Case Study – Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plant

Transforming Resistors into Unified Business Leaders

The Challenge

For decades, a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant had been running under a smart, traditional leader that always promoted their environment as unique from other plants in the company. The employees took pride in handling things individually without including or coordinating with others. However, external pressures caused new challenges in productivity, safety, quality, and cost. 

  • 22 production batches in the past year were late
  • 13% turnover – high for the industry
  • They shut down twice in one year for safety issues
  • Costs were out of control

In the first 3-6 months…

  • Batch Production went from 22 behind (previous year) to 17 ahead (in first six months)
  • Quality Metrics drastically improved and were “green” for the entire year, and they were the only plant in the entire system to achieve this
  • Near miss identification increased dramatically in the first 3 months leading to a 50% reduction in recorded incidents over 12 months
  • Turnover decreased from 13% to 3%
  • Middle managers ready for Senior Leadership positions went from 0 to 7
  • The owners changed their attitude about the plant, from previously considering it for closure to now seeing it as the hub for production and testing in North America

They immediately demonstrated…

  • The Senior Leadership Team (SLT) was able to speak with one voice and rally the plant
  • Priorities were clear and tasks that weren’t priorities were removed from discussion
  • Senior leaders gave clear direction without micro managing the newly formed middle management team and leaned on them to provide the how-to and the drive
  • Middle Managers as an Operational Leadership Team (OLT) took over full responsibility for implementing strategic priorities from beginning to end
  • The SLT and OLT teams coordinated and met together to ensure escalation only happened at the right time and always happened when it needed to involve the SLT
  • Rather than any one leader or team trying to solve issues by themselves, they involved 3-4 other leaders to solve problems and brought the solutions to the SLT and OLT teams for alignment and support
  • Employees were engaging at a level never before experienced in safety, quality, productivity improvements, and execution


The plant changed ownership twice in just two years, lost experienced leaders, and was now struggling. The new owners experienced that the leaders’ sense of pride, which had served this group well in the past, was the reason for them being stuck, siloed, immature, and resistant to positive change.

Key to Success

Rather than do training, team building, or surveys, it was decided the most direct, high-leverage approach was to hold a half-day working session specifically designed to develop an entirely new Mindset of Leadership – expanding and shifting their thinking about their roles moving forward.

B STATE Approach

1)  Introduced a New Mindset to leaders at every level

Every leader at the plant attended a half-day “working session” called the Fundamentals of Accountable Leadership. In this session, leaders came to grips with the truth of their situation and how they needed to move from the pride of being individual and autonomous to the power of shared ownership and accountability.

2)  Installed our Breakthrough Leadership Team System with the Senior Leadership Team

Utilizing the system, the Senior Team created a unified future Picture of Success and established a new culture by creating new Team Habits of Collective Execution and taking Shared Ownership for top priorities. More importantly, they created an environment of both Safety and Accountability for holding each other to the new habits, something they had never done in the past.

3)  Engaged Middle Managers as an Operational Leadership Team

The critical piece was to shift the middle manager mindset from rebellious and blaming to one that could take clear direction and priorities and translate them into operational execution as a unified team with a business ownership attitude. We again used the Breakthrough Leadership Team System, n two days, we set up the new mindset, collective habits, plans for executing the priorities and plans to recover from unforeseen breakdowns as a unified team.

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