dimensional 'I'-shape: ùanagement felt accountable for producing cars at minimal cost and at the requested quality level. By giving this 'I' two arms, you get a T: so you keep the technical backbone and you add an arm for 'organization' and one arm for 'people'
- These two 'arms' are the two dimensions of the Seven Building Blocks Model® , that was introduced.
- 'Organization' stands for the 7 management responsibilities: visioning, communicating, develop competences, give maximal decision freedom, ensuring tools, action planning and rewarding.
- 'People' stands for the 7 emotional balances of people in organizations: clarity-confusion, involvement-resistance, self confidence-fear, initiative-powerless, decisiveness-frustration, focus-chaos and enthusiasm-indifference.
- The main insight is that you can address so called 'emotional issues' by acting on the management responsibility that is linked to it: turn confusion into clarity by having a clear vision or turn people who feel powerless into initiative taking partners by giving them freedom to decide and so on.
- The Brussels management team was held accountable for transforming their organization, not consultants or some specialists of HQ. Among a long list of issues they chose six problems to be addressed, one of them was 'open discussion culture'
- The focus of this project was on empowering the Team Leaders in the factory. Not only was their job title changed into 'Team Speaker' - emphasizing the weight of communication - their job content was shifted dramatically towards more autonomy for organizing the work and improving quality. Every Team Speaker got a 4 week training course and coaching on the job. (This was done by an external training company)
- One of the results is a spectacular fall of the number of conflicts escalated to the Works Council: it dropped from 49 (forty nine) to 4 (four) per year in 2010 This is due to the increased competence and self-confidence of the Team Speakers to cope with questions and tensions in their team.
- In fact this project covered all 7 Building Blocks and all emotional balances of the Team Speakers tilted to the positive side.
- Conclusion1: this project covered all 7 Building Blocks and all emotional balances of the Team Speakers tilted to the positive side.
- Conclusion 2: Managers themselves transformed the 'I-shaped' Team Leader role into a 'T-shaped' Team Speaker role, thus implementing a sustainable organization improvement.
Challenges & Solutions
- Gain trust as an external Organization Developer from the Belgian management, especiall from the project leaders. For some even considering help from an outsider was seen as a failure.
- As a consultant, you are as good as your client alows you to be. Top management did not doubt at the approach at any moment and took their role as sponsor seriously. At the same time they understood the local managers who sometimes were under tremendous operational pressure to produce the car against expectations.
- During the process I organized regular progress meetings with all 6 project leaders together sometimes escalating their concerns to top management. If needed I proporsed 1 on 1 meetings to discuss issues within one group, avoiding potential uncomfortable moments in the presence of colleagues. Both experiences resulted in trust.
- A different speed in the project teams due to an uneven spread of competences.
- Some 1 to 1 sessions were an opportunity to train a manager in applying a specific method , eg. cause and effect analysis for prioritising alternative solutions. Sometimes I got the opportunity to facilitate working sessions for an entire project group where knowledge could be transfered. These sessions were never perceived as hidden training sessions but they were seen as helping them out, which was experienced as a respectful method.
Benefits & Metrics
Benefit of the entire project 'Transformation': management's perception of the fitness their own organization grew from critical to moderately positive over two and a half years
Metric: every 6 months managers evaluated their organizational fitness on a 5 point scale,rating the presence of the seven building blocks. They answer the following question: to what extend do you agree with the fomowing statements?
- Vision: A motivating vision and challenging strategic objectives are understood and accepted throughout the organization.
- Communication: consistent sharing of information and know how in the entire organization
- Competences: all necessary competencies and skills are present to get to the objectives
- Freedom to Decide / Empowerment: The organisation is structured in a way that decisions are taken on the lowest level possible.
- Tools: all neccesary tools and equipement are available to realize the objectives
- Action plan: The focus is clear and the priorities are aligned throughout the organization. Actions are monitored consistently.
- Reward: Incentives are in place that reward people to do the right things
Per building block they have the opportunity to mention good examples or action points :
- To me this is a good example of what happened to the building bock X:
- I think this is an example of what's still to be done do the buillding block X:
The answers were fed back to the top management and the entire management group and some of the 'to be done' items were turned into actions.
The average perception grew from 2.59 (vaguely present) to 3.24 (more or less present) on a five point scale.
The mid term objective is to get to an average score of 4 on 5.
Benefit of the project open discusison culture: a dramatic decrease in officielly reported conflicts to the Works Council
Metric: in 2010 only 4 conflicts were escalated as opposed to 49 in 2009
- Keep the theory practical. Working on improving your organization requires a reference model (in this case the Seven Building Blocks Model®) so that technically oriented managers can think and talk about an abstract thing as 'the organization'.
- Top management support. To have all managers to accept 'people' and 'organization' as integral parts of their role, top management had to be persistent and patient at the same time.
- Organization development is a profession. The management group learned that improving their own organization was feasible, although not easy. Organization development needs a structured apporach with a portfolio of project that are monitored , just like the technical investments are.
- Give people freedom to decide. The implemented changes will not be rejected as 'not invented here' because they all carry the symbolic signatures of the entire local managment group. This takes considerable support from top management, but avoids the process to come to a standstill when the expats of the top management change every 4 to 5 years.
- Let people experienc a success story. The success experience of all the project teams has a much more profound and sustainable learning effect than all management courses in the world could ever have.
Thanks to :Alfons Dintner, Gerhard Schneider, Stefanie Ulrich, Jochen Haberland, Axel Schifferer, Jan Maris