Case Study – Transportation

Boosting Succession Bench Strength & Changing Culture

The Challenge

A very successful shipping company was in the process of upgrading its aging equipment with the latest technologies. Their inspirational CEO foresaw three challenges that needed to be addressed:

  • Moving from a silo-oriented to cross-functional culture to radically increase execution excellence
  • Early safety indicators showed safety problems were increasing rather than decreasing
  • His team was not positioned to lead the change as a team or individually

In the first 3 months…

  • They successfully managed the transition of the Safety Manager, and safety recordables have continued to drop
  • Employee engagement improved dramatically
  • Leaders at the Senior and Middle Manager levels were perceived as speaking with one voice, which positively impacted execution, collaboration, and engagement across the company
  • Implementation of new on-board ship technology was successfully implemented
  • New leaders emerged, including two clear replacements for the CEO and several from the middle manager group for Senior positions

After only 6 months…

  • An unexpected departure of a top leader of a sister organization forced the CEO to change positions
  • Because of this effort, there was a team of 3 top leaders already running the business and two were ready to be considered to move into his vacant position

In spite of the fact that the leaders involved started out thinking there was no way this would work, within the first two months…

  • Decisions began to be made much faster – primarily because they were no longer pushing it up to the CEO each time
  • The “us versus them” silo mentality disappeared because the Middle Management Team began making decisions together, and they were already experiencing rapid results
  • Even the most negative middle managers got on board because: they didn’t have to come to every meeting to contribute, their ideas were now utilized, and decisions were being made with people closer to the issues
  • The middle manager culture of resistance, judgment, and rebelling against authority changed to a positive unified, team that spoke with one voice
  • Communication improved dramatically between functions, not just between the leaders on the teams

Situation

The challenge for the CEO was how to rapidly address all three issues and position the company for success well into the future:

  • Moving from a silo-oriented to cross-functional culture to radically increase execution excellence
  • Reverse the trend that safety problems were increasing, rather than decreasing
  • Prepare his team to lead needed change, both individually and collectively as a team 

Key to Success

Our suggestion was to take a radical approach and we address all three issues together in the same effort. The CEO loved it. 
 

B STATE Approach

1)  Created a new leadership structure that was not dependent on the CEO 

We started by implementing a B STATE Team Accountability System with the Senior Leadership Team (without the CEO), forcing them to create direction, set priorities, and make decisions as a top team with the CEO only as an advisor. This created a completely new mindset on the team of shared ownership and accountability for business results.

2) Expanded the roles and competencies of leaders at all levels using a B STATE Accountability Training Session

Specific middle managers were selected to form a Middle Management Team to ensure cross-functional implementation and problem solving. They picked two critical priority areas to focus on: Safety and Working as One Team.

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